|This article is written from a Real World point of view.|
- "All I know is what my mom said. Two men broke into her veterinary ward last night. It wasn't the usual smash and grab, and no, they weren't after drugs, which surprised Mom, too. They wanted blood samples, specific blood samples. Tiger. Elephant. Eagle. Rhino and grizzly. Gorilla and wolf. [...] Here's what I think. There's only one reason the Yeerks would suddenly be interested in blood. DNA. They're collecting samples of our morph animals, and they're collecting as many human samples as they can. They're searching for humans with strands of animal DNA in their blood."
"Which means —"
"They know we're human."
- ―Cassie, Marco and Rachel
The Diversion, published in December 2000 and written by Lisa Harkrader based on an outline by K.A. Applegate, is the forty-ninth book in the Animorphs series. It is the eleventh book narrated by Tobias and the sixth and final book with Tobias as the sole narrator.
The Yeerks are finally starting to realize that the "Andalite bandits" are probably not aliens at all. They're finally starting to realize that maybe they've been dealing with humans all along. And no one - especially the newly appointed Visser One - is happy with this knowledge. Not happy at all.
When Tobias, the other Animorphs, and Ax realize that the Yeerks are about to find them, it's by accident. But that doesn't make the discovery any less serious. Because in a war, one side wins. And one side loses...
The Yeerks begin to realize the "Andalite bandits" are humans. The Animorphs discover the Yeerks have been testing the DNA patterns in the blood they have left in their countless battles. When they discover the traces of human DNA they begin running massive amounts of tests on blood which has been stored in the area in order to discover a genetic match or root out the Animorphs' families. Using this process a genetic match between Tobias and his mother, Loren, is discovered and gives the Yeerks proof that at least some the 'Andalite bandits' are in fact human. They go through a brutal battle at the laboratory where they discover this information in which Marco is nearly killed. After they retreat to Cassie's barn, Jake orders that they all go home and 'sleep on it', the Animorphs will meet in the morning to decide whether or not to evacuate their families thereby revealing their identities and taking the fight into the open.
Tobias does not return to his meadow but goes to the address the blood databank gave for his mother. He is crestfallen to discover that it is only a few blocks from the house in which he lived with his uncle yet his mother never once came to visit him or showed any interest in her son at all. Tobias easily spots that his mother is being watched by the Yeerks. He observes Loren leaving the house with a guide dog, and quickly realizes that Loren is blind. With the guide dog she walks to a church where she apparently volunteers as a crisis phone line operator, and Tobias follows her.
In the morning the Animorphs unanimously agree to immediately evacuate their families. Cassie and Rachel reveal to their families the truth of the invasion and evacuate them to the Hork-Bajir valley. Ax helps with rescuing Rachel's mother and sisters. Jake tries to rescue his parents as well with the plan that they will subdue Tom and starve the Yeerk out of him at long last freeing Jake's brother. But they appear to be out of the house when the Animorphs arrive, in fact Tom's Yeerk has already had Jake's parents infested and they spring a trap for the waiting Animorphs. They escape and Jake morphs falcon in front of the Yeerks, because he wants to show that he has been fighting all along to inspire fear in the Yeerks and hope in his family that he will rescue them.
Tobias morphs Champ, his mother's guide dog, and spends the night at his mother's house. In the morning he finally meets Loren, who he discovers had lost her memory in an accident years before. But she knew she did have a son, and hoped that he was happy. Tobias laments the fact that he never knew her, and tells her he needed a mother. Tobias then hatches a scheme to help Loren escape by giving her the morphing power. She morphs Tobias in hawk form and they embark on a desperate escape which leads to another battle that they barely escape. During the battle Loren throws herself in front of danger to protect Tobias and is nearly killed. Loren is then evacuated to the Hork-Bajir valley. The morphing ability restores Loren's vision, but not her memories. Tobias still longs for his mother's love and affection which she displays for her beloved guide dog but not for him, however Tobias remembers that she did throw herself in front of danger to protect Tobias. The book ends with Jake as an emotional wreck and the Animorphs safely evacuated to the Hork-Bajir valley with their families. Tobias sits beside Jake and thinks that he and Jake have almost switched places, Tobias has always been the loner without a family and now his family is here with him and Jake is all alone. Tobias reassures Jake that they will keep fighting and they will rescue his family.
- Mr. King
- Erek King
- Toby Hamee
- Peter (Mentioned Only)
- Eva (Mentioned Only)
- The Ellimist (Mentioned Only)
- Granny-Controller (Only Appearance)
- Blue Band Hork-Bajir
- Tom / Tom's Yeerk
- Steve / Steve's Yeerk
- Jean / Jean's Yeerk
- Various human and Hork-Bajir-Controllers
- Edriss 562 (Mentioned Only)
- Visser One (Mentioned Only)
- Champ (Only Appearance)
- Elfangor-Sirinial-Shamtul (Mentioned Only)
- DeGroot (Mentioned Only)
- Dan (Mentioned Only)
- Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic (Final Appearance)
- Ax's Scoop
- Midtown Bio-Services, Inc. (Only Appearance)
- Hork-Bajir Valley
- Abandoned Construction Site (Mentioned Only)
- The Gardens (Mentioned Only)
- Yeerk pool (Mentioned Only)
- Cassie divulges to the group that human-Controllers broke into The Gardens the night before to steal blood samples of their battle morphs, with the Controllers becoming agitated when they could not acquire a sample of a red-tailed hawk. When Jake discloses that The Sharing is sponsoring a human blood drive, the Animorphs realize that the Yeerks are comparing the animal DNA to see if any of the human blood they receive possess any traces of it, meaning that the Yeerks now suspect the 'Andalite bandits' may be human.
- After discovering the location of a Yeerk-run medical facility, the Animorphs infiltrate the building, where they discover that the Yeerks have analyzed Tobias's blood and have located a partial match – his mother, Loren, who abandoned him when he was very young.
- The Animorphs are attacked at the facility by the Blue Band Hork-Bajir, and although they manage to escape, they suffer several injuries in the process, leaving fresh blood in the facility for the Yeerks to collect and analyze; in doing so, the Animorphs' identities are put at risk. The Animorphs consider immediately evacuating their families, while Jake believes that they should get some rest and decide the next morning.
- Tobias locates his mother and discovers that she is blind and thus must use a guide dog, a German shepherd named Champ, to navigate. With the help of Ax and Marco, Tobias manages to acquire and morph into Champ to infiltrate the house and speak to his mother, where she reveals that she suffered an accident and has been rendered amnesiac, and thus does not remember him. To complicate matters, Tobias discovers that his mother is now under Yeerk surveillance.
- Cassie and Rachel reveal their morphing abilities, their participation in the Andalite-Yeerk War and the existence of the Yeerks to their families, who are evacuated to the new Hork-Bajir Valley with the help of the Chee.
- With the Animorphs' identities having been compromised, Tom's Yeerk manages to have his host's parents infested, with Jake's mother attempting to kill Jake. Jake publicly morphs to peregrine falcon in view of his parents, Tom and the Controllers to both spark fear in the Yeerks and to give his family hope, and flies away.
- Jake chastises himself for impatiently attacking the medical facility which comprised their identities without careful planning while exercising unnecessary patience when it came to saving and evacuating his family. Jake's demeanor from this point irreversibly changes after his failure since saving his parents and freeing Tom was Jake's sole motivation for fighting in the war.
- Tobias enlists Ax, Marco and Rachel with a plan to rescue Loren, which involves granting her the morphing ability using the Escafil Device and allowing her to acquire and morph into him. After a scuffle, the five manage to escape.
- Tobias remarks that he and Jake have switched places, with Tobias finally having a family while Jake no longer does.
- It is revealed that Ax and Marco have hacked the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) as a means of both alleviating boredom and gaining potentially valuable and crucial information.
- The Animorphs use the Wildlife Rehabilitation Clinic as their meeting place for the last time, which they've used since The Invasion.
|Morpher||Morphs acquired||Morphs used|
|Jake||--||Housefly, Hork-Bajir, Peregrine Falcon, Siberian Tiger (partially)|
|Rachel||German Shepherd (Champ)||Bald Eagle, African Elephant, Grizzly Bear|
|Tobias||German Shepherd (Champ)||Human (himself), Housefly, Hork-Bajir (Ket Halpak), German Shepherd (Champ)|
|Cassie||--||Housefly, Hork-Bajir, Osprey, Wolf|
|Marco||German Shepherd (Champ)||Osprey, Housefly, Hork-Bajir, Silverback Gorilla (Big Jim)|
|Ax||--||Northern Harrier, Housefly, Hork-Bajir (Jara Hamee), Human (Main)|
|Loren||Red-Tailed Hawk (Tobias)||Red-Tailed Hawk (Tobias)|
- The cover quote is, "This war can't go on forever. Will it be us? Or them...?"
- The inside cover quote is, "Nobody dogs Tobias--except Tobias..."
- This is the fourth and fifth time where an Animorph acquires a living being for the sole purpose of placing them in a trance, rather than requiring their DNA, with Marco and Rachel doing so with Champ, Loren's guide dog.
- This marks the seventh and eighth instance in the series where an Animorph acquires a morph that they do not morph into in the same book and the fourth and fifth instance where an Animorph acquired a morph they never used.
- Tobias mentions being nearly adopted by the then-Visser Three and learning about his parentage from a lawyer-Controller (The Pretender) and the instance in which he was tortured (The Illusion); Jake also mentions the Animorphs contracting yamphut (The Sickness) as well as Tom's attempt to murder their father (The Conspiracy).
- Cassie's father name is revealed to be Walter.
- ANIBASE: The author of this book had this story to share about a particularly memorable scene from The Diversion:
- "Near the end of the book, when they charge through the toy store, Marco the gorilla jumps on a scooter and flies through the store. When I wrote the book, those little razor scooters hadn't jumped onto the scene yet. I was thinking of the old scooters you'd see in Leave it to Beaver or Little Rascals, and I imagined this scooter in this toy store being totally retro. But by the time the book was published, razor scooters were the big rage, so it turned out that I was almost cutting edge! It's one of the few times in my writing career where my timing has been perfect."
- Tobias states that Ax built his scoop soon after coming to Earth; however, Ax landed on Earth during the events of The Invasion and was rescued in The Message, and built his scoop around a year later in The Experiment.
- Cassie's line on p38 is written as if she is using thought-speak, despite the fact that she had already demorphed to human.
- Marco's morphing outfit consists of bike shorts, although it was revealed they had learned to morph non-tight clothing such as jeans in The Resistance.
- On p77, Mr. King's line is written as if it was said using thought-speak.
- Loren is able to gain the morphing ability by touching the Escafil Device without it being activated by a morph-capable individual during the process.
- Loren is seemingly clothed after demorphing, despite the fact that she did not learn how to morph clothing as it is her first time doing so.