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The Animorphs Series by K.A. Applegate

Animorphs I never actually considered writing a review for this series. Even, for a long time, I had a specific book from the series picked out on the book lists page. Now that I’m sitting down to do it, though, I have no idea why I never did before.

The Animorphs series by K.A. Applegate is, with all due respect to books like ‘A Wrinkle in Time,’ what I would consider to be the greatest science fiction children’s series ever. It’s about five kids‐ young teens at the start of the series, older teens at the end‐ and, eventually, an alien, who are tasked with doing their best to stop a different alien species that is slowly and quietly taking over the world. This species is kind of shaped like a slug, but they can crawl into a host’s brain and take over… everything, speech and emotion and movement, so you’d never know anything was different. And to fight these rather ridiculous odds, the kids are given alien technology which allows them to morph into any animal they touch.

It’s a great premise. I can’t honestly remember if it captured me at the time, because when I started reading this series, I was still young enough that my mother picked most of my books, because she was the one buying them, and one of the books was probably just handed to me, and summarily devoured, because that’s what I do to books. But thinking back on that plot now, wow‐ it seems kind of simple, but it’s not. What it really is, is wildly creative. I’ve always thought K.A. Applegate had one crazy, intense, wonderful imagination, even when I compared her ideas to things I read much later. And the Animorphs series has all the things that make sci‐fi excellent‐ aliens and action and battles for Earth and the parallels made between humans and the rest of what could be out there in space… I’ve read a lot of science fiction since that first Animorphs book, and I know you really don’t actually need all those things to have sci‐fi that’s top notch. But I think part of me always compares the books I read now to the remembered, earliest thrill of excitement at the imagination enclosed in the Animorphs books I read.

Like I said, I was pretty young when I started reading the Animorphs series. Maybe nine? Maybe eight? I remembered being enamored by it. I don’t think I’d really read anything like it at the time. I think Animorphs opened a lot of doors for me. It was the first science fiction I’d ever read, I think. If there was anything before it, I can’t remember it, and I think I probably still have a deep love of science fiction today because of how much I loved this series. But it went beyond that‐ the Animorphs series was one of the first things that showed me what an emotional wallop a book can pack. Because they are really emotional‐ there’s a lot of personal stuff, character relationships and seriously heavy thoughts about life and death and what it means to be human. I think I was starting to get that books could make you feel like your heart was going to burst from happiness or sadness or anger, but I think it was the Animorphs that really cemented that idea.

I love the characters, of course, too, and this was another eye‐opener, I think. Characters I could not just like, but adore. Characters I felt like I knew. Each one is so unique but at the same time so very real. Honest. There isn’t much fluff in these books and that goes for the characters’ emotions and relationships, too. And I was crazy about them. If I’m honest, I still am crazy about them. They’re like old friends by this point.

So I started reading this series pretty early, but somewhere along the way, before it ended, before I’d read, probably, even half of it, life happened and there was no more Animorphs for a while. I don’t know if my new library didn’t have them or what. But it wasn’t until I was, oh, I’m going to say a late teen, that I decided it was high time I finished the series. So I did.

And you know what? They were still good. They were great. They still held my attention and made me laugh and, yeah, when I was near the end of the series, they made me cry. Here I was, a teenager, crying over some kids’ books.

It’s been a long time now, since I’ve read an Animorphs book. But I’m willing to bet I could slip into one as easily as I ever have, and enjoy it just as much. Maybe some of that pure sentimentalness. (Word tells me sentimentalness is not, actually, a word.) But I think a lot of it’s just how good these actually are.

There are 54 books in the series, plus some side books that fit into the series here and there. To say that the books in the original series are short would be an understatement, so even though 54 seems like a lot, it’s really not. I’d say read them in order. I mean, that makes sense, right? I know I didn’t read them in order when I was a kid, but… It just seems like the best way to do it.   -SEL

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