Come Lately Reviews: K.A. Applegate and the Animorphs Series

To see a video review of each individual book in the Animorphs Series, check out Poparena’s Opinionated Animorphs Guide.

At the moment, I am going to tell you, in my own humble way, about the series and the author who changed my life. At the time, I was not aware of the books that were ghostwritten, nor was I aware that Michael Grant, her husband, also worked on some of the series. So if I miss giving anyone their proper respect, my apologies ahead of time, but Pop Arena’s reviews do a great job of covering what I may have missed (At some point I will even write a review about his work).

I was thirteen years-old. I had gotten into some trouble, which got me kicked out of school for a time. At this point in my life, there was one thing I can truly give credit to for helping me to work my way back into mainstream schooling: Animorphs.

Five kids are given the power to turn into any animal they touch, for two hours at a time, by an alien called Elfangor. During the series they use this morphing technology to battle another alien race called the Yeerks, who are slowly invading the Earth by infesting people enmasse and taking control of their bodies.

They are joined by Elfangor’s younger brother, Ax. Tobias becomes the series long PSA about staying in morph for more than two hours.

The books came out every single month – except for one scary length of time where the release date of the first special edition book was delayed – but after that the schedule was right back on. And because I had something to look forward to every single month, it helped me to remain in the positive frame of mind that I sorely needed in those troublesome months.

I wrote fanfiction. I read fanfiction. Forums weren’t a big thing back then, so I didn’t exactly argue with anyone, and I never wrote to KA Applegate, even though she was great about responding to her fan mail, which was posted on the website that I visited regularly. I think at the time, I was just so inspired by her, that I didn’t need to ply her with my questions. It was enough to see how much she treated her readers, who were roughly my age, with the respect that other adults often denied me.

One big example of the way she thanked her readers was back when the Scholastic contest was still active. You had to write so many words about what animal you would morph, and then the winners were asked to send in a photo so they could be “morphed” into that animal.

The winner was a boy named Erik King. Not only did KA Applegate name a character after him, but the character was basically the Sixth Power Ranger (if you don’t count the David Trilogy, which only counts if you’re focusing on the Green Ranger starting off as a bad guy), who would go on to be a very important character throughout the series.

Animorphs did not talk down to us either. This was not a “childish” series as one of my classmates once called it. No, when people are routinely dismembered, disemboweled,  and outright killed, “on screen” that is far from the definition of a children’s series, even by today’s standards.

It was this straightforward and respectful tone that was often lacking in Nickelodeon’s attempt at a television adaptation, which fans ultimately detested (even though there was an episode or two that actually wasn’t bad and at least one actor has gone on to bigger and better things).

The television series is also reviewed by Pop Arena, complete with an interview with one of the producers.

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