The Invasion (Animorphs, 1), K.A. Applegate
Prior to reading the Animorphs, my series reading consisted of The Hardy Boys and Hank the Cowdog. In 4th grade, I discovered the Animorphs series, much to the dismay of my grade school teacher. Dismay because as an author herself, she loathed that I was reading a book series that was not written by the author, instead by an army of ghost writers.
Years later, I would try to look back and see how far I went into the series, fairly certain it was book #32, The Separation, a storyline where a character in the story is more or less “cloned” after morphing into a starfish. All the plots of the books meld together in my memory, in a similar way that plots of individual comic books begin to be forgotten, only remembering overarching storylines. But in my research into the series, I was surprised to discover that very few books in the series were actually ghost written.
Of the entire series, I have only have ever reread The Invasion, which I reread during my first year of teaching after purchasing a copy at one of the Scholastic warehouse sales. It was just as fun as the first time I read it. Five kids come across a crashed alien spaceship, are given the ability to transform into animals, and find out about an evil plot to take over planet.
I mean, how much fun is that plot?
Young adult literature really seemed to take off once I got to college, following the rise of The Hunger Games and Twilight fandom. But, at the time I was in elementary, middle, and high school the selection of YA was pretty limited. Goosebumps was all the craze, but I never was drawn to the series, having only read Deep Trouble, a teen Jaws knockoff. Animorphs became my obsession, which would eventually lead me to more and more science fiction and fantasy, culminating with my high school reading teacher asking, “What are you trying to escape?”
That question both offended me and struck deeply, staying in the background of my mind nearly every time I picked up a new comic book or finished another fantasy novel. I eventually accepted what I had been trying to escape, and it wasn’t easy. But, by that time, my sci-fi, fantasy, and comic book fandom had been cemented. The Animorphs series was my gateway into the realms of Narnia, Westeros, the Two Rivers, and so much more.
Although, I do wonder if there was something more to my gateway of choice. Was I drawn to this series for its transformation storylines? Or, was it simply a fun comic book-esque series about the triumph of good vs. evil?