Monday, April 30, 2007

Book Review: Into the Wild


Into the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst

Julie is just an ordinary teen, except for a few tiny things. Like the fact that her mother is Rapunzel, her brother is Puss in Boots and her grandmother is a Wicked Witch. And where most teens might have dirty clothes under their bed, Julie has The Wild - a tangle of vines which is all that remains of the fairy tale world after the fairy tale characters escaped. The Wild may be confined, but it's not tame - it constantly seeks to find a way to escape and grow and take over. So when someone makes a wish, The Wild escapes, and chaos and mayhem ensue. Julie's mother and grandmother are missing in the Wild, along with many of the residents of the town. Julie ventures into The Wild to rescue her family. Julie has to try to find a way to defeat The Wild before she, too, becomes trapped in a fairy tale forever.

Into the Wild is an amazing, wild, romp of an adventure. There have been a spate of fairy tale related YA novels in recent years, but Into the Wild is a truly unique entry in the genre. Like many of the others, Into the Wild, is humorous: imagine Cinderella as a bottle-blond named Cindy, who drives an orange Subaru and wears clear plastic jelly shoes. But the humor isn't what distinguishes Into the Wild. What really sets it apart is that Durst truly gets - and truly conveys to the reader - the darkness in the old fairy tales, not only the obvious darkness of having to dance in red-hot iron shoes, but the darkness of happily ever after. Imagine being trapped in a destiny that you can't change, of being unable to determine your own course no matter what you do. It's that destiny that makes marrying the prince as horrifying a fate as being cooked in an oven. Into the Wild makes clear the difference between true happiness and happily-ever-after.

Julie is a wonderful protagonist. She's likable and spunky, smart and brave. She comes across as a real teen, which is crucial to set the contrast with the two-dimensional fairy tale world.

Durst is a talented writer and I think she has a bright future ahead of her (but hopefully not happily ever after!) The book has already received rave reviews from numerous other sources. I'll be looking forward to other books by her in the future.

Into the Wild will be released on June 21, 2007.
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