The Invasion (Animorphs #1) – written by K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant, illustrated by Chris Grine

 The Invasion (Animorphs #1) – written by K.A. Applegate and Michael Grant, illustrated by Chris Grine, Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., 9781338226485, 2020

Format: Paperback ARC

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Genre: Sci-Fi (graphic novel)

What did you like about the book?  Animorphs has been, sadly, out of print for nearly ten years after a re-publishing attempt by Scholastic in 2010 was met with low sales; the company only re-released 8 of the 52 volume series. This latest resurrection comes in the form of a colorful and action-packed graphic novel, perfect for the book’s quick pace and unique mechanics.

The plot itself is intriguing enough as readers come to understand, alongside our five young protagonists, that earth is already under invasion by a dangerous and supremacist species called Yeerks and a group of school kids not even old enough to drive are the only hope for humanity.  Though this information is presented within only a handful of pages, it doesn’t seem artificially rushed or exposition-heavy as there is plenty more to learn and we get to discover it naturally. Next to all of this are some difficult issues that our heroes come up against with death being presented within the first act of the story. These heavier topics add a dose of realism that readers seek and add strong emotions behind the general story.

Grine’s art style matches the feel of this title incredibly well.  The panels have a clear focus, making the story flow more easily and keeps the pace quick, even during conversations. Though the ARC included only a portion of the pages in full-color, these were well done and made the scenes pop more with primarily bright colors. Young readers will love the transformations as they are illustrated to include the notably “awkward” middle phase where the person is half-human and half-animal; though I never read the series myself, kids always love to look at the covers of the old series and point out the transformations to friends, leading me to believe that this style was included full on-purpose.Anything you didn’t like about it?  While undeniably captivating, the book has a few weak points (which may or may not be fixed in the final publication). The characters have minimal page time to become individuals for the reader and we’re often left with a general mishmash of conversation instead of gaining an idea of anyone’s personality, leaving us to fill-in-the-blanks with general tropes as we go along.  In addition, a few points in the book notably lack transitions so you don’t notice that the book has skipped forward in time until a character mentions something they learned “off screen.” A few times I thought, “Did I accidentally miss a page,” and flipped back only to discover that the book simply left out that vital portion to show that their characters are off elsewhere doing or learning something without us.

To whom would you recommend this book?  This is a fanatics pick for upper elementary to middle school readers. Fans of Kibuishi’s Amulet series or those ready for something more serious after Hatke’s Mighty Jack or Maihack’s Cleopatra in Space will be drawn to this story as well.

Who should buy this book? Highly recommended to all libraries with a J graphic novel collection.

Where would you shelve it ? J Graphic Novels

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? A must read for fans of the original series.  Otherwise, you’re fine just keeping this on an RA list.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Melissa McCleary, Pembroke Public Library, Pembroke, MA

Date of reviewJuly 5, 2020

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