|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "What was it you said? Something like: "If you go around using your powers however you want, we can't have you around. You're a danger to us." You think I don't know you were threatening me, Jake? I'm not spending the rest of my life taking orders from you." [...]
"If the Yeerks don't get you, we will."
"Yeah, I know. But already there used to be six of you and now there are just five. Pretty soon, Jake, it'll be four."
- ―David and Jake
The Threat, published in August 1998 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the twenty-first book in the Animorphs series and the second book in The David Trilogy. It is the eighth book narrated by Jake and the fifth book with Jake as the sole narrator.
There is a new Animorph. And he's arrived just in time, because the Yeerks are preparing their biggest takeover ever. The ultimate target: the world's most powerful leaders gathered together in one place. What better way to get into the minds of humans? Literally.
At first, David joins the fight with a vengeance. But there is definitely something wrong. Because he's starting to break the rules. Taking risks that could get them all captured. Or killed. The Animorphs don't know what to do. Because there was a time when the Yeerks were their greatest enemy. That's about to change...
After falling from the Blade ship, Jake, David, Marco, Cassie and Ax are snagged from mid-air by Rachel and Tobias. They land on the beach, needing a plan to infiltrate the Marriott resort. The team morphs into seagulls, and spy out the area, crawling with security agents armed to the teeth and accompanied by dogs. While scouting, they are zapped by a security man wearing sunglasses with weak Dracon beam emitters built into them. Jake tells them to leave. Upon his return home, his parents tell Jake and his brother Tom that their obnoxious cousin, Saddler, was gravely injured in a car accident, and that they were leaving town to spend time with his parents. Jake is presented with the opportunity to advance his plans.
Unfortunately, that night, David disappears from Cassie's barn. Jake morphs into his dog, Homer, and tracks David's scent to an inn. David had morphed into a golden eagle, smashed the window with a rock and entered without paying. Jake threatens David, and adds that he would be dealt with if he did not abide by their rules and/or abused the morphing power. David doesn't hide his contempt, but leaves with Jake anyway.
Cassie concocts a plan to infiltrate the resort undetected: Jake would morph into a dragonfly, while the other Animorphs, with the exception of Tobias, would morph fleas and latch onto Jake's body, with Tobias guiding them from the sky outside. Inside the hotel, Jake tries to find the banquet hall where the speeches and infestations will take place. With their time running out, Jake flies into an air vent to find an empty room, although he gets caught in a spider web. With less than two minutes left in morph, Jake partially demorphs to free himself from the web, with Cassie enduring a fatal injury when Jake's demorphing creates a semi-human artery that increases the pressure in the blood she had been engorging on, all while David begins to demorph while still attached to Jake. Jake flies into the banquet hall, ordering the others to jump off his back and demorph as well. Marco is unable to demorph, instead growing as a giant flea. They begin to despair, but Cassie guides Marco and enables him to regain his human form.
Jake inspects the banquet room, and notices the number of holograms in place. They discover Visser Three's plan to infest the world leaders using the hologram, and decide to flee to formulate a strategy, although not before attracting the attention of a few Controllers. There is a brief moment where David disobeys Jake's order and morphs into a lion, asking Jake whether a lion or a tiger would win in a fight, adding that he thinks a lion would; Jake is left disturbed by his comment. Later on, the Animorphs discuss the Visser's plan at the barn. There are two schools of thought about why he would do this; Ax theorizes that it was because there would be no way for the man to have access to a Kandrona if he is infested and something goes wrong with the mission, while Cassie thinks that it is simply Visser Three's ego wanting him to take the key role in a plan that could result in the Yeerks winning the war for Earth at last.
They return to the resort and knock out the three male guards, with Jake, Ax and David acquiring and morphing them. However, when the leaders do not enter the hologram, they realize they have fallen into Visser Three's trap. When the Visser announces that he will kill them unless they demorph, David pleads with the Visser not to kill him and begins demorphing. Additionally, he decides to give up the Animorphs to save his life, prompting Cassie to attack him to cut his revelation short. David runs to the Visser's side, but when Jake deduces that the Hork-Bajir present are holograms and not real, David switches back to the Animorphs' side. The Controllers nearly kill Cassie, although Ax places a tail blade to the Visser's throat to call a truce. Visser Three realizes that the defector was David and tells David to meet the Yeerks at his old house, promising to free his parents in exchange for joining their side. The Yeerks and the Animorphs then split ways before the regular human security teams can approach.
During the flight home, Jake privately orders all the other Animorphs to pretend to accept David's story about his defection being a ruse, although not before Rachel calls him a coward. As they all go home for the night, David returning to Cassie's barn, Jake privately asks Tobias and Ax to watch the barn in case David takes the Visser's offer. Since his parents are out of town and Tom is out on Yeerk business, Jake is able to leave home and watch the barn with Ax and Tobias. Around two in the morning, David leaves the barn and returns to his old home in eagle morph. As Jake and Ax are in their regular forms, Jake asks Tobias to follow David while they morph to raptor morph. Jake and Ax reach David's house, noticing a Yeerk truck on the curb. Jake asks Ax to demorph in the backyard a few houses away while he flies in to speak to David.
To Jake's shock, he discovers a mangled red-tailed hawk in the room, with David explaining that he killed Tobias because he was following him. David explains that he does not like being called a coward for wanting to stay alive and that he has no desire to fight in a war and follow Jake's orders. David restates Jake's threat that the Animorphs would not allow infractions in their rules, and decides to kill the remaining five Animorphs. Wanting to avenge Tobias, Jake engages David, only to be ambushed by Hork-Bajir. Ax rescues Jake and escapes, while David flies away. Jake pursues David, ordering Ax to peel off and fetch Rachel, explaining that if David did kill Tobias, then they might have to kill David, and that it required Rachel. David then leads Jake to the roof of the mall, where they both morph the lion and tiger respectively, David asking once more whether a tiger could beat a lion. The two have a brief skirmish, which ends with David and Jake falling through the skylight and into the mall below, although not before David bites Jake's carotid artery, causing Jake to lose consciousness.
- Dan (Mentioned Only)
- Naomi (Mentioned Only)
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul (Mentioned Only)
- Saddler (Mentioned Only)
- George (Mentioned Only)
- Ellen (Mentioned Only)
- Forrest (Mentioned Only)
- Brooke (Mentioned Only)
- Tobias steals clothing for David from a beach shop, citing that it was not a crime since he is a bird. Later that night, David, tired of living at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic and eating chips that Cassie gives him, decides to use his eagle morph to use a rock to dive-bomb the glass at a Holiday Inn. When confronted by Jake, David uses Tobias' logic, that it was not a crime since he committed the crime as a bird. Jake threatens David that if he breaks the rules he sets or abused the power to morph, he would be labelled a danger and a high risk to the Animorphs and thus subsequently dealt with, and forces David to return to the barn.
- The Animorphs break their "no acquiring humans" rule for the first time, with Cassie's permission, with Jake, Ax and David acquiring adult male Controllers.
- The seven crash the banquet, only to discover that it is a trap set by Visser Three, surrounded by Dracon beam-wielding Hork-Bajir. Visser Three requests that they demorph and surrender or be killed, and David begins to demorph, begging the Visser not to kill him and nearly exposing the Animorphs. David defects to join the Visser's side; however, when Jake correctly deduces that the Hork-Bajir are holograms, David switches sides once more.
- After a standoff, Visser Three realizes that David has joined the 'Andalite bandits' and offers to free his parents if David joins them, and asks David to meet up with them at his old home.
- David attempts to pass off his defection as a ruse to lower Visser Three's guard, while the others believe David did intend to betray them. Jake asks Tobias and Ax to watch the barn with him all night to see if David would take up the Visser's offer, and spot David leaving in golden eagle morph. As Jake and Ax are not in morph, Jake asks Tobias to follow David while they morph to birds of prey.
- Jake and Ax head to David's house, spotting a truck-full of Hork-Bajir on the curb. Jake commands Ax to demorph in the backyard in case a fight ensues, and flies into the demolished house to speak with David, although not before spotting the bloodied corpse of a red-tailed hawk.
- David explains that he killed Tobias for following him, and that he intends to murder all of the Animorphs since Jake threatened him that he would be dealt with if he broke the rules or used morphing for personal reasons. He adds that he has no desire to fight in the Andalite-Yeerk War and that he wishes to use his powers to become a millionaire instead and morph other humans, stealing their identities. David attempts to kill Jake, but his assault is cut short by the intervention of the Hork-Bajir, who storm the room. As David flies away, Jake is saved by Ax; Jake informs Ax that David has killed Tobias and asks Ax to get Rachel, since they would have to avenge Tobias by killing David.
- Jake and David land on the roof of the mall and morph into the tiger and lion, both intending to kill the other. During the fight, David and Jake break the glass skylight, causing them to fall into the mall below, although not before David delivers a fatal blow to Jake's jugular, causing Jake to bleed out and lose consciousness.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||Dragonfly, Human (adult male Controller)||Cockroach, Seagull, Brown Bat, Golden Retriever (Homer), Dragonfly, Peregrine Falcon, Human (adult male Controller), Siberian Tiger|
|Rachel||Flea||Bald Eagle, Seagull, Great Horned Owl, Flea, Grizzly Bear|
|Cassie||--||Cockroach, Seagull, Great Horned Owl, Flea, Osprey, Wolf|
|Marco||Flea||Cockroach, Seagull, Flea, King Cobra (Spawn), Osprey|
|Ax||Human (adult male Controller)||Cockroach, Seagull, Flea, Northern Harrier, Human (adult male Controller)|
|David||Seagull, Flea, Human (adult male Controller)||Cockroach, Seagull, Lion, Golden Eagle, Flea, Human (adult male Controller)|
|Visser Three||--||Human (Tony), Unnamed Lizard Creature|
- The cover quote is, "The newest Animorph has a secret. And it's not good...."
- The inside cover quote is, "Jake's really gone to the dogs...."
- This is the sixth book in which the cover art does not depict a morph acquired in the book.
- This book is the second of a three-book arc known as "The David Trilogy."
- This is the third instance in the series where an Animorph acquires a morph but does not use the morph in the same book. Tobias acquires a flea morph in this book, but morphs it for the first time in the The Pretender. Jake acquired a termite in The Secret, although not only did he not use the termite morph in that book, but he never used the morph at all during the series, while David acquired a lion morph in The Discovery, but did not use it for the first time until this book.
- This marks the first time that Jake and David acquire a human morph, and the sixth time that Ax acquires a human. If one counts Ax as an Animorph and his acquiring of Jake, Rachel, Cassie and Marco's DNA in The Message as separate acquisitions, this marks the eighth, ninth and tenth time that an Animorph has acquired a human morph, as Jake, David and Ax acquired three separate humans in this book.
- This also marks the first time where the Animorphs break their "no morphing humans" rule, established in The Warning.
- Marco refers to the extensive security as Men in Black 2, considering the real life events at the Marriott as a sequel to the film Men in Black. This puts the events of this book post July 1997.
- Jake mentions that the Animorphs originally received their power "months ago".
- According to Cassie, Jake used to run across the roofs of houses at night in his tiger morph.
- This is the second time in the series that Jake encounters defenseless Yeerks and is given the choice to between killing them or letting them live. In the first instance, The Capture, he boiled them all alive with no remorse, whereas in this book, he finds it morally unacceptable to murder defenseless Yeerks. This is most likely because the Animorphs' perspective on Yeerks have been changed in the time between, most recently by Aftran.
- Marco is nearly as a dog-sized flea and struggles to demorph, though is able to do so with Cassie's help. This is the second time in the series that Marco has overshot the time limit while demorphing and needed Cassie's help to demorph, after nearly becoming trapped as a half-human, half-wolf in The Encounter.
- This book was the very first to have the "watch Animorphs on TV" logo. The show premiered on Nickelodeon the next month and lasted for 26 episodes in two seasons. The logo disappeared from covers after #24: The Suspicion, but returned on #30: The Reunion with a new look and continued to appear on every single cover for the rest of the series.
- David is proven to be skilled at the morphing process, having taught himself to morph clothing without assistance and managing multiple morphs in a row. In the beginning, the Animorphs struggled with rapid morphing, hence why Cassie was chosen to defeat the Veleek in The Andalite's Gift, as she had the tolerance to pull it off. Yet David, lacking the Animorphs' practice and experience, is able to handle it relatively well, and has also shown, with the exception of the golden eagle, to not lose himself to the morphed animal's instincts.
- David is the fourth Animorph (if one includes Ax) to speak with Visser Three, following Ax, Cassie and Rachel. Although Marco did technically tell Visser Three "negotiate this" in The Escape while socking him in the mouth, it is not generally counted as it was not an actual conversation.
- Jake notes that Ax refrains from screaming while falling from the Blade ship because his race is telepathic and thus did not evolve to scream. However, Ax has screamed and laughed via thought-speak many times, and did scream while falling from the Blade ship The Andalite's Gift.
- David is referred to as the sixth Animorph, despite Jake mentioning on the very same page that Ax is one of the six on the team known as the Animorphs.
- Jake mentions that Ax is safe being in his Andalite form at the beach, since Tobias would notify them if anyone was close enough to see Ax. However, Tobias is not present as he is off acquiring clothes for David.
- David is nude when he demorphs on the beach, since he did not learn to morph clothing yet. Jake asks Cassie and Rachel to look away; however, at the end of The Discovery, David demorphed on the bottom of the Blade ship, meaning that he was nude (and while Cassie was present).
- After David pulls the fire alarm and is almost caught, he rolls underneath the table and begins to morph into his lion morph, despite Jake telling him not to. Jake ends up grabbing David's mane, but then remarks to himself that as it is David's first time in a lion morph, he may not be able to control its instincts. However, Jake had deduced that David had morphed lion earlier on, after leaving Cassie's barn to break into a Holiday Inn, so it would have been David's second time morphing the lion.
- The male Animorphs come up with the plot about Tony being stuck in Washington without a Kandrona should the Yeerks plan fail, although they fail to factor in the possibility of a portable Kandrona.
- Jake realizes it is a trap when the second world leader does not walk to the pillar, stating that Erek had told them that only one leader was a Controller and that Erek's information would not be false. However, in the previous book, Cassie clearly mentions that Erek had only mentioned that at least one of them might be Controller, and that some of the rest could be Controllers as well.
- Visser Three somehow knows the Animorphs are behind the pillar of all places, but it is never established how. If the pillar had cameras or was rendered visible, he would have seen that they were human; if their thought-speak was not private, he would have learned their names and realized they were human.
- Visser Three deduces that David is an Animorph as he believes that the Andalites would never have killed him. However he should have known, both as a Yeerk and with access to Alloran's memories, that Andalites would not readily have broken the Law of Seerow's Kindness to grant a human child they do not know the power to morph. Additionally, factoring in Ax's vote in the previous book as well as the personalities of the Andalites encountered previously, Andalite soldiers would rather have left David to be killed or infested rather than break one of their most sacred laws.
- Jake mentions that David has been in eagle morph since he left the barn, meaning he did not demorph until he was on the roof the mall. However, when Jake flew into the remains of David's room, he remarks that the bed had been moved and so had the television set; David would have been unable to do either as a bird.