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Into the Wild is a fantasy novel written by Kate Cary under the pseudonym Erin Hunter after concepts and outlines created and developed by Victoria Holmes. The novel was published by HarperCollins in Canada and the United States in January 2003, and in the United Kingdom in February 2003. It is the first novel in the Warriors series. The book has been published in paperback, e-book, and Amazon Kindle formats, and in twenty languages. The story is about a young domestic cat who leaves his human owners to join a group of forest-dwelling feral cats called ThunderClan. He is trained to defend and hunt for the Clan, becomes embroiled in a murder and betrayal within the Clan, and, at the end of the book, receives his warrior name, Fireheart, after a battle with another Clan.
The series began in 2003 when HarperCollins requested Holmes to write a book on feral cats. After creating one storyline Holmes brought in Kate Cary to finish writing the book as Holmes went behind the scenes to edit and supervise the details. Holmes has compared to the style of the book to a different language as the books are written by three separate authors. She feels that Erin Hunter must have a consistent voice the entire series. The story uses a lexicon with words such as "twoleg" substituted for "human". The style has been compared to the Harry Potter series, J.R.R. Tolkien and Brian Jacques. Themes include family, loyalty, death, courage, and survival.Into the Wild was critically well received. Booklist believed the book would appeal to followers of Brian Jacques' Redwall series. Among other awards, it claimed third place in the 2006 Young Reader's Choice Award.
Development and publication
|Feral cats seemed like an excellent compromise between regular domestic pussycats and a truly wild animal: they have all the freedom and independence of living in the wild, but they would be instantly recognizable to readers as the pet lying on their lap.|
|— Victoria Holmes answering how the idea for Warriors began.|
In 2003, HarperCollins requested Victoria Holmes to create a fantasy series about feral cats, but, being more interested in dogs and not a reader of fantasy, she was less than enthusiastic. She "couldn't imagine coming up with enough ideas". Nonetheless, she worked with the concept, expanding the storyline with elements of war, politics, revenge, doomed love, and religious conflict. Although the original plan was a stand-alone novel, enough material was created for several books, and the publisher decided upon a six-volume series. Holmes then enlisted the help of another author, Kate Cary whom Holmes had previously edited for and knew she loved cats. The first volume, Into the Wild, was written by Kate Cary under the pseudonym Erin Hunter, and completed in about three months. Holmes continued to act behind the scenes editing and supervising details. Afterwards, Holmes began to like the idea of using cats since she realized how thoughtful they can be leading private lives without any humans realizing.
With two authors at the time Holmes decided to have a pseudonym since having two authors would place the books at different places at libraries, confusing and possibly scaring off potential readers. The last name Hunter was chosen since it put the books next to the Redwall series which has a similar genre.
Into the Wild was first published as a hardcover by HarperCollins on January 9, 2003, in Canada. The book was released on January 21, 2003, in the United States, and in February 2003 in the United Kingdom. Into the Wild was released as a paperback in the US on January 6, 2004. On September 4, 2007, the book was released as an eBook, and on Amazon's Kindle. The book was one of the first to be in HarperCollins' "Browse Inside" program where twenty percent of the novel is available online. For a limited time, the complete novel was also available online. The paperback version sold 150,637 copies in 2008.
The novel has been released and translated into twenty countries including German, Britain, France, Russia, Japan, Korea, China, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Portugal, Hungary, Brazil, Norway and Greece. In Germany. In Germany, the book has also been released as an audiobook. The Chinese version was released on October 31, 2008, with a 3-D card of Firepaw.
Into the Wild follows the integration of a house cat called Rusty into a group of feral cats living in a fictional forest inspired by the real world locales of New Forest, the woods about Loch Lomond and the Scottish Highlands. The group of cats are called ThunderClan, and share the fictional forest with three other groups of feral cats called RiverClan, WindClan, and ShadowClan.
The novel opens with a prologue that follows a battle between ThunderClan and RiverClan over a strip of land. ThunderClan is outnumbered and their deputy, Redtail, calls a retreat. Rusty has yet to appear in the novel, but a veiled reference is made to him in a prophecy ThunderClan receives from the spirits of their ancestors: "Fire alone can save our Clan."
Following the prologue, Rusty makes his appearance in the plot. He accepts an invitation to join ThunderClan and trains to become a warrior under a new name, Firepaw, inspired by his flame-colored pelt. He learns Tigerclaw, an ambitious member of the Clan, murdered Redtail, and will stop at nothing to attain his goal of becoming Clan leader. Tigerclaw realizes Firepaw knows his secret, but he remains a trusted member of the Clan. In a battle against a rival Clan, Firepaw acts with courage and bravery, and receives his warrior name, Fireheart, in acknowledgement.
|"Into the Wild did occasionally remind me of the Harry Potter books, both in writing style and content. Rusty forms a firm friendship with an apprentice (warrior in training, more than six months old) called Greypaw, a longhaired solid grey tom. Greypaw adds the laughter to what is, when you really think about it, a rather gritty story. This friendship reminded me strongly of Harry on Ron when they first met in the Philosopher’s Stone. Cats such as Bluestar and Yellowfang form the older authority figures. These two characters reminded me of Dumbledore and Snape (though not too closely)."|
|—A review from Fantasy Book Review comparing Into the Wild and the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.|
With three authors writing the same book, Holmes has to "make sure that [the book] “sounds” like Erin, because she has a very distinctive voice". She compares their style to a different language and after all the scripts she gone through, Holmes knows when a sentence of phrase isn't in the right voice. Kate Cary describes the voice as their natural writing style. The story is told in a third person point of view following the protagonist Firepaw. The narration stays with Firepaw until the next series, Warriors: The New Prophecy, in which the point of view alternates between cats since the authors felt that "we'd really told Firestar's story, and so we wanted to get a fresh viewpoint".
The style of the book has also been compared to the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. The Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote that the book "is patterned in the style of classics by J.R.R. Tolkien or Brian Jacques". While School Library Journal recommended the book to Redwall fans, the reviewer still felt the style wasn't as elegant.
The book has a lexicon with certain different names for foreign objects. A Children's Literature review noted the words "kittypet" and "twoleg" which mean housecat and humans respectively. In the book, instead, of using "said", the Cary uses the word "mewed". This was criticized with the reviewer writing "that 'he mewed', 'she purred', and 'the warrior mewed', which pass for cat talk, grows old fast". In response to a question at the Q&A section of the forum Holmes explained that the names come "in two parts, either or both of which can reflect something about the cat's appearance, personality, or habits". However, they must also be part of the world they know; Holmes originally gave Tigerclaw the name Hammerclaw until one of the editors pointed out the cats wouldn't know what a hammer is. For the names, Kate Cary says that she takes in inspiration for the names from "sight, sounds and scents the cats would experience". At the same time, more names become available as the cat's world becomes more diverse.
Genre and themes
HarperCollins originally requested that Holmes write a "fantasy story on feral cats". Though troubled on what to right about at first, Holmes realized she could add human themes and issues into the book such as "war, politics, revenge, doomed love, religious conflict". An interviewer has described the plot as "Shakespearian: a mad leader, intra-clan betrayal, war, star-crossed lovers, death". Reviews have also called the story an "animal adventure".
The book is part of the young adult fantasy genre which has been increasingly popular. Cherith Baldry feel that the growth of genre is due to the fact that "fantasy is something very deeply rooted in the human mind, not just for children". Fantasy stories are able to deal with human emotions helping readers to deal with them in the real world. The other Erin Hunter Kate Cary felt that fantasy books such as Harry Potter "is a sign of a deepening need for fantasy to brighten our lives". She describes how as a child she was far less restricted than today's children whose days are structured and scheduled. Cary feels that fantasy stories help kids "escape into the world of the imagination, because it’s the only place they can be really free and un-judged".
Publishers Weekly noted that themes such as family, friendship and responsibility are also taught in the warrior code, the set of rules that the Clans must follow. Holmes has said that one of her favorite things about writing the series is being able to add in themes that apply to us all such as family, loss, honor, bravery, death, loyalty, and following rules. Other themes include "death and spirituality and family and relationships". She also added in human themes such as "starting at a new school (Rusty joining ThunderClan), falling in love with the wrong person (Graystripe and Silverstream) and being bullied by someone who should look after you". To Kirkus Reviews, the human theme of fitting in will be easily found and be applauded when he succeeds.
Another theme found throughout the book is the hardship of life in the wild. Reviews have note how the story does not cover up the hardships of Clan life. School Library Journal commented on how the story describes the hardships and difficulties of a feral cat's life in detail and how there is no sugarcoating of the violence. Fantasy Book Review also wrote "Erin Hunter does not spare the reader from the grim realities of living in the wild". Kirkus Reviews noted that doing so shows how the Clans are on the brink of survival.
Into the Wild received generally positive reviews. Booklist thought the novel "spine-tingling" and noted that "the cat characters are true to their feline nature, making this sure to appeal to fans of Clare Bell's long-popular Ratha's Creature (1983) and its sequels and also to followers of Brian Jacques' ongoing Redwall series." Publishers Weekly praised the excitement and also added that the book would please any person who "has ever wondered what dreams of grandeur may haunt the family cat". The review also praised the world of the cats and themes put into the book. Although School Library Journal thought the book not as well written as the Redwall series, it did note that the novel presented an "intriguing world with an intricate structure". The review also felt that was too many supporting characters, but "there are standouts who give dimension to the tale". The amount of violence was also noted in the review. Kirkus Reviews joked the book would have cat owners look at their pets nervously before writing how Hunter doesn't have "any hint of sentimentality. Snapping bones, flowing blood, and sudden death abundantly demonstrate how these cats walk on the thin edge of survival". The review noted how teens would see how hard it is for Firepaw to fit in. Washington Times notes the tension rising between Tigerclaw and Firepaw and praised the scene where Longtail challenges Firepaw's right to be in the Clan.
Awards and recognitions
- "INTERVIEW: Erin Hunter". Writers Unboxed. Retrieved 2 August 2008.
- Mireles, Nabor (May 1, 2009). "Time For Kids". Retrieved 29 September 2010. Text " News " ignored (help); Text " 10 Question for Victoria Holmes" ignored (help)
- "Transcript of Erin Hunter Post Chat 6". Retrieved 24 July 2010.
- "CATSWITH ATTITUDE: ?Warriors' series of books for young readers use fearless felines to entertain, teach important lessons". TMC.net. April 18, 2010. Retrieved 18 October 2010.
- "Transcript Of Erin Hunter Chat #1". Wands and Worlds. Retrieved 2 March 2008.
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- "Aamzon catalog: Into the Wild (Warriors, Book 1) (Hardcover)". Amazon.com. Retrieved 5 April 2008.
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- "Warriors #1: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter". HarperCollins. Retrieved 11 September 2010.
- Alpert, Mara (May 2003). "EBSCOhost: Into the Wild (Book) School Library Journal". EBSCOhost. School Library Journal. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
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- Roback, Diane (December 23, 2002). "EBSCOhost: INTO THE WILD (Book) Publishers Weekly". EBSCOhost. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
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- "Warriors: FAQ". Warriors. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
- Estes, Sally (February 15, 2003). "EBSCOhost: Into the Wild Booklist". EBSCOhost. Booklist. Retrieved 13 October 2010.
- Wong, Justin (November 5, 2005). "EBSCOhost: Adventurous pet joins cat 'Warriors'". Washington Times (EBSCOhost). Retrieved 6 October 2010.
- Estes, Sally (April 15, 2003). "Top 10 fantasy books for youth. (Spotlight on SF/Fantasy).(Bibliography)". AccessMyLibrary. Booklist. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2010.
- "Warriors #1: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter". HarperCollins. Retrieved 19 July 2010.