Sunday, March 13, 2022

REVIEW: Warriors: Into the Wild (book) by Erin Hunter

Into the Wild is the first book in Erin Hunter's Middle Grade fantasy series, Warriors. I got my copy via interlibrary loan.

This review includes slight spoilers.


Rusty, a young indoor-outdoor cat (sorry, kittypet), finds himself drawn to a feral cat colony called ThunderClan. He gives up his kittypet life and joins them as an Apprentice under the new name "Firepaw." As he tries to prove himself as more than just a kittypet, he learns more about clan politics. In particular, ShadowClan is causing trouble, apparently invading and taking over neighboring clan territory.

Maybe it's because I waited so long to finally write my review, but it doesn't seem like much happened in this book. Firepaw was taken into ThunderClan and learned better hunting skills while getting a peek at the edges of clan politics. Clan leaders have the ability to talk to "StarClan" (basically, visions and prophecies), and there are "medicine cats" who can treat injuries and illnesses with herbs and other things. Firepaw's actions result in a wounded cat being taken in to ThunderClan who might turn out to be an enemy, but Firepaw eventually figures out (after many hints) that there's more serious trouble brewing within the clan itself.

I decided to read this because my eldest niece said she was reading and enjoying it. I went through a similar "animal book" phase myself (in particular "anything with cats"), so I can understand the appeal, and maybe this would have worked better for me if I'd read it when I was her age. Unfortunately, I have too many intrusive adult thoughts now. The one that wouldn't shut up for the bulk of this book was something along the lines of "But keeping your pet cats indoors and spaying/neutering them is good, actually." Yes, this series is written from the POV of cats, so the "outdoors = freedom and goodness" thing made sense, but that's also how cats get hit by cars, eaten by coyotes, sick from eating garbage, etc., not to mention what their presence can end up doing to local bird populations.

At the same time, I could see how some kids could potentially get a sense of comfort from these books. From the perspective of his humans (who don't get any on-page appearances, as far as I can recall), Rusty basically disappeared one day, and no one knows what's happened to him. That's essentially what happened to my sister's family's first cat, and I know it devastated my nieces. The idea that the cat went off somewhere and became part of a helpful colony of ferals would probably be a lot more appealing than...the alternative.

In addition to not being able to get my adult brain to shut up, another issue I had while reading this was that I didn't get particularly attached to most of the characters. One cat who'd been in several scenes died, and I barely felt a twinge. Part of the problem, I think, was that so many of the characters blended together. A few of them stood out a bit more, like Tigerclaw and grouchy Yellowfang, but most of them were just names attached to vague cat shapes in my mind. It didn't help that many of the names were very similar - all apprentices had names ending in "paw," leaders always had names ending in "star," and most of the other adults had names ending in the same five or so words ("pelt," "tail," "fur," "flower," etc.).

I don't think I'll be continuing this series, but at least I now know a bit more about the books my niece is enjoying.


A list of characters and their basic descriptions, and two maps, one a depiction of the clan territories from the perspective of the cats and one a depiction of the same area from a human perspective. The cat version is more richly decorated and, of course, looks much more interesting.

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