Animorphs #2: The Visitor based on the novel by K.A. Applegate & Michael Grant, adapted by Chris Grine. Graphix, Scholastic Press, 2021. 9781338538397
Format: Uncorrected proof, graphic novel
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
Genre: Science fiction
What did you like about the book? The Animorphs are back for another alien-fighting adventure in the graphic novel adaptation of the popular 1990s sci-fi series. Rachel, Jake, Marco, Cassie, and Tobias agree that they need to find out more about Visser 3’s plans for taking over Earth. They know that their assistant principal, Mr. Chapman, now serves as a host for a high-ranking Yeerk, so Rachel volunteers to morph into the Chapman family cat to eavesdrop on Mr. Chapman’s conversations with Visser 3. She has a double motive, as she wants to defeat the Yeerks, but is also worried about Melissa, her friend and Mr. Chapman’s daughter. And as Rachel learns more about the aliens’ intentions, she only becomes more resolved to use her powers to defeat them.
Character development is as interesting as the action and conflict between the Animorphs and the aliens. Readers will be taken with the friendship dynamic among the teens (including the relationship between Rachel and Melissa), and astonished to witness Mr. Chapman as he tries to assert his human self against the alien in his brain. The insight into animal behavior is fascinating as well; each time one of the kids transforms, their senses shift. This introduces a yuck factor as well – as when Rachel becomes a shrew and craves maggots. The storyline remains true to the original, and the classic comic book style lends itself perfectly to the series. Fans will finish this quickly and look forward to the next Encounter.
Anything you did not like about the book? The speech bubbles are a little tricky to follow at times; when the kids are in animal form (which Tobias is at all times) they communicate with each other through thought speech and it is hard to tell who is who. I believe they are color-coded in the final version (most of this ARC is black and white) but I’m not sure that will help.
To whom would you recommend this book? Science fiction is hard to come by for middle grade readers, so this will have broad appeal. Any fans of the original fiction series, as well as comic book sets like Amulet, will definitely want to check it out as well.
Who should buy this book? Public, elementary and middle school libraries
Where would you shelve it? Graphic novels
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.
Date of review: September 9, 2021