The Invasion, by K.A. Applegate is the first book in the Animorphs series. Scholastic began reissuing this popular set of books back in May of this year. They have even spawned a television series. The new covers have a special glossy image which morphs back and forth between different creature-like images. A little creepy, but I figure I am not the real target audience for this book.
I can’t remember whether I have said so on the blog, but I know I have shared my creature aversion on several podcasts. It is one of the odd facts about me that invariably outs itself in record time. Whether it’s humans that are greenish with elven ears, talking human-animal combos, or even just talking animals in general, you can rest assured that I haven’t read it and have no interest in reading it. That means no Watership Down (though I loved The Secret of Nimnh), Where The Wild Things Are, no Star Trek or Star Wars, no Tolkien, just no. I have no idea what possessed me to pick up this little book about alien creatures’ invasion of Earth. Maybe I thought these might be cute to read with my cousin. The stories are a quick and interesting read, but they reinforced every aspect I have avoided about creature reading. That said, I will probably continue to read them with my cuz.
Basically, five friends take a shortcut they aren’t supposed to take and encounter a fallen space ship with a dying creature inside. He warns them of impending invasion and domination of Earth by slug-like creatures practicing mind control, taking over whatever body they can get their hot little hands on (or whatever it is that slugs have). Before being tortured and killed by one of the evil creatures, called Yerks, the friendly creature passes along the gift of being able to morph into animals to the five friends. They have to learn to use their new abilities to save the Earth from an invasion of creepy slug body snatchers. No pressure or anything. If nothing else this book is a textbook case of why kids shouldn’t take shortcuts forbidden by your parents.
Anyway, the main story focuses on Jake who seems to be the de facto leader of the group. He and his friends try to adjust to their new found abilities and uncover the secret lair of the Yerks. Things get especially hairy when the group suspects someone close to Jake may have been taken over by a Yerk. There are lessons on responsibility, leadership, and standing by your friends, and identity interspersed with enough grossness to entertain any middle graders requiring such stimulation. The series will appeal to both girls and boys, and may well be the first step toward many hours of escapism as there are several more books in the series. Oddly enough, my cousin hasn’t read the book yet (she’s reading Julie Hyzy’s State of the Onion) but both her mother and I are already to get started on the next book in the series. Go figure. Recommended.