Thursday, June 12, 2008

Book Review: Out of the Wild

Out of the Wild
by Sarah Beth Durst

Twelve-year-old Julie Marchen’s home of Northboro, Massachusetts is still recovering from being taken over by the Wild, a mass of vines that is the withered remnant of the fairy tale world. Centuries ago, Julie’s mother Rapunzel led a rebellion against the Wild and helped all the fairy tale characters escape from the tyranny of being forced to live the same story over and over. After that, the Wild was reduced to a mass of vines that usually resides under Julie’s bed, until recently, when someone made a wish at the Wishing Well that helped the Wild to escape. Julie was able to defeat the Wild, but Northboro is still repairing the damage, and its residents are healing from the trauma they experienced while imprisoned in The Wild. Julie is glad that things are back to normal, but she can’t help feeling guilty about leaving her father in the Wild, and wondering if she did the right thing.

Then the Wild does something unexpected: it releases her father, with no warning and no explanation. Julie and Rapunzel are thrilled to have him back, but they can’t help being suspicious. Why did the Wild release him? It’s unlike the Wild to be generous; is this a trap?

Julie’s father is everything that she had dreamed, a real hero. Perhaps too much of a hero: when Sleeping Beauty (who is still asleep from her time in the Wild) is kidnapped, he sets off on a quest to rescue her, without concern for the consequences. As the situation gets worse and the Wild grows in strength, it becomes apparent that someone is behind it all. But why would anyone want the Wild to grow?

Out of the Wild is another great sequel that does what good sequels should do: it turns the assumptions from the first story upside-down, and provides a new and fresh perspective. We’ve seen the tyranny and the horrors of The Wild in Into the Wild. But is it possible that not everyone sees it that way? I don’t want to say too much and spoil the surprises, but this is a fresh and fun sequel that’s every bit as good as the original, maybe better.

The plot is exciting, engrossing, and well-paced, with a dash of humor for good measure. It’s touching watching Julie try to connect with the father she’s never known, except for a brief encounter, as the two of them learn how to relate to each other, and how to adjust to the difference between expectations and reality.

Out of the Wild will be published next Thursday, June 19.
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