It all started in a Scholastic book fair, like most things did in the 90’s. That book fair was pretty much the greatest thing in the history of the universe. Do they still do them?
They do. Apparently they are a nightmare for the people at the school running it but it’s Christmas come early for students.
And remember those order forms you’d get like once a month? I remember sitting at my desk or at home, marking off everything I wanted, spending money that I didn’t have. Those were the days and I’m 100% okay with going back to them. There really is no going back to that amazing. I guess the closest thing to it would be when you’re two glasses of wine into your evening and searching around Amazon.
But that’s where this story starts. A book caught my eye because of the nature of cover. Sure, you should never judge a book by it’s cover but I did and I regret nothing. It was a teenage boy turning into a hawk and boy did I have some questions. Here’s the cover:
To the left of that same book was another with a girl turning into a cat, to the right was a girl turning into a dolphin.
WHAT WAS HAPPENING?!
And this was my introduction to the Animorphs.
At this point I was very much a Goosebumps kid and absolutely loved devouring them so Animorphs was a logical move for me. Now there was even more to purchase at the book fair! It’s a bummer that I no longer have any of these books. They were left behind on various moves from parent to parent during my childhood. Considering it’s been about 20 years since I last thought about them, it’s safe to assume they’ve all moved on to someone else’s collection.
OMG I’m pretty sure a bunch of my old books have a sticker in them saying “This Book Belongs to the Personal Library of Joshua Gunderson” or something to that affect. Let me know if you have one- that would be funny. Unlikely but still funny.
I’m trying really hard to remember when I stopped reading the books. I have never finished the series and looking at the list of books and descriptions my best guess is that I stopped reading them less than halfway through around book 23 or 24. This makes sense because this was around the time that I moved to live with my dad in California. We lived in a small town so my access to new books was limited. When I lived with my mom before it was easy to walk to the nearby Stop & Shop and pick up the newest book each month. With my dad trips to anywhere that sold books was limited.
At this point I know most of the details of how it all ends because I live a world where the internet exists. But I thankfully live in a world where the internet exists! It would turn out that the entire series and companion books (excluding the “Choose Your Own Adventure” Style ‘Alternamorphs’) is available for free download in PDF form.
So you best believe I loaded those bad boys on my tablet!
As of writing this I’ve re-read the first five books in the series. Considering it’s been almost 25 years since I first picked up the series you can imagine my surprise that my parents ever let me read these books.
Mild Spoilers Ahead
There is nothing in the way of foul language, aggressive sexual content (really any sexual content), drugs, alcohol- nope nothing that would cause a church lady to clutch her pearls. Nah, we get a hell of a lot deeper than that stuff.
Hell, they could have had a Stephen King-style child orgy in the middle of the book and THAT would be the tamest part of the whole thing.
Book 1 sees the death of a character within the first couple chapters! We meet Prince Elfangor, an Andalite Prince who crash lands on earth. You’d think that this would be an important character you’d want to keep around to help our new Earth heroes and- NOPE BITCH JUST GOT CONSUMED BY ANOTHER MEMBER OF HIS RACE THAT TRANSFORMED INTO A BIG MONSTER-ALIEN AND ATE HIM!!!
You also learn that one of the main character’s brother has been infested by an alien that is controlling his every action and if that wasn’t enough- the books ends with one of the main characters getting stuck forever in the body of a hawk.
Not to mention these teenage protagonists are forced to kill fellow human beings as early as this first book. Granted it’s an implied dead but it’s right there in the text:
“Cassie had gotten away clean. It had been the suspicious Controller policeman who had grabbed her. He was the only Controller to know her name, where she lived, and that she had been spying on The Sharing. Cassie said we didn’t have to worry about him anymore.
She didn’t want to talk about what had happened to him.”
– The Invasion
Ya know, just kid things.
Not enough for you? Book 3 that same character stuck as a hawk contemplates bestiality, eats a mouse, and attempts suicide. Book 4? One of the characters, while morphed into the body of a dolphin, gets ripped apart by sharks. Book 5? Why not have our heroes almost be ripped apart by an army of ants and show early signs of PTSD for their trouble. Oh, and one of their mothers who everything thought had died two years prior is actually the leader of the alien invasion.
If my parents only knew.
I mean, in the grand scheme of things, Animorphs hit on a lot of the same themes as the Harry Potter books with the difference being that Potter eased you in. We didn’t see the death of a major character in the wizarding world until the very end of Goblet of Fire. Sure there were some bad things that happened to Harry and company over the course of the first few books but it took a solid three years of readers within that world to be emotionally ripped apart.
Animorphs didn’t have time for that nonsense- this was war.
That all said, there’s a very good chance I’ll be writing more on the topic as I work my way through the series.
Any Animorphs readers out there?! LET’S CHAT!!!