I Read Animorphs For the First Time as an Adult
Updated: Aug 18
Hello, Book Nerds! Welcome back to Reading Has Ruined My Life or welcome if you are new. As always, my name is Hannah and I am your captain on this journey into my bookcases.
August is turning into the month where I basically write whatever I want. The theme is selfishness.
Which is why I am reviewing Animorphs today. If you grew up in the 90’s and early 2000’s then these books need no introduction. This series holds a place in every child’s mind and heart. They have made us all cock our heads to the side and go: “what the fuck is this?”
Personally, I’ve only ever looked at the book covers. Part of me was too scared to ever read one. That’s all changed now. I, at 25-years-old, have finally read Animorphs. Specifically entry #26: The Attack.
Firstly, I wish to thank author K.A. Applegate for creating this icon of the 90’s. I’m sorry that I lowkey made fun of this series as a child. I judged the books by their covers, and I was wrong to do that. This series kinda slaps.
Secondly, it should be noted that I’ve never read this series. I’ve said that so many times already that if you’re playing a drinking game with the sentence, “I’ve never read Animorphs,” I am sorry, you have now died from alcohol poisoning. Please stop your drinking game now if you’re somehow still alive. Anyway, I knew nothing about this series past a group of middle schoolers were able to change into wild animals. That’s all I knew. I knew nothing of the backstory. No world building. No facts. No important plot points. I went in blind! Some things did not make sense to me because I started on book 26, but overall it was not too bad.
Honestly, book 26 was a good book to start on. Let me give ya a synopsis and we can get on with this review. Spoiler alert for Animorphs: The Attack.
The Attack is from the point of view of Jake. He is one of the Animoprhs. I do not know exactly how he or his friends got their powers, but it doesn’t matter! What matters is the Animorphs are the Chosen Ones. These children are the ones who will stop the invasion of Yeerks. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “who are the Yeerks?” They’re aliens, baby! Animorphs is a middle-grade science fiction series; which I did not know until now.
Anyway, the Yeerks are an invasive species trying to destroy Earth. This book isn’t about them though. You see, Jake and friends have been given a mission by someone, or something, known as the Ellimist. The Ellimist has helped this group in the past, even saving their lives at one point, but now they have a mission for the kids: defeat the Howlers in mortal combat.
I’m throwing a lot at you, but don’t worry, we’re almost done. The Howlers are another alien species. They are a predatory species, and they have never been defeated before. So a group of middle schoolers get to fight them to the death! What fun! Oh yeah, and if the Animorphs lose, they get erased from the universe and then the Yeerks will take over and destroy the Earth.
This is the most 90’s shit ever. And I unironically love it. It’s just *chef’s kiss.*
I can’t remember the last book I read where the stakes were this high. The 90’s really did things differently. I was thrown into the deep end with this one. The characters have very established relationships and backstories. There is lore being thrown around that I sometimes didn’t understand, but that’s okay because I picked up the book revolving around a side quest. And that’s what made book 26 the best possible starting place for me. I didn’t have to worry about figuring out what people were talking about all the time regarding lore and stuff like that, but the book was still action packed.
The series’ overarching plot is something that is massively unknown to me, but the relationships between the characters was not; and the characters were honestly a major highlight for me. I was able to focus on them in this extremely difficult, horrifying, extreme situation, and watched as they handled the task at hand. Despite never reading any other book in this series, the characters were easily identifiable. I knew who was who with minimal introduction to this group. Plus, with the stakes so high, I had reason to care about if these fictional characters lived or died.
Let’s talk about those life or death stakes now. Animorphs is lowkey dark. A group of middle schoolers is told if they don’t kill seven members of a predatory alien species, a species who have never been defeated before, then they’re all going to die? Excuse me!? I should also mention that this battle is happening kinda against their will. They’re just told by the Ellimist that they’re going to fight or die. Again, excuse me!? Middle school is rough enough as it is without the threat of death and Battle Royales.
Speaking of dark, I bet you wouldn’t guess that this book has body horror in it. But it does! Some really good body horror I may add. When I say “good,” I mean scenes that would have scared me as a child and have made my skin crawl as an adult. I did not enjoy reading about these children’s bodies changing in excruciating detail. Sinew stretching and morphing in ways it shouldn’t? Hard pass. 10-out-of-10 detail work, K.A. Applegate.
The whole book is like that. There is an extreme attention to detail that I was not expecting whatsoever. It shouldn’t be surprising given that this is a science fiction book and details are integral to the genre, but I am sadly a jaded, pessimistic adult who expects the worst at all times. Very happy to report that The Attack creates an alien world I truly have never seen before. Think bright, primary colors meets mall meets hotel conference rooms meets giant skyscrapers; oh, and add in the classic futuristic high-tech elements that all science fiction has. Once again 10-out-of-10 detail work, K.A. Applegate.
I came into this post thinking the whole thing would be a joke. I leave today unironically enjoying the Animorphs series. I expected to only write a page and a half of me roasting this 90’s fever dream, but Animorphs slapped me in the face instead. Details, character development, body horror, life and death stakes; this book has it all.
I’d like to now start the petition to bring Animorphs back to bookstores everywhere. I’d like a new generation of children to look at the weird covers and go: “what the fuck is this?”
With that, I shall bid you all adieu. Thank you for joining me today, and if you see a copy of Animoprhs out in the wild, pick it up, it’ll be an enjoyable experience. I shall see you next week with another great review.
Until then, stay safe, wash your hands, and read some good books for me.