Originally published 5/14/2016. Lead Image from from Paleclaw on the Warriors Wiki.
Warriors: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter.
I first read Into the Wild in the 6th grade, in 2009 or so, and I immediately fell in love with the series. The Warriors series was a huge inspiration for my books as well as my online writings. I’ve read the entire main saga as well as a few stand-alone novels depicting the backstories of specific characters (the collective Silmarillion of cats, if you will). I was disappointed at how the quality of the books seemed to decline once I’d read past the original six-book series, so I was eager to see how I would view the series while reading it as a senior. Would I be bored with it, knowing the plot? Would I have outgrown the writing style?
The answer is no. I could hardly restrain myself to only re-reading the first book (because once I start reading the others, there goes about six months of reading time dedicated to one series); that’s how good the book is, even the second (or possibly third) time around. Even now that I’m almost an adult, I cannot express how good this book is, but I will try my best. This book was so good, it gave me personal insecurities about my own writing. This book was so good, I read it in two nights. This book was so good, I started fantasizing about possibly writing (more) fanfiction for it. This book was so good, I was hesitant to write a review about it because I had nothing bad to say.
This time around, I paid much more attention to the writing style and character development in an attempt to learn from the great writers that comprise the Erin Hunter team. The unique thing about the original Warriors is that it’s one of the few books that would be fun to read even if absolutely nothing happened. The writing has an odd addictive quality. It’s very soothing, with just the right amount of detail. Something about the writing is so poetic that I feel thrilled just from reading a sentence of the book.
The character development is something similar to what I’ve seen in many other books (but that’s not to say that it’s done in a cliche manner). The characters mostly get their personalities assigned to them through limited dialogue and through other characters gossiping about them. It’s interesting how the plot and character development moves forwards so smoothly with this strategy. There is hardly ever a word wasted from those cats.
I remember the plot being one that was particularly difficult to predict. Of course, now I remember everything that Tigerclaw did. But it was still interesting to see the plot move forwards, and to see how the Erin Hunter team doled out new information about the clans to the newcomer Firepaw. Because the writing itself is enough to hold my attention, the plot had enough flexibility to not be obliged to throw action at the audience every other page. I’ve read certain books that want to always stay in motion and never spend time developing their worlds. Other books develop their worlds the way Erin Hunter develops her characters: through shallow remarks. However, the Erin Hunter teams allows itself to spend some time marveling at the beauty of the forest, and not sacrifice time to petty conflicts that do nothing for the plot.
And that’s not even to mention that the plot doesn’t quite end with Into the Wild. With many YA novels, the plot ties up most loose ends at the end of a predictable period of time. In the Percy Jackson Series, each book ends when the quest ends. In Harry Potter, each book ends with the end of another school year. But Warriors has no such distinction, which I think works both to its advantage and disadvantage. On one hand, having loose ends at a book’s finish prompts readers onto the next book. But on the other hand, it is difficult for me to remember the plot after reading it. I can’t just say “Oh, at the end of the first winter so and so died, and by the end of the next winter so and so became clan leader”. There is no recognizable pattern. Of course, not every book has a premise that allows for this. In the case of Harry Potter, it wouldn’t make much sense for the books to last more than one year, because not much happens to Harry over the summer. Percy Jackson could go either way, except that the prophecy claims that something has to happen on Percy’s 16th birthday and he only has time to go questing during the summer; therefore, it wouldn’t make sense to stuff all five quests into one year, or draw it out over eight. In the case of Warriors, I suppose it doesn’t make sense for the plot to suddenly begin every newleaf and end each leafbare.
Overall, if you haven’t read Warriors, read it. This isn’t just my normal hope that if you read it you might pick something up. I honestly believe that these books are so unique that you would be missing something crucial in your cultural/writing style/premise development education if you do not read it. Reading this book will change you as a person.
I also recommend searching up Warriors tributes on Youtube. There is a huge and vastly talented community of artists, animators, and regular fans out there. I still get a lot of my new music from the new tributes. Many of them are truly epic, and all the fans have a great taste in music.