You may be asking yourself why I’m reading an Animorphs book. “Weren’t they from the 90s? There aren’t other books to be reading instead?” Ok, I don’t really think any of my readers are THAT judgmental. I hope not. But I do see how it’s a little weird to be “reviewing” a book from an older series that might not have as much of a legacy behind it as, for example, the Oz books or some other classic children’s series.
Did you see the quotations around the word reviewing, up there? That’s because this isn’t one of my typical reviews. It’s a hybrid review and blog post.
Many years ago, as a kid, I was a reader. At least for the most part. The only books I remember really reading was this series: The Animorphs. I got them as soon as I could after they were released and devoured them all. I actually still have the books, today, almost 20 years later. The first, The Invasion, came out in 1996 and I think that’s around the time I discovered the books. I don’t know how I discovered them though. It’d be nice to know. The then on I was hooked.
What hooked me in with this series, though? That’s what I set out to remember when I picked up that first book again a few days ago. After only a few pages, the reasons started coming back to me. For one thing, the narrator is letting the reader in on a secret. It’s also told as if it’s happening right at that moment, in the real world, but Jake (the narrator for this book) won’t tell where he is or even his last name. What kid doesn’t get grabbed by that? I know that was part of it for me. I wanted in on this secret. Could it be real? Maybe my child mind thought so. Another thing I remember loving was the animals (the “ani” part of Animorphs). For a kid, there’s a lot of information about a variety of animals throughout this series. In the first book alone I learned about dogs, cats, lizards, gorillas, and more. Some facts might be common knowledge for adults, but as a kid, this was a way to learn and have fun at the same time. Most of what I learned I remember today. And it’s not just learning about the animals, but it’s BEING the animals. These characters morph into the animals, have to deal with controlling the animal instincts, and deadly enemies.
Another great thing, I don’t’ feel that these were marketed toward just boy readers. It’s more common than not to have a boy book series and girl book series (kind of like Hardy Boys and Babysitter’s Club). I might be wrong, since I was a male reader then and now, however just looking at the covers of the first few books, there’s a rainbow of colors used. Traditionally there are “boy colors” and “girl colors”. But the first ten books use blues, reds, purples, pinks, yellows. You name it. Also, each book has a different character from the group as the narrator. Book 1 is Jake, the semi-leader of the kids. Book 2…Rachel. This might seem small, but feel there’s a good balance of male and female narrator use. Each has a unique voice, but also they’re all relatable for any reader. This could easily have been told from a 3rd person POV or just one character throughout. I think changing it up, changing gender and character background, that was a strength it had. I also think it helped mold my reading life, even if I didn’t notice at the time.
As you can see, this is getting lengthy. It’s also not really focused on the first book The Invasion, but turned into a “look at this great series” sort of post. I’m ok with that. Probably better if I don’t focus on the single book because I think it’s better to experience them, rather than be specific. What I will say is even now, all these years later, they’ve held up. I was afraid that I wouldn’t enjoy them as much as an adult, but I was wrong. I want to read them ALL. I want to experience it all again. I will in time, but there are still so many other books to read out there.
One last note: Back when Nickelodeon was amazing and all I watched, they made Animorphs into a TV series. It was amazing. It’s on Netflix right now, and I’m already 15 episodes into it. Sadly, it’s only 2 seasons long, but at least it’s something.
And one more fun fact: they made toys from the show/books. I think I may have my Tobias/Hawk one somewhere still. I hope I do. That thing was cool. They’re basically Transformers, going from human figure to animal figure.
You can grab a copy of The Invasion from:
About the Author:
I’ve written many books for children and young adults, including The Buffalo Storm (a picture book), Roscoe Riley Rules (a chapter book series), and Animorphs (which I wrote with my husband, Michael Grant.) My novel Home of the Brave was awarded the 2008 Golden Kite Award for Best Fiction, the Bank Street 2008 Josette Frank Award for children’s fiction, and was a Judy Lopez Memorial Award honor book.
In 2013, The One and Only Ivan was awarded the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Which was pretty cool.
I live in California with my husband, two children, and assorted pets.
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