HomeBookSeries Review: Animorphs by K. A. Applegate

Series Review: Animorphs by K. A. Applegate

If someone were to have told me that starting a 25 year old children’s book series would become all consuming, addictive and my new obsession I don’t think I would have believed them.

I always loved the Animorphs, I loved the TV show as a kid, but never read the books. I knew the story, I got it, I knew there were books – did not realise there were 50+ but that was ok. I spent years trying to track them down before finally finding them all on ebook. I got them and then never started them before one day basically saying ‘I have to start eventually’ and opened book one. That was the beginning of the end. I INHALED THEM. I sped through them, I was reading one to two a day (at average 200 pages this isn’t hard), but I was invested like nothing before.

It may sound like a lot to wax lyrical about a 25 year old children’s series but honestly, the themes and issues that are addressed make this more important than it looks on the surface. The writing is engaging, it draws you in, the character are complicated, flawed, scared children and yet watching them do the unimaginable has been mind blowing. The themes about what humanity is, what people are capable of, the moral justifications for doing what these characters do, the ongoing struggle between right and wrong, it’s incredible. Of course there are the fun moments where they battle tiny aliens and have less serious adventures, but it is always building. Everything has a purpose and over 54 books and additional side series the world that’s been created is one I won’t soon forget. I’m glad in a way I got to experience this for the first time as an adult, though I knew of the world from the TV show (which is good but changes things and is nowhere near as impactful), because it’s made me appreciate the absolute masterpiece that a very simply written story can manage to affect me so much.

After immersing myself in this brilliant series for seven straight weeks, a book always on the go, picking it up in a quiet moment to read a few more pages meant it was never not in my life. To come to the end was scary because I did not want it to end. I did not want to head into those uncertain waters and see the outcome of this long war of pain, suffering, courage, bravery and determination.

The absolute stress and intensity of those final half dozen books. My heart, my nerves, none of them were operating at normal capacity. Everything changes quickly as the final comes to a head. The sudden shift from a gradual build up to all out urgency was confronting. The familiarity of the six main characters suddenly changes and it’s an unsettling feeling of change as everything you’ve known changes and you don’t know what is going to happen. Not that you ever know what is going to happen but there is some faith the six of them remain and go on. Now, anything is up for grabs.

This story is about the horrors of war, it’s about humanity, about doing the right thing, about family, love, sacrifice. It’s Phenomenal. I cannot believe how Applegate (and the other ghostwriters) have mixed these major themes into a story about children who make jokes, mess up, turn into dolphins and dogs, who are going to school. The writing is deceptively simple and yet conveys so much that can knock you over with a line or two. From the very beginning you go on this adventure with these kids and by the end of you you’ve changed as much as them, you’re thinking about the ethical nature of war and self-defence, and you’ve gotten to know these characters so deeply you pity them and treasure them and truly when those final books hit and pretenses are dropped and you learnt the full truth, my god it’s amazing.

On top of the Big Stuff, Applegate is also incredible and getting inside the minds of animals. Because the premise is these kids can turn into animals the exploration of instinct and how animal behave and with what purpose was fascinating. The differences between ant and dogs, or tigers and dolphins was amazing to read about. While a lot of this would be speculation obviously, there was a lot of knowledge and logic as well as; the nature of ants is well known and the mind of a housecat may be a mystery but there is also observed behaviours that can be utilised in understanding instinct. The learning journey about morphing and each acquired animal was certainly one of the best parts.

These are sometimes not for the faint hearted though. Applegate doesn’t full on describe gruesome scenes, but it can be really brutal. Descriptions of morphing can be quite gross and of course battles with alien enemies is going to result in bloodshed and a few near death experiences. I liked how restrained she was, revealing enough that doesn’t sugar-coat how horrific these circumstances can be, but also writing it in  way that felt real without going too far, these are still for kids after all.

The urge to spoil this so I can gush about every amazing thing these books contain is high but truly the chance to experience them for the first time is something I never want to take away from someone. Applegate has given permission to read these for free with the ebooks given their scarcity, or eBay or Gumtree may have a few to snatch up but to get the full experience every book I think needs to be read and the ebooks may be your best bet. I also discovered recently that the audiobooks are on Scribd but things come and go from Scribd frequently and it is a paid subscription service so it may not be an ideal option.

You can read the entire Animorphs series via the following





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