(This was first written for my History of Youth Literature class.)
If you’ve ever seen the books with pictures of cats in the middle of the covers, you’ve probably seen the Warriors series. My cousin’s husband (who introduced me to the Percy Jackson series) has been trying to get me to read this series for a long time, so I thought I’d give it a try for the series reading assignment. I downloaded the first volume I saw available on L.A. public library’s OverDrive site starting with the letter “D” for my A-to-Z blogging challenge, trusting that I would be able to pick up the series from any book and be able to follow what was going on. I ended up with Dawn (2005), the third book of the second set of books in the series. I had a hard time getting into the story at first, but by the end of the book, I was starting to be able to tell the cats apart (although some of the names are confusing because they’re so similar). I was also able to figure out which parts of the story were probably referring to previous books and storylines.
I will admit that I skimmed the first chapter of the first book in the series (although I doubt I will go back and read it now), so I knew a little bit about how far the story had come with the third book. The first book starts with a prophecy that gathers a group of warriors from the four Clans of the forest, sending them off on a journey to save the Clans. This book picks up after they return from their journey with instructions to relocate the Clans in order to ensure their survival. The newly-returned warriors realize that “Twolegs” have been taking over, cutting down trees and trapping cats that get in their way, and their Clans are starving because of the human interference. By the end of this book, the Clans make it to their new home, which they don’t get to settle into until the next book.
I was surprised to find that the books were set in a universe with humans because I’d expected the cats to be off in their own world where they acted human but just happened to be cats. It seemed a little preachy about environmental issues, but it was interesting to think about the human world from the cats’ point of view. The story itself also focused more on the power struggles and fights between the different clans and less on the humans except in how they impacted the story.
The book reminded me a lot of the Guardians of Ga’Hoole series, except with cats instead of owls. And both series reminded me of a modern take on the Redwall series (a childhood favorite), written for kids with shorter attention spans… The one thing all these books have in common (other than the fact that they’re all about animals) is that I would read the next book if it was available, but it wouldn’t stress me out too much not to be able to continue with the story. For me, that’s what separates it from the more “literary” series books—even though I care about the characters and I enjoy reading them, none of the stories themselves really “stick” (as in, the plots all feel very similar, and I don’t really remember what happened in any of them).
I don’t know why I was surprised to learn that the Warriors series was actually written by a number of different authors, given what we’ve been learning in the class, but for some reason, the Warriors series seemed more like the type to be churned out by one author rather than four or five. I guess because I’m used to fantasy authors being extremely prolific, and all the other series I know like it were written by a single author (as far as I know, but I haven’t looked too carefully into it…). But the name “Erin Hunter” just seemed to fit too well with the theme of the series for it to be real, so I looked it up, and sure enough, it was a pen name. It was interesting to learn that the authors actually chose “Hunter” as a last name not just because it fit with the cat theme but also because it would place them near the Redwall series, written by Brian Jacques.
This post is my Blogging from A to Z entry for the letter D.