As I have decided to start doing now, I'll gloss over everything you need to know about the book before I get into some spoiler territory, which I will mark as containing spoilers.
My Copy of the Book: I noted in an entry a month or two back how I got this book to begin with - I found the first ten in this series as a quarter a piece (the condition they're in does leave something to be desired, but in better condition Half-Price was selling them at a buck a piece, which is a bit much, for a nostalgia-induced impulse buy) at the Franciscan Center near where I live. Out of all of the books I bought in the set, this one is in the absolute worst condition - so much so that I ended up selling it in the hopes that I can find another one in good condition if I can. This one is, frankly, a bit gross.
Summary: Do you not know of the Animorphs series? In case you don't -
*intake of deep breath*
Animorphs is a 90's-riffic sci/teen series that revolves around the desperate struggle that is a group of pre-teenagers who are gifted with the power to Morph by a dying alien prince who warns them of an oncoming invasion by an alien race who takes over the bodies of all members of a species on a planet until all members of a species are essentially meat puppets that enhance the further cruelty of the alien race that pushes further into the universe, with the Adalites at their tail. What this all essentially means in that the city that these children live appears to be the main point of entry for a subtle take-over of the human race on planet Earth, and as they were the ones who arrived on the scene of the dying Andalite prince, he gives the group of pre-teenagers a power previously known only to alien races - the power to change into anything that a being touches and creates a mind link with - in other words, living creatures. This means what you would think it does - the children gain an ability to change into whatever they have managed to touch and create a mind link with, which they use in a variety of ways to spy and counterrattack om those who seek to take over the Earth(tm).
*Deep draw in of breath*
If you were not a kid in the 90's, you very well may have skipped past this series but if you didn't, then this all may sound all too familiar to you. Hell, you might have been fanatical for this series back in the day.
The real question here, though, is does the first book in the series stand by itself right now.
Simple answer? Well, this isn't the best written thing I've ever come across and I have moments in the story where I want to throw my hands up and yell, "Why? What!", but to be frank, I feel as though a part of that just adds to some of the fun - the campy, nostalgic kind of "bad quality" that just reminds you of those days when you wondered what a Reptar Bar must have tasted like and when you could watch any episodes of Goosebumps that was not The Haunted Mask or any of the Night of the Living Dummy without bursting into laughter. Fuck it, I'm biased as hell, why deny it?
Still - there are very real problems, such as with continuity or your usual, "If the aliens are so scientifically advanced, why can't they tell their being fucked with by 90'S KIDS?", and I am therefore not saying that this book is not without very real issues that could be cleared up, if someone ever got around to waving money in front of Applegate with the caveat that she clean this shit UP.
I really like this book. No, I mean it - all of the little details lead up to making me surprisingly fulfilled, happy. I feel like Applegate really got the mindset of a kid eerily well, in a way that other writers just keep fucking up over and over. If only for the fact that Applegate clearly knows how to write kids I think that this book deserves a read, if you want to read some middle school fare.
Want to know what I especially appreciated? Although outdated, I think that with the way that Applegate describes Jake's liking of video games was so real and sincere, coming across as though he actually PLAYS them.
"At that moment, something weird happened. I was looking at Tom, and he was smiling at me. But then his face twitched."
Who Should Read This: A Science Fiction fan who wants to read something for Middle Schoolers who has a dark streak. This stuff is for kiddos with some real courage!