Book #4 in the series Animorphs
by K.A. Applegate.
Disclaimer: If you've heard of Animorphs and you're thinking "Aww, how
cute," maybe you should read my introduction to the first book
to see how wrong you are.
by K.A. Applegate
Cassie and Tobias have been hearing a weird distress call coming from under
the sea. It turns out that it's a stranded Andalite ship, and Cassie, in an
unusual position of decision-making, has to figure out what to do. The
Animorphs run a mission to investigate the submerged ship, morphed as
dolphins, and though they successfully enter the ship and find an abandoned
and scared teenaged Andalite, the Yeerks have found the ship too. The
Animorphs and their new friend Ax face Visser Three briefly, and enlist the
help of whales to defeat their foe. Ax the Andalite becomes a part of their
team, accepting Jake as his "prince," and Cassie dedicates herself even more
deeply to fighting the Yeerks for Mother Earth.
This book opens with Cassie solving a small mystery in her everyday life:
What in the world is coming in and harassing the injured birds in her
family's wildlife rehab clinic? However, she solves this mystery in an
unusual way: by turning into a squirrel in order to spy as inconspicuously as
possible on her own barn, to see what is sneaking in. Also Cassie reveals
that she's doing this because she can't sleep due to abnormal dreams. She's
had to turn her mind to other matters.
Turning into a squirrel has its drawbacks right away. Though she is able to
find out that it was a fox sneaking into the barn at night, she also has a
near miss almost becoming food for Tobias the hawk. Being that he's not a
real hawk but a human trapped in morph, he of course changes his mind about
making her dinner, but it scared her pretty good. Though she did find a
really good nut. Tobias ends up saving her from being lunch for the fox in
the barn as well. As she is turning back to human, her father almost catches
her with a squirrel tail, which is amusing. After her dad leaves, Cassie and
Tobias discuss the fact that they've suddenly been having the same dreams
about a voice calling to them from under the sea.
Tobias and Cassie take their discovery to a meeting of the Animorphs. None
of the others seem to have had any dreams at all. However, Jake saw a
segment on the news that a weird piece of metal washed up on the beach during
a storm, and he recognized the alphabet on the metal as Andalite writing.
When he reveals this, Cassie has a fainting spell and falls down, blacking
Cassie has a "dream" about someone calling to her from below the sea again,
and awakens to find she is in Jake's arms. They very nearly call the
ambulance, but she insists she's all right, then notices that the same thing
happened to Tobias at the same time. The others, when they think about it,
notice they felt a little bit of something, and they determine it might have
been a distress call from an Andalite. They vote unanimously to try to help
The kids go to the beach and try to rustle up clues. They discuss why an
Andalite would reach Cassie and Tobias so clearly while hardly attracting the
others' attention, since obviously none of the kids are Andalites. They
determine that perhaps it's because Tobias is permanently in morph while
Cassie has a talent for using the Andalite ability, so they might be more in
tune with the messages sent from the Andalite's thought-speak. While they're
pondering this, helicopters are sighted and they have to hide while Tobias
investigates. It turns out that their company is made up of agents from the
enemy Yeerks' front organization, The Sharing. Jake's brother is with them.
And worst of all, it turns out that Visser Three has heard these calls for
help too, because of his stolen Andalite body. The scouts discover the kids'
tracks, and they have to run for it, being unable to morph because then they
would leave evidence: Tracks that went from human to animal. Suddenly
someone starts shooting at them.
Thinking fast, the kids run into the water and morph to trout, which is their
only water-breathing option even though they're in salt water. The
Controllers are discussing where the kids could have gone, and one of them
wonders whether Visser Three is wrong about the "Andalite bandits" really
being Andalites. The Sharing members decide that it must have just been some
kids and that no one should have been shooting at them, and that if Visser
Three is wrong it doesn't matter because no one would have the courage to
suggest it to him. The kids swim away as best they can, even though being a
trout in salt water is rather tough on all of them.
After their narrow escape, the kids go back to their everyday lives for a
while, not meeting as Animorphs. Then Jake comes over to help Cassie with
her barnyard duties (i.e., shoveling manure), and they discuss what they're
going to do. Apparently everyone's been waiting for Cassie to grab the
reins, which shocks her. But it's her dream, Jake tells her, and so it's her
responsibility. Cassie doesn't want to decide, but when Jake tells her he'll
decide if she won't, she knows she has to be the one to decide what to do.
She decides she definitely wants to do a mission to find and save the
Andalite, and tries to think of an ocean animal that they can acquire that
isn't likely to eaten by something in the ocean. Jake leaves it up to her to
The Animorphs go to The Gardens to find an animal to take them underwater.
On the way they discuss their opinions of morphing. Jake expresses sadness
that a roller coaster is nothing special now that he can do 200 mph in the
middle of the air as a falcon. Marco used to want to work out to get all
manly, but being a gorilla made him think, "What's the point?" And Rachel
has managed to use her experiences as a cat to enhance her gymnastics skills.
After the kids get in the park, they head for a dolphin tank, meet some
dolphins, and acquire their DNA while feeding them fish. Cassie thinks
taking the dolphins' DNA is wrong, like morphing a dolphin is too much like
what Yeerks do: Stealing their bodies.
The kids meet by the river the next day. Tobias has acquired a tiny watch in
order to keep track of their time limit, and the sight of a bird wearing a
watch amuses everyone. The others ask Cassie to do the first morph since she
is the best morpher, and she finds that being a dolphin is quite fun; they
have a playful, fearless outlook. From the river, the Animorphs swim to the
Swimming further out to sea, the kids give in to the dolphin instincts that
tell them to play around and engage in little dolphin games, and Tobias has
to be their reality check. Tobias tells them to do something to find the
Andalite ship that might be under the waves, but all they're concerned about
is whether finding the Andalite ship will be fun. Cassie discovers that she
can echolocate, and in trying to compare notes with the others to see if they
can do it too, they discover that they are very close to some sharks. Things
get a little more serious at that point.
They realize that some sharks are attacking a whale, and since they feel some
kind of kinship with the whale, they go to help it, led (of course) by
Rachel. They attack the sharks, and Cassie manages to wound a shark to the
point of making it bleed, which causes the other sharks to chase their
brother. Then they realize that Marco was seriously injured in the fight,
with his tail pretty much bitten off.
Jake consults Cassie on what to do with Marco, who is rapidly dying. She
suggests he morph back to human in order to restore himself to health. They
aren't sure if that will work, but they are willing to try anything, and
Marco morphs to his human body again, being kept afloat by his dolphin
friends since he can't swim even when he feels fine. But then, strangely
enough, the whale surfaces and comes up underneath the party, and is somehow
able to communicate to them its gratitude for their help. It doesn't speak,
it just tells them thank you. It turns out that the dolphins can somehow
communicate with whales. The whale tells Cassie the story of its life,
ending by explaining that it had never seen a "little one" (a dolphin) that
turned into a human. Cassie says they are something new in the sea, at which
point the whale reveals that they are not the only "new thing." It has
information about the Andalite ship, and it tells Cassie where it is. The
Animorphs, satisfied, return home, after Marco has successfully re-morphed as
a dolphin, uninjured.
The next day, Cassie shows up at Marco's house, interrupting some private
time with his dad in order to apologize for almost getting him killed. He
insists it isn't her fault if he gets killed, it's the fault of the whole
crazy Animorphs mission, but she's not used to the responsibility so she
feels it all the same. Marco reveals to her that he saw some disturbing news
in the paper: The Yeerks are organizing a couple missions to look around in
the ocean, using the cover that a dive mission and a lost treasure ship are
going to be doing underwater work in that area. Cassie wants to go help if
there's an Andalite down there, but she worries about having her friends'
lives in her hands again. Marco assures her that she can decide to do
something or decide to do nothing, but anything she does is a decision.
At a meeting, the Animorphs decide it would be possible to morph to seagulls,
hitch a ride on a boat, and buy some time by riding on it as humans until
they're far out enough to jump into the sea as dolphins and have no danger of
going over the two-hour time limit. Tobias has to be left out of the
mission because he can't fly that far. They determine that they're
certifiably crazy for dreaming up this mission, given its dangerousness.
Cassie and Jake discuss their mortality.
Morphing to seagulls has the kids finding lots of junk food, acting as the
scavengers they are. They manage to alight on a boat and resume their human
forms, finding it's pretty cold out. They kill time for an hour, then are
confronted with the problem of getting down to the water. They end up
jumping in as human, all except Marco, who halfway completes his dolphin
morph before going over the side, so that he won't have to deal with being
unable to swim. They make it to their dolphin forms, and then Cassie is
better able to understand the memories she has of where the ship is. Just as
they're about to dive to find it, they realize the Yeerks have also found the
right spot to dive.
The four dolphin/humans dive as deep as they can and manage to actually find
the ship, which has a strange park-like environment (complete with grass)
under a transparent bubble. They begin to run out of air as they search for
a way to enter the ship, and just in time they manage to find an entranceway.
They morph back to human and are inside the ship. They venture into the
next chamber, only to be knocked into unconsciousness.
They awaken to the thought-speak voice of an Andalite. The voice says that
they have been stunned and that if they move they will be killed. They get
their first view of the Andalite, and Marco unwisely comments that he hopes
it's a real Andalite and not Visser Three. The Andalite is offended by that
and almost kills Marco, but when they reveal they heard his distress call,
they agree to loosen up and talk. The Andalite is very confused that a
distress call aimed only at his cousins has reached these humans, and he
wants to know why they know of Andalites. At that point they reveal that
they met another Andalite only to watch him be killed. Strangely enough,
this Andalite turns out to be Prince Elfangor's brother. He is shocked by
the news of his warrior brother's death, and asks for details about his final
battle and his honor. Jake provides all that the Andalite asks.
Jake explains that they also fight the Yeerks, and though the Andalite is
surprised and disturbed to find that his brother broke some sort of rule to
give them the morphing power, he accepts that it must be true. He is also
pleased to find that this is indeed a rescue party only for him. He treats
them kindly now and offers them rest.
The kids discover, in conversation, that the Andalite was sequestered in the
dome part of the ship because he was too young for battle when the Yeerks
attacked in orbit. He's also a young one of his kind, so they bond with him
over that fact. After telling him that all his warriors and superiors were
killed in the battle, the Andalite agrees to become part of their party and
follow Jake as his "prince," and introduces himself as
Aximili-Esgarrouth-Isthil. Marco shortens that to Ax.
Cassie receives a startling revelation in the next bit. Ax explains that the
Yeerks generally conquer a planet and then make it as much like their
homeworld as they can, eliminating anything unnecessary or irrelevant.
Cassie was, of course, disturbed by the idea of Yeerks taking over people's
minds and running the planet, but the idea of destroying all the wildlife and
environments, destroying her Mother Earth, is abhorrent to her, and her
passion to fight against them grows even more. Ax also mentions that the
Andalite backup forces are due to arrive at Earth in only about two years.
Jake is disheartened by that. Two years seems like an awfully long time for
six kids to fight against a race that has destroyed a big part of the galaxy.
After that, Ax won't reveal any more of why the Andalites haven't been
successful in destroying the Yeerk menace if they're so great, and to break
up the fight that might have started between Ax and Rachel over that, Cassie
suggests they morph and get out of the ship. As they are morphing, the ship
suddenly gets attacked by Yeerks. They finish morphing and get out of there.
In the open ocean, it seems as though they won't really be hurt, until it is
revealed that the alien Taxxons can swim, and do so well. Jake gives the
order to fight.
Four dolphins and one shark have no problem demolishing a dozen Taxxons.
They aren't tough like Earth animals are, and the Animorphs get out unharmed,
to surface and breathe. The only problem is, the Taxxons are not the Yeerks'
only weapon. Visser Three is in the ocean as an alien called a mardrut
(which Ax is able to identify). And it gives chase. Ax is surprised that
Jake and the others know that it is Visser Three in morph, and is very
impressed that they have fought him before and lived.
They swim away from the mardrut for an hour and a half, until they weaken
terribly. The mardrut is tireless and keeps up with them, gaining and taunting them once he is in range.
Eventually they decide to stand and fight, at which point Jake's order to do
so impresses the Andalite into saying they have a lot in common. Then Cassie
hears the whale's song, and signals to it that she needs help, and quick.
Five whales arrive and beat the crap out of Visser Three until he retreats.
Cassie and her whale rejoice, and Cassie gets the feeling that the whale
didn't come only to help her, but to fight an abomination it felt in its
home, just the way Cassie feels about her planet being invaded by that
menace. The whale allows them all to demorph and ride on its back as close
to shore as it can take them. Cassie falls asleep on the ride.
As they arrive back at their river, Ax watches them put on their clothes and
is confused by that custom. He meets Tobias, who is thrilled to meet the
brother of that great warrior with whom he bonded so deeply. Ax gives Tobias
honor for paying the price of being trapped in hawk morph. Cassie decides
she wants to take Ax to her farm so he has somewhere to run around far from
the city, but in order to get him there he has to morph. He ends up taking
DNA from all four of the human Animorphs and using it to create a melding of
them, a single (strangely pretty) male human form that he can use for his
necessary human interactions. Unfortunately he puts on his clothes
incorrectly and doesn't know how to use his mouth, so he plays with all the
words and sounds. The kids are sure he'll never pass for normal.
After they've all calmed down, a couple days later, and Ax is settled in an
area where he won't be seen, Cassie takes a night flight to The Gardens and
swims with the dolphins. She does it to reconcile her fears and guilt about
becoming an intelligent animal, to kind of apologize to the dolphins. But
once she's a dolphin herself, swimming with them, she finds it hard to care
about anything, and knows that they wouldn't mind it even if they could
About this book:
New known controllers:
New morphs acquired:
- Cassie points out that there are poisoned wolves being rescued in her barn. These same wolves figured into the plot in the previous book, but only one was mentioned as having been poisoned and the other had been shot.
- Rachel's bulletin board used to have cute little inspirational quotes on
it. Now the wise sayings include battle advice from the masters. She is
already becoming passionate about this battle this early on.
- Marco saves everyone's butt with his tactical skills when he reminds them
that they can't morph while running away or their tracks will give them away
as humans turning into animals. They have to maintain that their guerilla
group is all Andalites so that their families are not put in danger. Marco's
beginning to use his skills in actual life-or-death situations instead of
just in video games.
- Cassie's family has owned their farm since the Civil War.
- Cassie doesn't want to morph whales or dolphins because she thinks
morphing intelligent creatures is wrong. This issue comes up quite a lot
more in the later books, about morphing intelligent sea animals, other
humans, and intelligent aliens.
- It is noted in this book for certain that if one of the Animorphs is
wounded while in morph, then morphing back to human form will restore them to
perfect health even if they morph that same animal again immediately. The
DNA is not harmed, hence the Andalite technology still works using the DNA as
a perfect map.
- Ax is disturbed by his brother's gift of morphing technology to humans
because it breaks the law of Seerow's Kindness. This law's purpose and
origins are revealed in The Andalite Chronicles.
- Ax is revealed to have not been the best of students when he was in his
Andalite school. He does not know as much about the mardrut as he should
because he was not paying attention that day in school. The gaps in the
Andalite's knowledge come up often in later books.
- Cassie feels hate for the first time she can remember during this book.
She feels it in response to Visser Three, knowing he is orchestrating a plan
to terraform her world into something ugly.
- Ax collects DNA from all four humans and combines it into one human. It
is a bit odd that he knows how to do this and can do it on his first try
without any problems, considering he is also the least experienced morpher of
the group (even though the morphing is his species's technology). None of
the others thought to do this maneuver, though Cassie definitely could if Ax
could. It seems a little inconsistent, like this DNA-mixing trick was
invented just so Ax could have an acceptable human morph. It could have been
used for lots of other good purposes too, but no one ever seemed to think of
it, or think it was odd that Ax knew how to combine DNA and no one else did.
Cassie (having just morphed into a squirrel): Oh, wait. Was
that a nut? I hopped over to the nut. YES! A chestnut! I seized it in my
little front claws and began immediately to chew a hole in it.
Excellent! Wonderful! Chestnut! And I had it! No one could take
it away. Hah hah!
: "Hey, Tobias, I've been meaning to ask you, are hawks
s? I mean, do they poop
while they're flying?"
: "Depends on who's down below. Let me just put it
this way--if you get on my nerves
, you'd better buy a hat."
: "I was there at the construction site
, same as all of
you. I was there when Visser Three--What I mean is, if there's an Andalite
who needs anything, I'm there."
: "I don't want to get my friends killed."
: "And let me assure you your friends don't want to get
killed, either. I am completely opposed to getting killed."
: "Marco, you know, for a guy who's always joking
around and being annoying, you're awfully smart."
: "Yeah, I know, but don't tell anyone. It would
destroy my image."
: "Have our lives gotten really weird
, or is it just
: "Weird? Weird? The talking bird wants to know if
getting information on the location of an alien from a whale
, that you've
just saved from sharks, by turning into dolphins . . . You're suggesting
: "First we morph into something like a seagull
: "I hate plans that begin with the words 'first we
: "There's a ship up ahead."
: "You just now noticed it? Wow. Seagull
exactly great, are they? It's a container ship called Newmar
from Monrovia. You want to know what color the captain's hair is?"
Next book: The Predator, Animorphs #5