When I was young, my step-grandmother offered to both my sister and me the thoughtful gift of providing books in a series for some of our birthday and holiday gifts. Both of us being fastidious readers, we accepted gladly, and the series I chose, as suggested by Mrs. Dot, was Animorphs. To say that it was love at first sight is sort of an understatement. I can't tell you the extreme emotions that waiting for the next book gave me. It would be all I could think about. I would read and reread the predecessors, looking for any signs of events to come. I would speculate endlessly (by now my sister included Animorphs in her reading repertoire) with my sister about what this and that meant. I remember feeling my chest squeezed when Marco first saw Visser One's host body. I remember the bliss of flying on the thermals (The Kills "Satellite" still gets points for their mention of such for this very reason). I remember the joy of Tobias regaining his ability after almost getting eaten alive by a raccoon. Jack and Cassie's first kiss (after almost dying from a battle with Howlers). I remember Cassie finding a piece of Hork-Bajir in her teeth, and felt with her the pain and self-hatred the constant violence elicited. So many times they almost died, but they kept fighting, because they had to. They were fighting for greater cause. They were fighting to keep their loved ones free, but in the end the series created something deeper than that. With the Chronicles you get to see the battle from various alien species' point of view, so that you come to realize that the Yeerks aren't as evil, and the Andalites aren't as good, as most black and white alien dramas tend to illustrate. This wide, varied picture, from the hilarious Helmacrons to the Pacifist Chee, the Howlers, children of complete evil created to destroy the Chee's creators, the unscrupulous collectors that are the Skrit Na, the cursed Taxxons and completely enslaved Hork-Bajir, (there's more, so, so much more) all rotate around the struggle that stems from their collective past. These species at war have fates interwoven in fashion that would make Frank Herbert proud, and the Animorphs, in all their childish fanaticism, fall into this world with humor and humanity, and sacrifice everything to save us.
It is not unusual for a young adult series to focus on kids saving the world, but what is so amazing about Animorphs is the fact that there are no easy outs. These kids have to make adult decisions. They have to learn tactics and find bravery in the most hopeless situations. They have to make sacrifices, even in the face of losing each other, and by the end they are still not old enough to vote, but in experience they have lost all of their innocence. The themes recall most of the books of my youth, from Michael Crichton novels to the Dune series to Dark is Rising series and Orson Scott Card's Ender books (Ender's Shadow being the first I read, and personally, still the most impactful). The relationships between the main characters are complicated and honest, and you see yourselves in each of them, dealing with the same conflicts and image issues, except that mine usually didn't evolve possible death.
There is horror in those books. Stolen lives, cold-blooded murder, gruesome conflict, and moral corruption. You see them slowly losing their minds as they give more and more of themselves to their mission. You see how reality gets warped for them. You can almost see the development of PTSD within the minds of these teens, and you can understand how it really happens. How the horror adds up. How it slowly changes your thinking and destroys your innocence, to the point where, yes, you can make the right decisions for the fight, but often at the cost of what is right for your soul.
The series starts out playful. You see it as some sort of horrible game at first. They are scared out of their minds but they keep fighting, because slowly but surely their lives become more a part of it, whether they want them to or not.
It is a fitting metaphor for this day and time. We find ourselves not being controlled by aliens and yet still constantly being convinced to make decisions that are slowly taking the very life from us and our world. We are losing touch with our empathy, with our communities, and replacing them with our own worlds. In a creative sense, it is not so bad, except for what the corrupt can do with that distraction. Within Animorphs is an age-old lesson of moral responsibility. Even when issues do not touch us closely, do we still have the responsibility to make the world a better place? Is it always our fight? How should we react? Violently or with words? How much do we have to sacrifice before it is enough? How much should we sacrifice for those that don't care? How much is our life worth, as compared to all of the world around around us? Is Humanity really worth the fight?
The world needs Animorphs more than ever, and now is the time. Personally, I think Guillermo del Toro is the man for the job. He has the literary sensitivity and visual style that would fit the series well. I have thought of many possibilities, from Grant Heslov to Rob Zombie to J.J. Abrams (though I'm pretty sure he's got enough on his plate right now). Robert Rodriguez already did a psuedo version with The Faculty and James Cameron displayed a visual portfolio with Avatar. Many of the fans want an animated series, and that is a serious possibility, especially with the visually enriched Chronicles and Megamorphs, but I feel that live-action, done right, (no offense, Nickelodeon, but really, bouncy eye-stalks?) would have the most impact. It would be incredible to see. And I would, over and over and over. So come on. Join Us. Make Animorphs Into a Movie.