Book #23 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.


Animorphs #23
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

Hunting difficulties have made Tobias doubt whether he should really continue trying to live as a hawk. He gets some interesting news--that a cousin of his named Aria has returned from an African safari to find that Tobias is missing, and she wants to step up and take care of him. This is combined with some news that he is to read an important document left by his father on his birthday. The Animorphs think it's a trap, and they try to investigate. At the same time, a baby Hork-Bajir has wandered off and probably been taken by the Yeerks, so the Animorphs try to help find him. Tobias struggles with his loyalties and even deals with wishing to be human so he can have a family and have a relationship with Rachel. After a couple of missions to get the baby Hork-Bajir back end without success, Tobias finds out that Visser Three is posing as his cousin and the whole thing was a trap, because as the letter left by his father attests, he is the son of Prince Elfangor's human body, and the Yeerks thought he might have something to do with the Andalite bandits. He escapes suspicion by pretending to think the whole mess means his father was a crazy person, but now he feels more like living his halfway life is what he's supposed to be doing.

About this book:

Narrator: Tobias

New known controllers:

  • Guys who show up at Frank's Safari Land
  • People guarding the Yeerk facility in the forest
  • The lawyer DeGroot

New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: None
  • Cassie: Northern harrier (maybe a mistake?)
  • Marco: None
  • Rachel: None
  • Ax: None
  • Tobias: Rabbit, flea


  • In this book Tobias mentions the Ellimist and this is the first time the narration suggests there might not be more than one Ellimist. Ax always suggests the Ellimist is part of a race of Ellimists. But this book is the first time when it's been suggested "the Ellimist" might be the only one of his kind. (That's actually the case, but the Ellimist prefers to pretend there are more.)

  • Cassie is recognized by Ax in a harrier morph. Up to this point she's never used a harrier morph, so it's assumed she acquired it in this book or shortly before. However, she never uses it after either, so it's possible the author just forgot that Cassie's usual bird morph is an osprey.

  • In this book Tobias points out that Rachel's eagle morph is male, and that eagles and hawks don't mate anyway. This is pretty close to discussing actual sexuality, which doesn't happen often in these books. But since Tobias and Rachel like each other, this was an interesting place to put it. However, unless he just didn't realize he was wrong at the time, Tobias identified Rachel's eagle morph as female in a previous book.

  • Twice very close together in this book, the narration brings up "controversial" issues of the time. In discussing Tobias and Rachel being different species (which makes it difficult for them to date), Rachel brings up Jake and Cassie being different races and how "no one but a moron cares about that," so clearly a message is relayed in favor of interracial relationships. And shortly after that, in discussing humans' failure to get along with each other, Tobias's narration suggests it's unlikely humans will accept Hork-Bajir if they can't even tolerate gay people in their Boy Scouts. So, pro-homosexuality as well. Unusually progressive for a kids' book to just slide these issues in without actually focusing on them . . . and very refreshing!

  • Tobias uses a flea morph in this book, but it is not acquired in this book unless it's just not mentioned. Tobias could not have gotten a flea morph when everyone else did because he was not morph capable during the events of #2, and in #21 when most of the others became fleas he didn't go with them. He also uses the flea in later books, but this is the earliest in the series he uses it.

  • It's unclear why Aria is in the helicopter at the exact time when Tobias can see her. Visser Three clearly had to have a human morph to fit in the helicopter in order to come to the facility, but since he almost always uses a male human morph and has more than one, it seems a little too convenient that he happened to be using the Aria morph at the time he was called to the facility.

Best lines:

Tobias: Worst of all was the leaden pull of gravity. Not that a hawk ignores gravity. It's just not so . . . final when you have wings.

Tobias: Ax's human morph face was smeared with something I could only hope was chocolate.

Tobias: Someone wanted me. Family. Wanted to take care of me. Unless, of course, what they really wanted was to learn my secrets. And then kill me.

Toby: "The Hork-Bajir trusted Andalites to save us from the Yeerks. The Andalites failed. The Andalites took care of their own. We must do the same. We are grateful to the humans called Animorphs. But do you say we should trust all humans?"

Rachel: "Before we became Animorphs your entire day consisted of figuring out which girl to annoy next."
Marco: "And now I always know which girl to annoy next."

Tobias: Homework. I guess when you're fully human and a kid, there's just no escaping homework.

Rachel: "Hey, did Jake say knock down one wall? Or did he say knock down some walls?"
Tobias: "You know perfectly well he just wants you to get us into that place. He did not say you should knock the whole place down just because Frank is a creep and he mistreats animals. On the other hand, it is dark. You might get confused."
Rachel: "Yeah. I might."

Tobias: "Hey, Ax-man, what's up?"
Ax: "Up is the opposite of down. Although, of course, those terms are meaningless outside the context of a distinct, localized gravity field."
Tobias: "Ooookay."
Ax: "Was that funny? I was attempting a joke."

Rachel: "What am I supposed to do, Tobias? I'm a girl. You're a bird. This is way past Romeo and Juliet, Montagues and Capulets. This isn't Kate Winslet and Leo DiCaprio coming from different social groups or whatever. It's not like you're black and I'm white like Cassie and Jake. No one but a moron cares about that. We are . . . we can't hold hands, Tobias. We can't dance. We can't go to a movie together."

Tobias: Humans didn't have a great record of getting along with people different from themselves. Humans killed one another over skin color or eye shape or because they prayed differently to the same god. Hard to imagine humans welcoming seven-foot-tall goblins into the local Boy Scout troop when they couldn't even manage to tolerate some gay kid.

Next book: The Suspicion, Animorphs #24