Rachel in Animorphs One Through Thirteen

Spoiler filled thoughts about the first 13 Animorphs books plus Megamorphs book 1 regarding Rachel, focusing on "The Visitor" (02), "The Stranger" (07), "The Andalite's Gift" (M1) and "The Reaction" (12).

CW for body horror, death, divorce, amnesia, possesion/infestation, catcalling, attempted kidnapping.

A girl (Rachel) turns into a catIn book 2, "The Visitor", Rachel goes through the normal teen experience of realizing that she's grown apart from someone who was previously a close friend, but it has the extra dimension that the only reason she realized it is that she needs to get information on the friend's father who is a controller. This means that even though she wants to try and be better friends with Melissa, it's tainted and she feels guilty about otherwise friendly actions.

I came here to talk about the thing with Melissa, I really did, but while skimming the book for this spoiler-filled discussion I found something else. When Rachel is walking home after school she gets followed by a high school or college-age guy in a car who catcalls her and gets out of his car trying to make her get in. She's a middle-schooler, which means someone who is 4+ years older than her tried to kidnap her. She used morphing to freak him out and get away, and then gets chewed out by Marco for morphing. It doesn't come up after this, and it's treated like she shouldn't have been walking home alone and then maybe shouldn't have morphed. The way it's handled I think points towards the author showing the level of constant fear that is real for young girls, and Rachel just happens to be able to defend herself better than most. It's part of a general trend of the Animorphs having to deal with mundane things as well as alien ones, but still, its a very scary scene.

A girl (Rachel) turns into a grizzly bearIn book 7, "The Stranger", Rachel is given the option to move out of state to live with her dad, and the Ellimist offers the Animorphs to move off-planet to somewhere safe. She's being asked to make these huge decisions and is freaked out by the weight of them. As someone who's been a kid in a divorce, I really appreciate this storyline for Rachel because it was made me feel seen, like this was something that other people went through and were okay afterwards. A lot of media about divorce focuses on how the parents feel, and even though Rachel is much more than a kid with divorced parents, she is also one, and that was really comforting/helpful for me at the time I was first reading this series.

Portraits of four Animorphs as half human half animal plus Tobias as a hawkIn Megamorphs 1, "The Andalite's Gift", Rachel ends up with another stranger-danger kind of storyline because she tells a camp that she's not coming, changes her mind and starts to go anyway, then gets hurt by an alien (and loses her memory temporarily) when her destination isn't expecting her and everyone at home thinks she'll be gone for days. As an adult I'm appreciating the messaging in a kids book of "make sure people know where you're going to be in case something happens". You're not going to be attacked by aliens, but it's a good warning.

A girl (Rachel) turns into a crocodileBook 12, "The Reaction", is about Rachel trying to ignore a problem and hoping it'll go away. She lies to the other Animorphs to tell them she's dealt with her morphing allergy, but she hadn't actually, and it almost gets people killed. I don't have a ton on this, but looking at Rachel's stories so far they feel the most like practical PSA's, and this fits that trend.


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