Animorphs is an English language science fiction series of young adult books written by K. A. Applegate and published by Scholastic. Five humans, Jake, Marco, Cassie, Rachel, and Tobias, and one alien, Aximili (nicknamed Ax), obtain the ability to morph into any animal they touch. They name themselves "Animorphs", a portmanteau of "animal morphers". Using their ability, they battle a secret alien infiltration of Earth. It is told in first person, with the Animorphs taking turns narrating the books. Applegate cycles through the six protagonists, telling their story of the secret war through each of their perspectives. By using this, she explores many of the dark aspects of the human condition. Horror, war, dehumanization, sanity, morality, innocence, leadership, and growing up are core motifs of the series.
Published between June 1996 and May 2001, the series consisted of 54 books and includes ten companion books, eight of which fit into the series' continuity (the Animorphs Chronicles and Megamorphs books) and two that are gamebooks not fitting into the continuity (the Alternamorphs books). The characters grow up throughout the series, struggling to cope with the compromises and retreats they must make to win the war. The series allows the reader to observe the human condition as the characters are forced by their new, deadly circumstances to face the darkest, and also the brightest, parts of themselves. The series was originally conceived as a three-part series called The Changelings, in which Jake is named Matt, and his little brother Joseph takes the place of Cassie.
In an interview with Publishers Weekly, Applegate talked about the source of inspiration and realization for the Animorphs series: "I grew up loving animals and lived with the usual suburban menagerie of dogs, cats and gerbils," she said, "I really wanted to find a way to get kids into the heads of various species and decided that a science-fiction premise was the way to do this." Applegate tried to accurately depict the various animals, and did research such as visiting "a raptor center where they rehabilitate injured birds".
To develop the characters for Animorphs, K. A. Applegate would go through teenage magazines such as YM and Seventeen (both of which are referenced in the books when describing Rachel), cutting out pictures and piecing them together to get an idea of what sort of kids the Animorphs would look like. K. A. Applegate has stated in an interview online [http://web.archive.org/web/19990420122604/www.scholastic.com/animorphs/accord05.htm] that many of the names for her alien creatures, races, and locations are actually scrambled names of local street signs or companies that she happens to notice. For instance, the word nothlit was derived from the hotel name Hilton. According to the Anibase, K. A. Applegate did not make up the titles for the Animorphs books: it was up to the Scholastic editors to create the titles for the books based on the outlines provided by the author, having to select a word that not only fit the book's storyline, but sounded good with the characteristic "The" preface. One of the author's favorite books, The Lord of the Rings, lent several words and images to Animorphs: the elvish word for Orc, "yrch", became Yeerk; the flaming red Eye of Sauron inspired the Crayak, and Ax's middle name, "Esgarrouth", is the name of a town in the book. The human name of Ax's brother, Elfangor, is Alan Fangor and his last name is in reference to the Fangor region or Fangorn Forest. Also there was a minor reference to Gondor, in the form of a fictional company named "Gondor Industries" in the 14th book. (It may also be significant that Visser Three's host is named Alloran, a rough homonym of Gandalf's Valinor name "Olórin", and that one of the minor alien races is called "the Five", which is also a term used in The Lord of the Rings for the Istari.)
Read more about Animorphs at Wikipedia ...
Official Site: K. A. Applegate
Links: Wikipedia Scholastic.com The Animorphs Reference Page