Young adult fiction is a very competitive market. Sometimes, I wonder if young adults today even read. Judging from the amount of books being published for the target audience, they must. So, I was scanning the lists at BookMooch and PaperBackSwap for children's books, when I noticed that the "Warriors" series by Erin Hunter was very popular. Shortly thereafter, I run across the first book in this series, for sale, for $1 at a used bookstore. What luck! I could buy a book that was very popular, and if my nephew did not want it, I could post it at either BookMooch or PaperBackSwap for a quick point.
Of course, then I noticed how short the book was, so I decided to read it. I figured, what would it hurt! Well, let me tell you! It didn't hurt! And as children's literature goes, I rather enjoyed it. So, let me start at the beginning.
I love cats. I used to have a cat, who sadly passed away with cancer. That happens to humans and animals, unfortunately. This has nothing to do with the book of course, but when my cat was alive, I used to always wonder what he dreamed about. When his little limps twitched a certain way while he slept, was that because he was chasing a field mouse? When his ear twitched in his sleep and he made a groaning sound, was he getting set for the hunt? When he looked out the window and he saw the other cats, or dogs, or squirrels, what did he think? Did he want to be out there?
Erin Hunter, the author of the "Warriors" series takes those thoughts to their next logical step. The "hero" of the first book is a domesticated cat, named "Rusty". Rusty has not yet been fixed. When his owners let him go out the back door in the afternoon, but before nightfall, Rusty approaches the back fence bordering the forest with awe and some trepidation, but without fear. The other domesticated cats warn Rusty that he's in dangerous territory with his wild strolls in the woods, until one day Rusty runs into some wild cats. These cats are members of the Thunderclan, one of four clans of wild, untamed cats, roaming the back woods of this particular little corner of the Earth. Rusty receives an invitation to join Thundeclan from the clan leader. It later becomes clear that all of the clans are desperate for survival.
Food is getting scarce in the hunting territories, and someone is attacking and killing Warrior cats. It takes time to raise new kittens and train them into full blown Warriors. If Rusty pans out as a recruit, and he has the strength to live wild, he is an easy made recruit into the Warrior structure of Thunderclan. "Rusty" of course, accepts the call of the wild, as he feels it in his bones. And we're witness to his subsequent integration into Thunderclan and his training into becoming a Warrior. There of course many bumps on the road, but to give those away, I would be spoiling the book.
This fascinating first book by Erin Hunter is a worthwhile effort, teaching many positive lessons for children of all ages that will pick this book up. I was so impressed by the way the author weaved the story, and gave us an insight into cat culture. If my cat dreamed of living away from me, this is the life I would envision for him. In fact, if Tommy (my cat) is waiting for me at "Rainbow's Bridge", I want him to be running around and having fun, rollicking, playing and experiencing all his best dreams. Erin Hunter captures those feelings in this book, fantastically. It's not all posh and spice of course, there are trials and tribulations. There are fights to fight, a minor war to wage, a rescue to conduct, etc. Yet, the spirit of the Warrior cats shines through, as Truth, Justice, belief in the Righteousness of one's cause, Honor, Friendship all come into play. Indeed, these are magnificent virtues to teach a young person, and the author not only spins a wonderful yarn (like a fable, but even more so), but succeeds in teaching also.
At this point, I plan on reading more books in this series as time, and other reading allows. And this book gets a definite 3 stars.