|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "Look, if we lose this battle it's over, you understand me?! If we lose it's over. This is the battle. This is the last stand. [...] So, you don't like me telling you what to do, you don't like your job, you don't like me, period? I don't really care. Before this night is over the casualties will be piled high and some of you standing here right now will be dead and I don't care because we are going to win. Is that clear? We're taking that Pool ship and before this night is over we'll have Visser One right here."
- ―Jake to James and the other Animorphs
The Answer, published in April 2001 and written by K.A. Applegate, is the fifty-third and penultimate book in the Animorphs series. It is the sixteenth book narrated by Jake and the eleventh and final book with Jake as the sole narrator.
The battle is still raging, and it’s out-and-out war. Jake, the other Animorphs, and Ax have found a way to slow the Yeerks down, but now the Yeerks have decided the best way to win is to just destroy everything and everyone who gets in their way.
Just when things look more than hopeless, Jake and the others discover help where they least expected: Taxxons. Creatures so foul and heartless it’s almost hard to believe that they are capable of having any feelings. But Jake and the others soon discover that the Taxxon resistance has its own problems with the Yeerks. And, for once, it looks like Earth may have a chance....
This section needs a rewrite
The ground-based Yeerk pool has been destroyed, and without any source of Kandrona to sustain them, the Yeerks require another source of food - and fast. Tobias, Marco and Jake, in various bird forms, watch helplessly as huge swarms of Bug fighters begin to destroy the Animorphs' hometown with Dracon beams, while a news helicopter films (the Yeerks let the copter film; they want the citizens of Earth to fear them). A squadron of jet fighters attempts to engage the Bug fighters in air combat, but they are quickly neutralized by the Yeerks' superior weaponry.
Initially, Jake believes that the complete and total devastation is a message to the rest of the world; a threat, should anyone try to resist the Yeerk's sudden sledgehammer tactics. However, Marco realizes that both the Animorphs and the Yeerks are way past sending messages. The answer is soon apparent: the Pool ship, the "Mother of all targets", is landing on Earth. Visser One plans to use the Pool ship to sustain his forces until a new Yeerk pool can be completed.
In the free Hork-Bajir valley, the Animorphs and their families have a council of war. If the Pool ship can be destroyed, the Animorphs would almost surely win the war - without a food source, the Yeerks would starve. However, Cassie's, Marco's and Rachel's parent(s) argue that any mission to destroy the Pool ship would be too dangerous, as Visser One would expect an attack - the Pool ship is too valuable a target for the Animorphs to resist. Toby instead suggests capturing the Pool ship, in order to control its weapon systems and free the Hork-Bajir onboard. Jake begins to formulate a plan to infiltrate and capture the Pool ship.
Jake orders three things. First, he orders Marco to establish contact with the Chee (the King house has been destroyed by Bug fighters, but the underground complex has been left undamaged). Secondly, he orders Tobias on a reconnaissance mission, to determine the origin of a pillar of smoke the three saw earlier in the city. Finally, he reveals that his plan requires a large-scale human military force as a diversion. Jake makes no effort to conceal the fact that the human soldiers' diversionary mission will be suicidal, as the Pool ship can simply lift off the ground and fire at the soldiers from orbit with its massive Dracon cannon; however, a diversion is necessary in order to mask the fact that the Animorphs are already on board the ship.
The pillar of smoke, as it turns out, is due to a new Yeerk pool that is being hastily constructed. Visser One wants the new pool functional as soon as possible, so he can fly the Pool ship back into the safety of orbit, out of the Animorphs' reach.
Jake infiltrates a military base (Alien Task Force One) to establish contact with General Doubleday, who is in charge of all military forces in the area. After being captured three times by the General's men (who believe him to be an alien), Jake tells the general that his men must be kept under lockdown for three days in order to determine who is a Controller and who isn't. After Visser One's forces attack the base, the General agrees; however, this means a three-day delay before Jake's plan can be put into action. Jake realizes that the construction on the new Yeerk pool must be halted for the time being; if a new pool is made functional, Visser One will fly the Pool ship into orbit, out of the Animorphs' reach.
It is Cassie who, uncharacteristically, suggests killing Taxxons (the "digging equipment") as a means of halting construction. The others agree, and that night the Animorphs and the Auxiliary Animorphs attack the unfinished Yeerk pool, killing a slew of Taxxons. Jake, however, is captured by a split faction of Taxxons (led by Arbron) who want the morphing cube. The Taxxons cannot endure living with their excruciating hunger any longer, and they see that the only way out is to permanently morph to something else. However, because Visser One would never allow a Taxxon to morph, the only way that this would be possible is if the Animorphs, rather than the Yeerks, are victorious. The Taxxons, in short, want to defect.
Jake returns to the camp, and tells the Animorphs and their families what has happened. Unfortunately, Ax informs the group that the Andalite High Command, instead of coming to Earth's rescue, has arrived to destroy Earth from orbit in order to neutralize the Yeerk threat once and for all, caring little for humankind's extinction. Jake realizes that he needs to achieve a victory very quickly, to prevent this from happening.
Jake returns to Arbron's Taxxons, telling them that he approves of the deal they suggested, and morphs to Anaconda to show them the possibilities that Earth species hold. Suddenly, Tom also arrives, unarmed and alone. Tom's Yeerk reveals that he, too, wants to fight against the Yeerk Empire, but his motivations are far from noble; he wants a hundred of his chosen people, the morphing cube, and the Blade ship, to make war on other species. Tom also says that he wants Visser One dead, as the visser never properly compensated him for "carrying" him for the last three years. Tom's Yeerk tells Jake that, in return for his help, he can offer Jake Tom's and Jake's parents' freedom, as well as the codes necessary for cracking the Pool ship's weapons systems. Tom also has a plan to get the Animorphs into the Pool ship right underneath Visser One's non-existent nose. Jake agrees, albeit reluctantly, as his gut tells him that Tom is lying, in part. Cassie has problems with making deals with Tom, as she sees the immorality of letting such a powerful warlord escape with the morphing cube and the Blade ship to make war on some other helpless species.
Later, Jake runs through Tom's story again and again, trying to figure out what is bothering him about it. Suddenly, he realizes: Visser One is not the only one to blame for Tom's Yeerk's frustration. The Animorphs, in frustrating Visser One, have doomed Tom's Yeerk to a low rank. That is why Tom needed no assurance from the Animorphs that they would make good on their part of the deal: he expects them to be dead. Jake sees that Tom intends to betray them, and begins altering his plan to use him. Unfortunately, without Tom's codes, the Animorphs need another way to capture or disable the Pool ship.
Marco was successful in establishing contact with the Chee, and he brings Erek back to the valley to meet the Animorphs. Jake reveals that he needs Erek's direct participation and presence onboard the Pool ship; Erek tells Jake that his programming can't allow him to do that. Jake has anticipated this, and brings out his hostage: a very unhappy Chapman. Jake tells Erek that if he will not help, Jake will kill Chapman; this manipulates Erek's programming, forcing him to help them. Erek is enraged at Jake, who also gives Rachel orders that he keeps secret from the rest of the group.
The Animorphs pretend to go along with Tom's plan, and Erek disguises himself as Cassie. Tom beats up "Cassie" to make her capture seem legitimate; however, he thinks that Erek is the real Cassie. The Animorphs, except for Tobias, hide underneath Erek's force fields, in very small morphs.
As Toby's free Hork-Bajir mix in with Hork-Bajir-Controllers, Tom brings "Cassie" to Visser One, and a Taxxon arrives to inform Visser One of the imminent Taxxon betrayal; Arbron's Taxxons plan to destroy the unfinished Yeerk pool while the military, along with the Auxiliary Animorphs, attack the ship from the ground. However, the visser, unsure that an Animorph could be captured so easily, suspects a trick. Tom, who believes that the Animorphs are hiding on "Cassie", orders the Taxxon to eat Erek, and the Taxxon complies without hesitation.
The Taxxon, however, is Tobias in morph, and the rest of the Animorphs have already jumped off Erek's body. Tobias gorges on an illusion, and Erek's holograms throw up the appearance of Cassie being eaten alive. Visser One and Tom buy it, and Tom suggests that he take temporary control of the Blade ship to destroy the Taxxons. Visser One agrees, unsuspecting that Tom will use the Blade ship against him. As Tom leaves, Rachel's private thought-speak to Jake fades.
The final battle begins. Human forces appear and begin firing at the Pool ship, with little effect. The Auxiliary Animorphs are with them, to trick Visser One into thinking that the Animorphs are on the ground, and not on the ship. Jake stays on the bridge with Visser One, who orders that the Pool ship lift off the ground and use its Dracon cannon to kill the human forces on the ground. Meanwhile, Ax, Erek, Marco and Cassie work on cracking the Pool ship's codes to take control of it. Visser One uses minimal dispersion to systematically kill the Auxiliary Animorphs one by one. After he kills all the Auxiliary Animorphs, he orders wide dispersion to kill the human soldiers all at once. However, just as the military is about to suffer total casualties, the bridge loses control of the engines; the rest of the Animorphs have cracked the codes to the engines. Visser One realizes that free Hork-Bajir are onboard, and brings a detachment of Controllers to engineering to kill them. Jake meets up with the Animorphs, who escape the battle that ensues as Toby's Hork-Bajir fight Visser One and his Controllers.
The Animorphs, sans Rachel, realize that the Blade ship will now attack the Pool ship, either destroying it or disabling it completely. The Animorphs have no access to the Pool ship's weapons, however, because the Controllers on the bridge will only take orders from Visser One, who is in engineering. When the others press Jake to tell them where Rachel is, he finally reveals his orders: he has sent Rachel to kill Tom on board the Blade ship.
The Animorphs demorph and assume their battle morphs, intending to create as much damage as possible; once Visser One hears that they are onboard, he will rush back to the bridge to head them off, where they can use him to attack the Blade ship. The Animorphs, however, encounter too little resistance. They head directly for the onboard Pool ship, and Jake gives the orders to flush it, killing 17,372 unhosted, defenseless Yeerks. This act, later described by Jake himself as a war crime, will haunt the leader of the Animorphs for many years to come.
Needless to say, the visser hears about this, and returns to the bridge at full speed. When the Animorphs arrive at the bridge, they find the visser defeated, as he now sees the full extent of his defeat. He realizes that Tom has betrayed him and intends to kill him using the Blade ship. That fact, combined with the murder of seventeen thousand of his Yeerk brethren, causes the visser to suffer total psychological defeat. The Animorphs tell Visser One to attack the Blade ship with Dracon beams, but Visser One informs them that someone is draining power from the ship's weapon systems. That person turns out to be Erek, who flat out cannot enable a major weapons system because of his programming. The Blade ship opens fire on the Pool ship, destroying its engines.
However, the Pool ship can still get out one or two quick shots, but the more agile Blade ship easily dodges both, aided by the fact that the Pool ship no longer has propulsion. Tom opens communications with the Pool ship, and Visser One tells Tom that the Empire will track him down and kill him for his treachery. Tom reveals that he has lied to Visser One more than he knows; the Andalite fleet is already bearing down on Earth, and will be ready to completely destroy Yeerk forces. Tom soon sees Jake in tiger morph and realizes that the Animorphs are still alive. He orders his crew to target the Pool ship's bridge to kill them, but he doesn't know that Rachel is on board the Blade ship itself. Before Tom can destroy the Pool ship's bridge, Jake orders Rachel to attack.
- Eva (Final Appearance)
- James (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Erek King
- Toby Hamee
- Arbron (Final Appearance)
- Visser One
- Tom Berenson / Tom's Yeerk
- Various Taxxon, Hork-Bajir and human-Controllers
- Edriss 562 (Mentioned Only)
- Crayak (Mentioned Only)
- Howlers (Mentioned Only)
- General Sam Doubleday (First Appearance)
- Mountain Taxxons (Final Appearance)
- Collette (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Timmy (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Kelly (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Craig (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Erica (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Julio (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Liam (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Ray (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Tricia (Final Appearance) (Death)
- Hedrick Chapman (Final Appearance)
- Peter (Final Appearance)
- Michelle (Final Appearance)
- Walter (Final Appearance)
- Loren (Final Appearance)
- Steve Berenson (Mentioned Only)
- Jean Berenson (Mentioned Only)
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul (Mentioned Only)
- Alloran-Semitur-Corrass (Mentioned Only)
- Pemalites (Mentioned Only)
- Hork-Bajir Valley (Final Appearance)
- The Gardens (Final Appearance)
- Blade ship
- Pool ship
- Abandoned Construction Site (Mentioned Only)
- Andalite homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- Taxxon homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- Hork-Bajir homeworld (Mentioned Only)
- Underground Chee Park (Mentioned Only)
- Amazon Rainforest (Mentioned Only)
- Air National Guard F-16 fighter jets (Final Appearance)
- Blade ship
- Pool ship
- Dracon beams
- Dracon assault cannon
- Escafil Device (Mentioned Only)
- Z-space transponder (Mentioned Only)
- Gleet Bio-Filter (Mentioned Only)
- Jakes reveals that his full name is Jake Berenson and that the Animorphs are now sixteen years old, adding that they began fighting the Yeerks three years ago at the age of thirteen.
- Tom's Yeerk has been promoted to security chief for Yeerk forces on Earth.
- Following the destruction of the Yeerk pool, the Yeerks have brought the Pool ship down from orbit in order to feed the Yeerks on Earth. In order to protect the Pool ship, Bug fighters destroy various buildings to create a dust barrier and shoot down military jets attempting to stop them, with the footage being shot by a news helicopter, the nation and the world now well aware of the Yeerk invasion.
- The Yeerks now refer to the group as "Animorphs" rather than "rebels" or "Andalite bandits."
- The Yeerks have begun digging a new lake to create a new Yeerk pool, with Cassie suggesting that the Animorphs kill the Taxxons to halt construction. During the attack, Jake is captured by Mountain Taxxons, led by an Andalite nothlit named Arbron. Arbron explains that Visser One has refused to grant any Taxxon the morphing power, which would allow the Taxxons the ability to escape their never-ending hunger. Arbron offers the aid of 1,709 Taxxons, who would help the Animorphs defeat the Yeerk Empire, in exchange for Jake procuring a morphing cube from the Andalites and allowing the Taxxons to become nothlits.
- Jake asks Cassie to marry him, although she suggests that he ask her again a year after the war ends, unsure of whether Jake can live a normal life post-war, should they survive.
- While meeting with Arbron, Jake is approached by Tom's Yeerk, who wishes to work with the Animorphs to defeat Visser One, whom he feels vengeful towards for refusing to promote him. Tom's Yeerk explains that he wishes to defect from the Empire and aims to acquire the Blade ship and flee to another planet with the morphing cube and a handful of his followers, and in exchange for safe passage out of the system, will arrange for the Animorphs to infiltrate the Pool ship, which the Animorphs have been conspiring to steal. However, Jake is aware that Tom's Yeerk is planning to betray them, and concocts a countermeasure.
- Jake enlists the cooperation of Erek King by threatening to kill Hedrick Chapman, whom he had Ax and Cassie kidnap, along with other casualties he is ready to kill if Erek refuses. Erek then poses as Cassie and allows himself to be captured, with Tom bringing "Cassie" on board the Pool ship, believing the other Animorphs are hiding on her body in insect morph. Once inside the Pool ship, Tom's Yeerk and Visser One arrange for a Taxxon to eat Cassie; however, the Taxxon is none other than Tobias in morph, with Marco, Cassie and Ax hiding as fleas on Tobias. Rachel, however, is on Tom's body in flea morph at Jake's request.
- The other Animorphs wonder where Rachel is, and Jake reveals that she is on the Blade ship, as he has ordered her to kill Tom and his Yeerk. Tobias becomes enraged at Jake for sending her on a suicide mission, and asks Jake to save her.
- Jake forces James to rally every Auxiliary Animorph, who are hesitant to fight after one of them was killed in combat, to join U.S. Army Major Sam Doubleday's troops on the ground as a diversion to mask the fact that the Animorphs are on board the Pool ship. James complies, and he, along with the rest of the Auxiliary Animorphs, are murdered by the Pool ship's Dracon assault cannon at Visser One's request, with Jake watching helplessly.
- While in the ship's central pool, Ax, with Jake's approval, flushes 17,372 unhosted Yeerks into space, instantly killing them.
- Tom, now controlling the Blade ship, discovers that the Animorphs are still alive and have successfully hijacked the Pool ship. He heads towards the Pool ship in order to destroy it and murder both Visser One and the Animorphs, who are unable to defend themselves since Erek disabled the Pool ship's weapon systems due to his programming. Jake then tells Rachel to initiate her mission to kill Tom and his Yeerk.
- Jake and the Animorphs are revealed be aware that the Yeerks first came to Earth during the Gulf War, having been notified at some time by Eva.
|Morpher||Morphs Acquired||Morphs Used|
|Jake||Anaconda||Peregrine Falcon, Dragonfly, Siberian Tiger, Brown Bat, Anaconda, Housefly|
|Rachel||Dragonfly, Human (U.S. Army Soldier)||Bald Eagle, Dragonfly, Human (U.S. Army Soldier), Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee), Grizzly Bear, Brown Bat, African Elephant, Flea|
|Tobias||Dragonfly||Dragonfly, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), Brown Bat, Taxxon|
|Cassie||Dragonfly||Osprey, Dragonfly, Wolf, Brown Bat, Flea|
|Marco||Dragonfly||Osprey, Dragonfly, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim), Brown Bat, Cheetah, Flea|
|Ax||Dragonfly, Human (U.S. Army Soldier)||Northern Harrier, Dragonfly, Human (U.S. Army Soldier), Brown Bat, Flea|
|Tom's Yeerk||Jaguar (through Tom's body), Human (Tom Berenson; through its own body)||--|
|James||Dragonfly||Peregrine Falcon, Dragonfly, Lion*|
|Unnamed Auxiliary Animorph||--||Lioness|
- All seventeen of the Auxiliary Animorphs participated in the final battle and thus were all in their combat morphs; additionally, James' group used their bird morphs to arrive at the Hork-Bajir valley.
- The cover quote is "All questions are about to be answered...".
- The inside cover quote is "An even trade...?"
- This marks the twenty-third and twenty-fourth time that an Animorph has acquired a human morph, as well as the final instance, with Ax having acquired twelve humans by this point, not counting Ax's acquisition of a random human in the alternate timeline presented in Back to Before.
- French books resume publication with this book, after skipping books #47-52.
- ANIBASE: This book marks the return of a classic Animorphs character: Arbron, who we first met in The Andalite Chronicles. The idea for having Arbron return originally come about when K.A. Applegate was asked to do a Taxxon Chronicles but was stuck for what the story could be about. She realized that Arbron's struggles in leading a Taxxon resistance would make a great book – but, unfortunately, the Taxxon Chronicles never came to be. To keep the legacy of Arbron alive, however, K.A. brought him to Earth in this book, and it was with his help that the Animorphs figured out a way to beat the Yeerks once and for all.
- Jake refers to Edriss 562 as a male on p11, despite the fact that Edriss identified as a female.
- Jake states that the Yeerks have been slowly infiltrating Earth for over a decade, having first discovered the planet during the Gulf War. This book takes place in 1999, with Edriss 562 first having discovered Earth, on behalf of the Yeerk Empire, in 1991; despite that, the invasion did not begin until about two years prior to the start of the series, circa 1995, which was only four years prior to the events of this book.
- Rachel, in Hork-Bajir morph, poses as a Hork-Bajir-Controller on p35 and uses thought-speak to ask the other Controllers to cease firing. This should indicate to the Yeerks that the 'Hork-Bajir' they are conversing with is a morph, as Hork-Bajir do not have thought-speak capabilities.
- Marco tells Jake that Doubleday is a three-star general, which in the United States Army is a lieutenant general. However, Doubleday himself later says that he is a major general, which is a two-star rank.
- Jake orders Ax to demorph first on p49, citing that the other Animorphs would have to remorph unlike him. However, on p51, Tobias is not in morph, using his red-tailed hawk form to fight the Taxxons.
- The other Animorphs, minus Tobias, are hiding on Jake's normal body in flea morph on chapter 13, and are able to have a conversation with him, with Marco noticing the car keys in the ignition. However, multiple previous books in the series have established that the Animorphs cannot hear verbal conversation while in flea morph; additionally, they are nearly blind, meaning that Marco in flea morph would not be able to notice car keys in the dark.