Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) For generations, four Clans of wild cats have shared the forest according to the laws laid down by their warrior ancestors. But the ThunderClan cats are in grave danger, and the sinister ShadowClan grows stronger every day. Noble warriors are dying– and some deaths are more mysterious than others.
In the midst of this turmoil appears an ordinary house cat named Rusty . . . who may turn out to be the bravest warrior of them all.
Thoughts: From the time I first picked up this book, to now, I have had a soft spot for this series. While on the surface it may seem like something bland an uninteresting, a series for little kids, rest assured that this series contains some very heavy stuff as it goes along.
However, you don’t get to see much of that in this first book. Into the Wild is more of a coming-of-age tale of Rusty, a housecat who longs to be free and roam the outdoors. Through luck and skill, he manages to find a place within one of the four cat Clans in the nearby forest, and becomes Firepaw, and eventually Fireheart when he becomes a full warrior for the Clan.
In many ways, this book isn’t too different from many fish-out-of-water tales, either. As someone who has lived his life as an outsider, Firepaw is in that wonderful position to have everything explained to him by others, making him a proxy for the reader. As Firepaw learns, so do we. This is handled quite well, really, and the info-dumps are neither long nor boring. Erin Hunter (who is actually a group of authors writing under a pseudonym, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll refer to them as a single person) certainly shows off a high degree of creative talent in the world that is set up around the Clan cats. Rituals, history, mythology, all of it’s there, from the perspective of feral cats.
I find that this series straddles the line between a simple children’s tale and deeper fantasy. While there are clear fantastical elements, such as the presence of the supernatural and prophecies, most of the characters are more concerned with their mundane lives than with grand spiritual affairs, though spiritual believe certainly runs through them all. It’s a hard book to classify into a genre, though I think fantasy is probably the closest.
This is definitely a strong start to what I already know is a fantastic and deep series of books, though taken as part of the whole, it can be a little bit dull. There’s some political intrigue, discovery, plenty of action, but for the most part it’s intended as an introduction to the world that we’ll be seeing a lot more of in future books, and to much greater detail. If you read this and find yourself a little put off by how slow it can be sometimes, I’d recommend sticking it out and seeing your opinion after the second book, when much more of the plot really starts to take off.