Rusty is a young housecat; barely more than a kitten. But the scent of adventure, the thrill of the hunt, has always remained in his nostrils, and he dreams of freedom. One day, he brazenly ventures into the woods, where the wildcats live, and finds an entire new life. He is grafted into the ThunderClan, one of four clans of wild cats which live in the woods behind the TwoLegPlace, as Firepaw. Thus begins Into the Wild, the first book in the Warriors series.
Into the Wild is written in a delightful, sort of modern-day Redwall type of book. The characters are all cats, which think, speak and act as humans. Whenever I come across books like this, I think of the protagonist as a man trapped inside of an animal’s body. Indeed, the story of Firepaw, formerly Rusty, is far beyond that of a cat, but rather that of a complex character, which struggles with loyalty, questioning his beliefs, and fitting in with others. That being said, this book is written for younger audiences, around middle school, thus some of the themes are not-so-subtly woven in.
The plot is simple: Rusty, a former housecat, wanders into the woods, and into the territory of the ThunderClan. Ridiculed as a kittypet, he is nonetheless accepted as an apprentice among the ranks of the ThunderClan warriors. ThunderClan is in a precarious struggle for survival against the other three wildcat clans, all of whom are running short on food with the encroaching of the TwoLegs (humans). And when the ShadowClan drives out the WindClan and dominates the RiverClan, it is up to ThunderClan to stand against the wildcats of the north.
I found little fault with this book. My biggest problem would be the cats’ belief in a StarClan, or the stars, which are the ‘souls’ of all the deceased cats of the clan. Cats pray to this StarClan, and rely on it for guidance. Worship of ancestors, even in fiction, isn’t right; and of course there is no mention of the One True God. A second, smaller gripe would be that the Clan leaders each have nine lives, and can reincarnate when seriously wounded. Other than that, there is little in this book to be worried about.
This series is written for a middle-school audience, and I think that for these grades this book is excellent. I highly recommend it to fans of Brian Jacques as well, who will find the talking animals and interesting depiction of events from an animal’s perspective refreshingly similar to the Redwall series. Still; these aren’t just for younger audiences – I am a senior in high school and still enjoyed reading this book.
Published on 20 June, 2011. Last updated on