Picture of the book cover featuring a series of stills from a transformation sequence of a boy turning into a lizard, rendered in gloriously awful 90s CGI.

My name is Jake. That’s my first name, obviously. I can’t tell you my last name. It would be too dangerous. The Controllers are everywhere. Everywhere. And if they knew my full name, they could find me and my friends, and then . . . well, let’s just say I don’t want them to find me. What they do to people who resist them is too horrible to think about.

The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.

Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while, to get the pinks right. The scudding clouds did look a bit fishy, rippled into scales by a high-altitude wind. As the light faded, deep blue gaps of night peered through like an upside-down ocean, bottomless and cold.

Any other summer, a sunset like this would have been beautiful. But nothing had been beautiful since Peris turned pretty. Losing your best friend sucks, even if it’s only for three months and two days.

Tally Youngblood was waiting for darkness.

She has blond hair and blue eyes and that kind of very clean, very wholesome look.

Cassie is sort of the opposite. For one thing, she’s usually wearing jeans and a plaid shirt, or something else real casual. She’s black and wears her hair very short most of the time. She had it longer for a while, but then she went back to short, which I like. Cassie is quieter than Rachel, more peaceful, like she always understands everything on some different, more mystical level.

So, there we were. The five of us - Marco, Tobias, Rachel, Cassie, and me. Five normal mall rats heading home.

Rachel may look like Little Miss Teen Model or whatever, but she thinks she’s Storm from the X-Men.
The Abandoned Construction Site is an important location in the Animorphs’ home town.

Suddenly Tobias stopped. He was pointing. Pointing almost straight up. “Look,” he said.

“What?” I didn’t want to be distracted because I was pretty sure I’d heard the sound of a chain-saw killer creeping up behind us.

“Just look,” Tobias said. His voice was strange. Amazed-sounding, but serious at the same time.

So I looked up. And there it was. A brilliant, blue-white light that scooted across the sky, going fast at first, too fast for it to be an airplane, then slower and slower. “What is it?”

First of all, it wasn’t all that big. It was about as long as a school bus. The front end was a pod, shaped almost like an egg. Extending from the back of the pod was a long, narrow shaft. There were two crooked, stubby winglike things, and on the end of each wing was a long tube that glowed bright blue on the back end.

The little spaceship looked almost cute.
She had the same strange, not-quite-real tone in her voice that I had. Like we couldn’t believe what we were seeing. Like maybe we didn’t want to believe.
Tobias was actually grinning, but that’s Tobias for you. He’s never scared of weird stuff. It’s the normal stuff he can’t stand.

My first reaction was that someone had cloned a person and a deer together.

<Yes. I am dying,> he said.

<No. I will die. The wound is fatal.>

<Go into my ship. You will see a small blue box, very plain. Bring it to me. Quickly! I have very little time, and the Yeerks will find me soon.>

it seemed kind of heavy for being so small.

I quickly reached for the box and started to head back outside. But then something caught my eye. It was a small, three-dimensional picture - four Andalites, standing all together, looking like a strange gathering of deer with solemn faces. Two of them looked very small kids. I realized that this was a picture of the Andalite’s family.

“We’re off the map of weirdness by this point,” Rachel said.

The Andalite said the word in our minds, and we could feel his hatred.

I looked at each of the people around me - my usually funny, occasionally annoying best friend, Marco; Rachel, my smart, pretty, confident cousin; and Cassie, who everyone knew liked animals more than she liked most people.

Only remember this - never remain in animal form for more than two of your Earth hours. Never! That is the greatest danger of the morphing! If you stay longer than two hours you will be trapped, unable to return to human form

<The Hork-Bajir are a good people, despite their fearsome looks,>

<The Taxxons are evil.>

Prince Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul

<Because there are so many, and they are so weak,> Visser Three sneered. <Billions of bodies! And they have no idea what’s happening. With this many hosts we can spread throughout the universe, unstoppable! Billions of us. We’ll have to build a thousand new Yeerk pools just to raise Yeerks for half this number of bodies. Face it, Andalite, you have fought well and bravely. But you have lost.>

“I did it,” Tobias said.

I tried to get my hair to go in one direction by raking my fingers through it. “What are you talking about?”

I was yawning when he answered.

“I became Dude.”

The Andalite gave us these powers for a reason.
I’m not the leader. You are.
“Well,” I said grimly. “I guess I’d better go find Homer.”
I ran to the mirror over my dresser. My ears had moved. They had slid up the side of my head, and were definitely larger than they should be.
And fur curling up from under my collar.
I watched the final transformation as the last patches of my pink human flesh disappeared. And the tail - my tail - sprouted to its full length.
I knew I should be scared by all this, only I wasn’t. I was ecstatic. I was giddy. I was thrilled. Happiness just washed over me, Happiness filled me up.
Partly it was that he was involved in this club called The Sharing. They did all this stuff together, so he was busy a lot of the time.
Cassie has everything from porcupines to polar bears.
Marco spoke first. “Look, why do we have to deal with this? I say we just forget it. We never talk about it. We never morph. We just deal with our own lives.”
But I noticed that as Cassie emerged from the horse she was wearing a skintight blue outfit. One of those outfits girls wear to do aerobics. I watched and saw something beautiful happen. For just a few seconds, she stayed half-horse and half-human.
“You can all think I’m a weasel if you want,” Marco said.
“Well, you call me if you hear anything about these kids in the construction site. I should warn you - they may come up with some wild story to conceal their guilt. But you’re too smart to believe a bunch of crazy lies, aren’t you?"
“Just don’t punch me again, ’cause I might have to hit you back.”
“Tom. Tom is one of them. Your brother is a Controller.”
DNA has nothing to do with some injury. The DNA wasn’t broken. Just a wing
The Sharing was probably just like some new kind of coed Boy Scouts or something.

“It’s not exactly some video game, is it?" Marco said. “This is reality. You don’t know anything about reality, Jake. Nothing bad has ever really happened to you. You have this perfect family. Like I used to have.”

His voice cracked a little. He never talked about his mom’s death.

“Tonight’s a great meeting to come to,” Tom said enthusiastically. “We’re having a bonfire on the beach. You know, hanging out, playing games, and stuff. We play night volleyball, which is so funny because half the time guys can’t even see the ball. It’s great. It’s the best organization. You’ll love it.”
They would notice a horse.
All these so-called full members, they’re all being so perfectly nice. So perfectly helpful. They’re so perfectly normal it’s abnormal. And all the time their eyes are following you, watching you. Watching you like . . . like a hungry dog watching a bone.
“They are all just a little too happy, aren’t they?" Marco admitted. “People keep telling me how all their problems disappeared once they became a full member of The Sharing. It’s like some cult or something.”
Still Tobias hesitated. <I hate changing back. It’s like going back into a prison or something. I hate it when I don’t have wings.>
If I went around acting like “spy dog,” that would make people pay attention.
But dogs don’t know about despair.
I did it Monday morning in my locker at school. I turned into a lizard. A green anole, to be exact. It’s a member of the iguana family. Like you care.
My head jerked forward, fast as a striking snake. My jaws snapped. And suddenly the spider was in my mouth. I could feel it fighting. I could feel the spider’s legs squirming and fighting to get out of my mouth.

I tried to spit it out, but I couldn’t. The lizard’s hunger for that spider was too great. I swallowed the spider. It was like swallowing a whole canned ham. A canned ham that was fighting all the way down.

No, no, no! my brain cried in horror and disgust. But at the same time, the lizard brain was pleased. I could feel it become slightly calmer.

I had found the Yeerk pool. It was right under my school.
“Yeah, let’s rush right down there,” Marco said. “Then it can be us screaming.” I realized I had lost my appetite for nachos.

You know, back in the old days — I mean, the real, real old days — the Africans, the early Europeans, the Native Americans . . . they all believed animals had spirits. And they would call on those spirits to protect them from evil. They would ask the spirit of the fox for his cunning. They’d ask the spirit of the eagle for his sight. They would ask the lion for his strength.”

“I guess what we’re doing is sort of basic. Even though it was Andalite technology that made it possible. We’re still just scared little humans, trying to borrow the mind-of the fox, and the eyes of the eagle . . . or the hawk,”

“Oh, I’m sure we could talk them into letting us in for nothing,” Marco said. “Just tell them we’re Animorphs.”

“Tell them we’re what?" Rachel asked.

“Idiot teenagers with a death wish,” Marco said.

“Animorphs.” I tried the word out. It sounded okay.

“I still feel normal,” Cassie said. She looked troubled.

“Cassie, you can turn into a horse,”

That’s how they feed the animals and give them meds or whatever. Meds are medicines. Sorry.

“That is why we’re here, Jake,” Rachel pointed out. She batted her eyes at Marco. “How about you, Marco? Haven’t you always wanted to be a big, hairy guy?"

Marco didn’t look like he was crazy about the idea. But I knew how to handle Marco.

“Maybe Marco should try something easier for his first morph,” I said. “You know, like a cuddly little koala or something.”

That did it.

How about you, Marco? Haven’t you always wanted to be a big, hairy guy?

I squatted down on my haunches.

My butt touched something warm.

I had a terrible feeling right at that moment. I looked up and saw Marco. Normally, Marco has kind of a dark, tanned face. But his face was white. And his eyes were very large.

“Marco,” I said, very slowly and very quietly, “is there something behind me?” He nodded.

“What is it, Marco?"

“Um . . . Jake? It’s a tiger.”

A male Siberian tiger, to be exact. Ten feet long. Seven hundred pounds of deadly speed and unbelievable power.
“Don’t run,” I said. “It might just get his attention.”
“Eat the broccoli, Jake, it’s good for you. It’s full of trace minerals and vitamins you can’t get anywhere else.”

Suddenly, the rock walls widened out. We had emerged into a huge cavern.

And when I say huge, I mean huge. They could have played the Superbowl in there and had room left over for a couple of malls.

Instantly the woman cried out. “You filth, let me go! Let me go! I am a free woman! You can’t keep doing this! I am not a slave! Let me go!"

Two Hork-Bajir grabbed her. They dragged the woman to the nearest cage and threw her in.

“Help!" the woman screamed. “Oh, please, someone help. Help us all!"

Rachel was getting larger very fast.

My cousin Rachel now stood almost thirteen feet high and weighed about fourteen thousand pounds.

The weird thing was, I was happy about all this.

“Some people are scum, Rachel,” Marco said. “Sorry to burst your balloon.”
<I acquired this body on the fourth moon of the second planet of a dying star. Like it?>
Eight massive legs. Eight long, spindly arms, each ending in a three-fingered claw. And from the place where the top set of arms grew came the heads. Heads. Plural. Eight of them. This creature had a thing for the number eight
From one of the heads a round, spinning ball of flame erupted. A ball of flame that flew like a missile.
By the time we had climbed a few dozen stairs, there were only a few free humans and two free Hork-Bajir with us. The rest had all been recaptured or burned.


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