Author: Erin Hunter
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
"Kittypets can't be warriors! They don't have warrior blood!"
So says the wild kitten that attacks Rusty, a young orange house cat who's wandered into the woods. But Rusty knows he's different--he dreams of hunting mice and finds the life of pet stifling. When a group of wild cats offer him a chance to join their clan as a warrior-in-training, he leaps at the opportunity. Soon Rusty is engulfed in a world of deadly fights, fierce friendships, and mystical visions. Will he fulfill his dream of becoming a full-fledged warrior? Or will the weakness of his kittypet blood win out?
One of my students recommended this book to me, so I decided to give it a shot. Even though I'm not a kid and I don't have a cat, I did find Warriors an adventurous and enjoyable read.
Into the Wild, the first book of the Warriors saga, follows Rusty's journey, as he grows in strength and finds acceptance among the other cats. Food is scarce and cats must compete for hunting ground, so the clans have developed a warrior society, complete with codes of honor, ranks, and ceremonies. It's a well-developed world and fun to learn about. One of my favorite aspects was the idea that the leader of each clan takes a mystical journey and is bestowed with nine lives--literally.
Because of rivalries and border spats between the clans, there's always lots of action to keep the plot moving. The fights are surprisingly violent, and characters do die. I was taken aback when cats I'd grown to care about met a sudden, unexpected end. No one is safe in this world.
The one thing that really bugged me was that the bad guys were so obvious. One cat in particular could have, should have been dealt with much sooner, if Rusty puts the hints together and exposed the villain when he had the chance. Though by the end of the book, Rusty's warrior journey is complete, none of the villains are really dealt with, so the story feels incomplete. There are a lot of threads left hanging.
But I guess that's why it's a series. If you really want to know what happens to Rusty and his friends, it's off to the next book.