The Animorphs novels, by K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant, were hugely popular when I was a kid and I was obsessed with them for a number of years. An exciting, and surprisingly dark, sci-fi, action series for tweens, Animorphs captivated me with it’s high-stakes, surprising twists and memorable cast of teen characters, all of whom take turns serving as the point-of-view character, giving each of them the chance to be the main hero.
But the series was also super long, and I only got about halfway through it before I’d outgrown the series and moved on to other books aimed at older readers. I’ve always kind of regretted not sticking it out and finishing the series though; I really do want to know what happened to that scrappy group of kids and their quest to save the planet.
Well, maybe now I’ll finally get the chance to find out, since the Animorphs books are getting a brand-new graphic novel adaptation by Chris Grine!
Jake and his friends, Marco, Tobias, Rachel and Cassie, stay out a little too late at the mall one evening and decide to cut through a construction site to save time on their way home – a decision they soon have cause to regret. A strange light appears in the sky and the five teens are shocked when it turns out to be from a damaged, alien space-craft, which proceeds to land right in front of them! An injured alien named Elfangor stumbles out of the ship and psychically warns them that their planet is in the process of being invaded by an evil, alien race called Yeerks. These parasitic, alien slugs can enter a person’s body and take control of it, all while retaining access to that person’s memories and knowledge, so even their closest friends and family can’t tell that anything is wrong. Before the Yeerks pursuing him catch up, Elfangor gives Jake and his friends a gift: the ability to transform into any animal whose DNA they can acquire through direct contact. Moments later, Elfangor is killed when he is found by the Yeerk forces, but Jake and the other four manage to get away. Now they are the only people on Earth who know that the planet is in danger and they have to find a way to use their new powers to fight back, all the while never knowing who in their lives might secretly be a host to a Yeerk!
This might be the nostalgia talking, but this was a really fun read.
It’s been a while since I originally read the Animorphs books, but I remember them well enough to say with confidence that this is an excellent adaptation that captures all of the major events, as well as the overall feel, of the novel. Revisiting this story was a blast and I enjoyed seeing these characters again, though I was a little surprised by how my feelings regarding some of them had changed. When I was a kid, the angsty, outcast Tobias was by far my favourite character, but during this reading I gravitated more to the pragmatic Marco. He’s is always quick with a joke and doesn’t want to have anything to do with this dangerous saving-the-world business, but Marco also can’t bring himself to back out of the fight and abandon his friends. I found him to be the most relatable of the kids; I wouldn’t want to become a super-hero either, even if it did mean I’d have kick-ass animal-transformation powers.
Animorphs: The Invasion The Graphic Novel also has a lot to offer new readers. The story is exciting, with plenty of tension surrounding the question of who might be a host and the fact that the kids can’t really trust anyone but themselves anymore; the fight scenes are crazy, with each of the kids transforming into different animals and duking it out with a host of different aliens that the Yeerks have managed to enslave; and the main characters are a diverse group of courageous but clueless teens that play off of each other in interesting ways. They frequently disagree on what the best course of action is, but they’re also still friends who care about each other and that lets them work well together in a pinch. Jake is the dependable leader; Rachel is brave and tough, but a bit too impulsive; Tobias is sensitive and kind of awkward; Marco is a jokester and more fearful then the rest because he’s experienced loss first hand; and Cassie is gentle and kind-hearted and also the most useful member of the group, since her parents are veterinarians and she has access to a wide variety of animals that the teens can acquire DNA from.
I thought Chris Grine’s art style was a good fit for the series. It’s a bit cartoony, with the kids all having cute designs, but the monstrous aliens all look appropriately menacing and the action scenes are fast-paced and exciting. Some of the drawings of the kids mid-transformation look weird, and even a little grotesque, but I think this is intentional – after all, some of the transformations that were featured on the cover-art of the original books looked pretty creepy, if I recall.
Animorphs: The Invasion the graphic novel is a great adaptation and a perfect comic for tweens and younger teens who are interested in science-fiction and super-hero stories. It might be a little too scary for younger children though, as there are some pretty dark and sad moments. Overall I was very happy with this adaptation and, if you’re an old fan of the books like me, I’d recommend checking it out.
Final Score: 8 out of 10
What did you think of this comic? If you’re a fan of the books, did you think this was a good adaptation? And which of the kids is your favourite character? Let me know in the comments!
For more information on this book, check out Scholastic’s website.
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