Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Yes, I know- it's a kid's book, usually placed as middle grade. But I like cats, so I thought I's give it a try. It's not a bad book. There are some moments of predictablility, and the writing is a bit simplistic, but it is aimed at children, so those can be somewhat overlooked.
Rusty, a housecat (or "kittypet" to the ferals), has a pretty good life with his humans. But he dreams every night of being free in the forest, hunting mice. One night, he stays out to explore and runs into the feral cats, who invite him to join their clan. Rusty eagerly accepts. (Of course, I couldn't help thinking, "But his people are going to be sad! They'll worry and miss him!" Of course, the focus of the story is Rusty and not his people.) He is renamed Firepaw, and begins to learn the ways of a warrior cat in the clan.
His new family, ThunderClan, is one of four that have shared the forest according to laws set down by the ancestors. But food grows scarce, and the sinister ShadowClan plans to make sure they are the ones to survive as strongest. Firepaw is pulled into the conflict and must figure out the intrigues as well as the battles to save his clan.
The cats are nicely done. These are not humanized animals, although they do have personality. They hunt, kill, fight, get hurt, and some die. The hard life of a feral cat is outlined, but never made to seem extreme. The cats are happy with their lives. They have a clan structure, with leaders and teachers. They hunt their own food, but there is no graphic description of the killing. The battles are well described, although, again, not overy graphic or bloody.
The story is a little bit predictable at times, but as it is aimed at younger readers, I don't think it would be nearly as effective if the plot were too complex and convoluted. The ending resolves some of the problems in the story, and leaves others open for future volumes.
It was a quick read for me, and reasonably interesting. I'm sure a middle elementary student who likes cats, or animals in general, would enjoy these books a lot.
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