Animorphs 2 Comments


I’ve spoken to a few edcommers (and read their blog comments), so I know there at least some other people out there who not only read Animorphs but devoured them eagerly. There seems to also be a general consensus that Tobias was totally hot, despite (because of?) being permanently morphed into a hawk and then becoming mentally more and more hawk-like.

For those of you not in the know, Animorphs was a YA series about a group of American kids who had to stop an alien invasion. But to help them do so, the friendly aliens gave them the power to morph into any animal (or alien) they touched. The only caveat being that if they stayed in the ‘morph’ for longer than two hours, they would be permanently stuck in that form. Which is trouble if you turn into a hawk and are just so dreamy and cool that you get carried away with all the flying and are suddenly stuck being a hawk forever. Learning about consequences, guys.

But anyway, like so much  good YA, the series is really all about growing up. It’s about self-determination, about figuring out your own identity and then realising it. It is a serious statement about the anxiety of self-perception for Rachel, ‘the good looking one’, to choose a Grizzly Bear as her morph of choice. Or for Marco, ‘the cool but troubled one’, to become  a Gorilla and maybe cede responsibility for not being in control of his life for a little while.

All of this is made particularly clear when Ax, one of the friendly aliens (Andalites), actually befriends the group of kids and hangs out with them on Earth. To do that, he morphs into a human, and has to figure out how to adopt the various customs and particulars of human existence, in predictably hilarious fashion. All the ‘common sense’ and ‘obvious’ things in life are problematised, and readers are surreptitiously encouraged to think about the world they live in critically. So a big thank you to K.A. Applegate and dozens of ghost writers for planting the seeds of intelligent engagement with society  in a generation of young readers.

P.S. If you’re interested in morphing and identity and stuff, why not start getting excited about our next issue, Birthmark, featuring an interview with Tom Cho, author of Look Who’s Morphing.

  • Connor

    I remember reading my favourite book in the series was called “In The Time of Dinosaurs”. Just looked it up on Wikipedia, and there’s this:
    “When Marco sees a news report about a downed nuclear submarine, he and the other Animorphs set out to find it in dolphin morphs. When the warheads in the submarine detonate, however, the group finds themselves transported through time, to the era of dinosaurs (the Late Cretaceous period, to be exact). Rachel and Tobias are eaten by a kronosaurus and believed dead.”

    God, I miss books being this awesome.

  • Sam Cooney

    i love looking back at this. so many semi-holes in the plot (as soon as you involve aliens and morphing and mortality you are entering a labyrinth of narrative decisions) but it works. it plain and simply works.

    ah nostalgia. so warm and sepia and creamy.

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