Book #3 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 #3
by K.A. Applegate

Summarized Plot: Tobias used to be a human boy who knew nothing of morphing, aliens, or war. Now, he has been exposed to all three, and as a result of morphing into a hawk and staying longer than the two-hour limit, he is permanently trapped as a hawk with a boy's mind, and is learning to sort out what it means to be what he is. Now, Tobias and his friends the Animorphs have discovered a Yeerk ship that resupplies their ships in orbit, and come up with a plan to reveal its existence to the world. Throughout the ordeal, Tobias learns things that help him adjust to what he's become.

Detailed Plot: Tobias reflects on what it's like to live as a human in a bird's body. He mentions that he's already forgetting certain things about himself when he was human, as if that person doesn't exist any more. He and Rachel are on their way to free a caged hawk that's being used as a prop by a jerky car salesman. Rachel provides a distraction with her elephant morph and begins stomping on cars, while Tobias frees the female hawk and suppresses an urge to fly after her. Of course, their fellow Animorphs, who see the scene on TV since they were filming a commercial, think this was a bad move. Maybe regular people will just think it's a bizarre circus act, but Controllers will know exactly what the random appearance of wild animals acting in un-animal-like ways means.

On the way to their meeting, Tobias notices something strange in the sky. He can't really see it (except for sort of a ripple), but he could feel its effects, it was obviously some kind of cloaked craft. For some reason he decides not to mention it to the others, though. After having a meeting during which Rachel and Tobias get reamed (and eventually forgiven) for doing such dangerous things on television, everyone leaves. The next day Tobias goes back to where the mysterious warp had attracted his attention. He ruminates a while on how he is different from hawks; so far, he has ignored his urge to hunt like a hawk, and has consented to eat food that Jake puts out for him.

Tobias witnesses a flock of geese flying into an object that apparently isn't there. They just hit an invisible object and go skittering across its surface, though it doesn't look like anything is hitting them. Tobias decides that must be a Yeerk ship, cloaked. In a meeting to decide what to do about it, the Animorphs break up fighting among themselves. Marco reiterates that it's not their job to get killed over people they don't even know, and Cassie, while agreeing with him that they can't keep getting lucky, reminds them that they can't do nothing when they're the only people with some sort of power to fight. Rachel gets upset and tells Marco that if he wants to be out, he can have it his way, and Marco throws it in her face that she's not just in it for the noble cause; she gets off on the danger. Finally they calm down and decide to check out the mountains, where the ship apparently visits. Marco points out that they need to do it after school so that the Yeerks don't realize they've all skipped school coincidentally at the same time the "Andalite bandits" show up.

Because it would be ultra-suspicious to use their bird morphs to all fly to the site together (being that a bald eagle, two ospreys, a hawk, and a falcon don't generally fly as one flock), the Animorphs decide to morph into wolves and run through the forest. And because two male wolves might fight for dominance, a coin toss settles that Jake will be the male wolf and all the others, including Marco, will be females. (They acquire the morphs from the injured wolf couple at Cassie's Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic.) Cassie, being the best morpher, does the morph first and controls the wolf's attack instincts fairly quickly, giving the okay for the others to go.

They quickly find out that they are able to cover a lot of ground in a little time, because wolves can move almost constantly. Except for Jake, as the dominant male, stopping often to mark his territory, they make a tireless trek to the mountains. Tobias functions as their lookout. Soon, he spots a group of Park Rangers--or rather, Park Rangers in disguise--surrounding some innocent campers and making them take off in a hurry, apparently to chase them away from whatever they were too close to. And far away, Tobias spots helicopters letting out a load of Hork-Bajir, the alien Controllers that the Yeerks use as shock troops. Definitely confirmed Yeerk activity here.

Tobias swings back to warn the others, and swoops down to meet with his wolf friends. But he mistakes a real wolf pack for his morphed buddies, and almost gets eaten by the alpha male. Finally he finds the other Animorphs and informs them that apparently these Yeerks are getting ready for the arrival of the invisible ship, which is probably making a beeline for the lake. The wolf pack sneaks up on the Controllers, acting as wolves would, and they all witness the uncloaking and landing of a huge Yeerk ship.

While observing the ship's actions, they realize that it's just stealing water from the lake, sucking it right up inside. They postulate that they're probably just refreshing their supplies for the ships in orbit.

The Animorphs decide to bail, having learned what the Yeerks are up to. Tobias, riding on a warm updraft, ends up spotting the female hawk he set free from the car dealer, and he feels comfortable just meeting up with her. Then he recoils, upset that he felt so at home, as if the hawk is his identity rather than the human. He reminds himself that he should never forget that he is human. And then he spots danger in front of his friends. They've encountered that other wolf pack.

Jake and the wolf pack's alpha male face off, neither wanting to back down. Cassie explains to Tobias (when he's shrieking about them being idiots) that if Jake just surrenders, the alpha male may attack them. The real wolves are mad because they think Jake's pack wants the rabbit they killed, and in order to neutralize the situation, Tobias risks his life to swoop in and grab the dead rabbit, which makes the real wolf male chase him. This snaps the Animorphs out of their battle, and they race for a place to demorph. Tobias sights a clock and realizes they have missed their deadline!

Tobias freaks out and screams to his friends to return to human form, which they do as fast as they can, but except for Cassie, they get stuck halfway. With some panicked encouragement from Cassie, they all somehow make it back to human, though they were very close to being trapped not as wolves, but as half-human freaks. As they exult over being human, doing happy-dances, Tobias gets depressed and flies off, severely upset that he will never do that happy-dance.

Jake has made a home for Tobias in his attic, with food scraps and a nice soft bed in a drawer. He realizes when he returns there that this isn't what he wants. He's not comfortable in soft blankets or eating food that isn't live prey. He isn't comfortable denying his hawk instincts in order to remain some semblance of human. Disturbed, he flies off to visit Rachel. She lets him in, and he confesses to her that he thinks he's losing himself. She assures him that the Andalites will come and they might have a way of restoring him to his real body, but he knows she is just saying that to make him feel better.

At the next Animorphs meeting, they hatch a plan to somehow uncloak the Yeerk ship, so that it will show up on radar and be visible to the town, and then maybe people will be unable to ignore that something is happening. They have to wait for a weekend, so the human Animorphs go off to waste time at the mall, do homework, or whatever, while Tobias is left on his own. He begins thinking of the good things about being a hawk, like the fact that he can just fly into concerts if he wants to, no admission and a great view. He sets off to go spy on the mountain area, to get more information for his friends. He gets into enjoying his flying, trying to stay on the bright side, and he relaxes. Then he catches himself off-guard, being hungry, and dives and kills a rat for lunch, and enjoys it immensely, before he realizes what he's doing. It kind of wrecks his mood.

Tobias feels like he's trapped in a nightmare and ends up looking for Rachel, and trying to slam himself into the doors of the mall to end it all. Instead he ends up inside, flying through the mall, and comes upon Rachel doing her gymnastics exhibit. He freaks out and tells her he's lost, and though she tries to reassure him there is no consoling him this time. He surrenders to the hawk brain that's trying to tell him to get to the sky, and he flies up at the skylight even though the human part of him knows he'll hit it and hurt or kill himself. But he's saved from that fate when Marco hits the skylight with a baseball and frees him. He admits to himself, finally, that the Tobias he was no longer exists.

He spends the next few days just letting himself be a hawk, with no contact with the other Animorphs. He makes himself a territory, hunts in the daytime, tries to bury his memories at night. One day he decides to go visit that cute female hawk, and ends up near that familiar lake once again. He watches her hunt, but then is distracted by another chase going on in the woods. The human part of him recognizes the fact that a human is being chased by a Hork-Bajir down there. The human is calling for help. And suddenly his identity flips over again. He can't let the human become prey. He decides to help.

Tobias thought-speaks to the human and leads him away from his pursuers. He warns the human not to speak of the Hork-Bajir or anything that happened, because the Yeerks will search him out and destroy him. Tobias is a bit awakened by the experience and goes to see Rachel again, for the first time since the freaking out in the mall. She welcomes him and is at first grateful that he's not dead, then angry that he scared them so much when he disappeared. When Tobias expresses grief that he's become a predator, Rachel assures him that there's a difference between killing to eat and killing to dominate (like the Yeerks). He feels a little better, and states that even though he is trapped, perhaps he can make his quest to free others.

On Saturday, the Animorphs use their wolf morphs to get to a cave in the woods near the Yeerks' territory, and use the cave as a hideout to morph and store their clothes. Then they spend half a day trying to catch a fish so they can acquire it and morph into it to get into the Yeerks' water pipes. Finally, they catch a trout. They all acquire it and don't have time to test it before they have to put it into action.

Tobias notices the female hawk again, and is distracted by her, but finally notices that helicopters are coming. They are probably going to see his friends, so he distracts them by flying in front of the 'copter. The bad guys don't spot the Animorphs scurrying into their cave, luckily. But then Tobias notices that the supply ship is being followed by Visser Three's Blade ship, and Controllers are killing random animals in case they are "Andalite bandits." Tobias insists that the plan is now way too dangerous, with the way the Hork-Bajir and Taxxons and Human-Controllers are on such a strict watch. But Jake and Rachel REALLY want to do it, and Cassie suggests they morph the fish out of water while in the cave, and have Tobias drop them into the lake. It's risky, but they decide to try it. Cassie goes first, and the others follow suit. But when Rachel's just finished her fish morph, a Hork-Bajir and a human discover the cave.

Tobias grabs Rachel and hightails it out of there. The Hork-Bajir tries to shoot them with a Dracon beam, but hits their own ship instead. Though it does not do any real damage, they lose their focus arguing and panicking about who Visser Three is going to eat over the mistake. The trout-Animorphs make it into the intake pipe and board the ship. Tobias just flies around waiting, and overhears the Visser punishing the Hork-Bajir for firing a weapon, and they put two and two together and realize a bird has been acting suspiciously in several Yeerk missions. The Visser sends his troops off looking for Tobias. The only way he can avoid getting shot is by perching on the ship itself, where they can't fire.

Visser Three speaks to Tobias and taunts him, saying a real bird would have flown away so he knows what he is. Tobias doesn't answer, so as not to give himself away (possibly) as a human, but then he hears a message from his friends inside the ship. As trout, they were waiting for the water level to be high enough to undo a grate and get out onto the ship, but the grate won't open, so they're trapped. Rachel reports this to Tobias and insists that they don't want to be taken alive, and wonders if there's anything he can do to just destroy them all. All this while he's already being hunted himself, with Dracon beams trained on him waiting for the moment he takes off. But Tobias reaffirms his existence as a predator, and decides he is going to fight back.

Visser Three sends Taxxons onto the surface of the ship to take Tobias out. Tobias attacks a Taxxon's eyes, and when it shields itself, he takes the Taxxon's Dracon. He means to blow up the ship even if it destroys his friends. He finds the transparent glass of the control booth and uses the Dracon to blast up the controls, which makes the ship fry even as it takes off. A crack develops and the water starts gushing out. The Animorphs, in human form, begin falling out, seven hundred feet up. As they fall, they use their bird morphs and manage to escape into the forest.

The ship blows up and sends hundreds of birds and animals in the forest scattering. Visser Three's followers shoot whatever they can, and Tobias clearly sees his female hawk friend get her wing fried off and fall.

The Animorphs haven't exactly won that fight, as they had no evidence to show to the world, but at least they messed up an important Yeerk transport vehicle, took out some enemies, and shook up Visser Three in the process.

As an epilogue, Tobias visits Rachel and she suggests maybe they should find the female hawk's body and bury it. Tobias says no, the forest creatures will eat her and that's the way it is. He's accepted that he is both human and hawk, having realized as he grieved over the hawk's loss that sadness is a human emotion he still holds onto. He's finally willing to come to terms with what he is.

About this book:

Narrator: Tobias

New known controllers:


New morphs acquired:

  • Jake: Wolf, trout
  • Cassie: Wolf, trout
  • Marco: Wolf, trout
  • Rachel: Wolf, trout


  • We learn early on in this book that Tobias's family is very broken. He's been shuttled back and forth between an aunt and an uncle who don't want him, both of which have been notified that he is with the other, which is why not much of a stir has been made about his disappearance into a hawk's body. It's a good incentive for him to fight as hard as he does; he has less to lose.
  • Here in the third book, Marco is already accusing Rachel of being happy about fighting in the war. It's scary how early she embraced it, and how fully she embraces it later in the series.
  • While in wolf morph, Cassie smells bacon on Rachel and points out that she is surprised because she thought Rachel was going vegetarian. That's never mentioned again, but it seems a bit uncharacteristic of Rachel to not eat meat.
  • Jake gets a little cagey when Tobias starts doubting the plan they've made up. Even though he always insists he's not really in charge, he doesn't seem to like being challenged either.
  • In this book, Marco is said to have acquired an eagle morph "previously." Before this book, the only bird morph he was shown to have was an osprey. He must have acquired it at a time unspecified, if in fact he has the morph at all and it wasn't just a mistake.
  • At one point we overhear a Hork-Bajir-Controller and a Human-Controller having a discussion about their stolen bodies. The Human-Controller seems jealous of the fact that his Yeerk buddy has a Hork-Bajir body that can see well in the dark and is more powerful. That leads us to believe there's some kind of body assigning based on status.
  • Marco throws a baseball to help Tobias get out a skylight without hurting himself. It's plausible that he could make such a shot, but . . . why did he have a baseball? Sure he was in the mall and could have been next to a sports store that had a baseball sitting around not in a package, but that coincidence combined with turning right around and making the shot seems unlikely.
  • While Rachel and Tobias are exchanging thought-speak, both thinking they're going to die, Tobias says, "I never told you . . . " and Rachel says, "I already knew." Since obviously they did live through that episode, they know quite well what their feelings are for each other. Ironically, Marco, the one the girls seem to think is so cute, is the only "partnerless" Animorph.

Best lines:

Jake: "Instead of being home doing math homework, you get to turn into a wolf. Are you telling me you'd rather be doing equations?"
Marco: "Let's see. Math? Or becoming a wolf and going off to find aliens? Maybe I should ask the school counselor what she thinks. It's such a common problem. I'm sure she'd have some good advice."

Marco: "Hey, when I morphed into a gorilla, I handled that gorilla brain okay, didn't I?"
Rachel: "Sure, Marco. But that was different. You and the gorilla were already so much alike."

Jake: "Remember, just act like wolves."
Marco: "Yeah, so if anyone sees the Three Little Pigs, don't forget to huff and puff."

Tobias: "Are you guys seeing this? It looks like it's going to land on the lake."
Marco: "Are we seeing it? No. We've totally missed the fact that a spaceship the size of Delaware is hovering in midair."

Tobias: I was human. I was a boy named Tobias. A boy with blond hair that was always a mess. A boy with human friends. Human interests. But part of me kept saying, "It's a lie. It's a lie. You are the hawk. The hawk is you. And Tobias is dead."

Jake: "And trust me, Marco, if Rachel sees you at the mall making faces while she's on the balance beam, she will turn into an elephant and stomp you."
Marco: "Remember the good old days when all a girl could do to you is call you names?"

Cassie (having just morphed a trout): "I just keep seeing myself. Fried. With a wedge of lemon and some tartar sauce."

Next book: The Message, Animorphs #4

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