Book #20 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 #20 (a.k.a. the first book in the "David Trilogy")
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot:

The Animorphs thought the blue box that gave them their morphing powers was destroyed along with Elfangor's ship, but apparently it hasn't been since Marco sees some kid named David walking around with it at school. David makes a dumb move and advertises the device on the internet to try to sell it, which makes Visser Three very interested. The Animorphs try to get the box, but during their second attempt a battle ensues and the Yeerks get David's parents. David isn't able to go home, and the Animorphs decide to adopt him and make him part of their team (since they now have the capability to give others the morphing power with the device). However, Marco believes David might be a poor choice for their first Animorph convert; he has some suspicious personality traits that rub Marco the wrong way. Despite that, they give him the morphing power and get him some morphs he can use, and then he's included in his first mission: a world leaders' meeting is happening nearby, and Erek the Chee told them at least one of the leaders is already a Controller. They need to figure out which one and more about the Yeerks' plans, but when they see the President's helicopter get abducted and invade the Yeerk Blade ship, they find out that Visser Three has kidnapped the President for morphing purposes, and they barely have time to figure out what to do about it before they fall out of the President's helicopter and into the air, ending on a cliffhanger.

About this book:

Narrator: Marco

New known controllers:

  • David's dad
  • David's mom
  • At least one of the world leaders coming to a secret meeting Security guards at the hotel

New morphs acquired:


  • K.A. Applegate, despite being a female writer, does a pretty good job writing males sometimes. (Not that that should be surprising; it's just notable.) Marco has been pointed out to be sort of unintentionally sexist and sort of entitled sometimes, and his attempts to "compliment" women by saying something offensive and then being whiny about them not taking his compliments right was handled realistically.

  • We learn that the morphing cube that gives people morphing powers is called the Escafil Device.

  • Cassie's risky behavior in the previous book had repercussions: Marco doesn't trust her much at all and is still dealing with that. It's nice to see that the risks she took and the way she endangered everyone had a lasting effect in a realistic fashion.

  • It's unclear why Tobias didn't steal the morphing cube when he had the chance. It seems a lot more likely that swooping in, grabbing it, and escaping would work much better than delaying--both because of possible interception and because multiple birds flying in the window is more likely to get noticed than just one. It also doesn't make sense that Tobias isn't big enough to carry the cube because when Rachel's larger bird morph is brought in, it's stated that she's too big to fit through the window.

  • It's unclear why David thinks he's playing it smart by having a time-delay on his e-mail. Sending out his address to a person who wants to come over and see his mysterious blue object only a little before he gets home from school "so the guy can't just rip him off while he's at school" makes no sense. If people wanted to rip him off, they could wait until the next day to come over if they wanted to, so who does he think he's fooling, and why couldn't he just send the mail once he was home?

  • Marco clicks on "the AOL icon" on a computer at one point, despite the fact that their AOL substitute in a previous book was called "Web Access America."

  • There seems to be a contradiction here in how e-mail works. Marco repeatedly refers to yanking out the phone cord as a way to stop David's e-mail from going out, so they must be on dial-up. But from context, it seems whatever ISP they use couldn't have been signed on for the e-mail to go out; if David has AOL, it's unlikely he has some alternate way to get online during the time this was written. (The phone was also used for a phone call during the time Marco was trying to access the AOL software, but it's possible the family had two phone lines.) How did the e-mail go out if nobody was signed on? I also don't think that mail could be set on a timer through AOL, but that could be incorrect; unsent mail was usually stored in a local (on the computer only) file, not a web-based one.

  • Marco notes at one point that he's had two, four, six, and eight legs but never no legs before becoming a snake. Technically, while morphing a trout, a dolphin, and a shark, he had no legs then either.

  • One of Visser Three's morphs is a monster called a Dule Fansa. It has cone-like protrusions at the ends of its arms that can become projectile weapons, and it is big and purple.

  • Marco notes that American citizenship is very important to him because his mother was born in another country.

  • The narration seems rather deliberate about not telling the reader what battle morph David was given, though it is revealed that he got it at the zoo. The next book reveals that it was in fact a lion.

  • This is the first cliffhanger-ending book since Animorphs started.

Best lines:

Marco: The Andalites are very, very advanced. I hear they even have a Web browser that actually works. Not to mention that whole faster-than-light space-travel thing.

Marco: "Look for a pool. It was sort of kidney-shaped."
Ax: "A pool? A Yeerk pool?"
Marco: "No, just a human pool."
Ax: "I've never heard of such a thing. Are they necessary for reproduction?"

Next book: The Threat, Animorphs #21

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