Into the Wild by Erin Hunter

Into the Wild
Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

My biggest beef with this book is that it has the same title as Jon Krakauer’s book about Christopher McCandless, which is a very different book than this one. Although now that I think about it, both follow a protagonist who chooses to leave behind a life in civilization for the comparative realness of the wilderness. But really, that’s where the similarity ends because McCandless went out on his own, Thoreau-style (but without as much thought about his wardrobe or really any other planning), while Rusty/Firepaw/Fireheart joins a clan of wild cats. And, of course, McCandless was not a cat.

Which leads me to my second-biggest beef with this book: Cats living in colonies. This Into the Wild mirrors Watership Down but with cats instead of rabbits. The only trouble is, I don’t think feral cats and wild rabbits have similar social structures. Maybe I’m totally off with this. I’ve not studied the large feral cat populations that live in Key West and at the University of Hawaii; maybe they act just like the four clans in Hunter’s book. I just had some trouble believing that cats would cooperate in the way that Hunter’s cats do, sharing food and territory and organizing to protect this shared territory from other clans. The feral cats I’ve encountered are all pretty loner-ish. Also, they don’t meow, which Hunter’s cats do a lot.

But like I said, I’m no expert on the group behaviors of feral cats.

In spite of these annoyances—and in spite of myself—I enjoyed the story. Every time I sat down to read it and looked at the cover illustration, I just felt ridiculous. I mean, I should be reading David Hume’s The History of England, Volume V, which I’ve been working on since June, and here I am with a book about the politics of a feral cat colony. It would be different if I were reading the book aloud to my kids, but that wasn’t the case. My eight-year-old read it on her own and then said, “Mommy! You HAVE to read this! It’s GREAT!” So it was my post-bedtime read for several nights.

The whole subplot with Yellowfang and how she gained the trust of the clan really drew me in. Was Yellowfang really guilty of the crimes with which she was charged? Would Firepaw finally tell Bluestar about Tigerclaw’s secret?

I just had to keep reading to find out.

And to avoid reading about the ill-fated reign of King Charles.

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9 comments

  1. Jenn · August 22, 2013

    My son said he read this book in 5th grade and he said he liked it a lot.

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  2. Dana · August 21, 2013

    We haven’t read any of Erin Hunter’s books but are looking forward to them. I was wondering if there was a McCandless reference myself! Maybe we’ll get to them this year, although I am currently daunted by our History literature! 🙂

    Like

    • CJ · August 21, 2013

      What history literature are you doing this year? My daughter’s still young enough, we just pick up library books from the recommended reading section of The Story of the World activity books each week, but I know we’ll need to do something different once she’s in the “middle grades” (which are approaching at an alarming speed).

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      • Dana · August 21, 2013

        We’re doing Story of the World 2 literature list. IrishMum has a great one but it’s huge! My guys love to read, too, but they are always immersed in something NOT on the list which gives me anxiety. Then when I think of all the Newberry titles they haven’t read, I have trouble breathing. But the Erin Hunter books look great!

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  3. IrishMum · August 21, 2013

    We have all the Warrior series, the manga and some of Erin’s other series Seekers, and Survivors. My boys love everything by Erin, and we would give the Warriors a 10 out of 10!!

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    • CJ · August 21, 2013

      My daughter certainly rates it that highly! I like Michelle Paver’s Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series better, though. (Which I only compare with this one because we’re reading both series right now.)

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      • IrishMum · August 21, 2013

        We love that too! I think Warriors is aimed at a young audience, my boys began reading it a 5 and got so into it that they have reread it multiple times. They didn’t read Ancient Darkness till 8 or 9. Maybe we just love all books 😉

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  4. Debbie · August 21, 2013

    Owen and I had tried this a while back but we abandoned it. I thought it was completely absurd and he wasn’t intrigued, so it was easy to let it slide. I’ve heard mostly good things, so maybe we’ll give it another try.

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    • CJ · August 21, 2013

      Really, if it weren’t for my daughter being so into it, I would have dropped it before I was halfway through. It does pick up once Yellowfang shows up, and the second half of the book is better than the first. I’m not sure I’ll be reading any more of the series, though.

      If you didn’t give it another try, I’m not sure you’d be missing much. I’m encouraging my daughter to go with Watership Down next. That’s a book I can read over and over.

      Like

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