Friday, 15 May 2015

A book with a one word title - Midnight by Erin Hunter

If I was smarter, I would've made this one 'A book with non-human characters', but I didn't think far enough ahead and have already crossed that one of the list. Anyway!

Midnight is the first book in the second part (The New Prophecy) of the Warriors series, by Erin Hunter - a popular Junior fiction author. A friend got me into this series in the later years of high school and I can't recommend it enough.

First, let me warn you - it's about cats. The main character is a cat, who lives, fights, eats with other cats. If reading from a feline point of view will bother you (or your children, or niece etc) then maybe put this one back down. It's also quite a large series. In the first 'part' (Into The Wild), you meet Rusty who leaves life as a pet and becomes Firepaw, a wild warrior adopted by a forest Clan leader who fights to be accepted in his new home.

Fast forward to the next series - Firepaw (now Firestar) is the Thunderclan leader, and one of his warriors, the new main protagonist Brambleclaw, receives a message from 'Starclan' (basically, their ancestors) that he and three other cats from the different clans must join together and travel out of their homes to save all of the clans from destruction. Tagging along with him is Firestar's young daughter, Squirrelpaw - though not by any choice of his.

It seems pretty straightforward, right?

The reason the Warriors series is so appealing (to me, at least) is the honesty and perhaps brutality of it. My friend calls it the anyone-can-die rule; much like Game of Thrones, where your favourite character could die any moment.
The cats fight, get injured, lose friends and family members - all in the name of their clan. For example, in the very first book in the first part of Warriors, one of who I thought was going to be a main character, dies. I don't mean to spoil too much, but they do - and it's not glossed over or forgotten, either. The character is mentioned various times as they reflect on it's life and what they had done while they were alive.
The cats have disabilities, they have illnesses that affect them continuously. They fight adversity, overcome differences, and teach you that no matter what you look like, or where you come from, you can live bravely and soldier on - and others will accept you. Gosh - one of the noblest cats suffers from PTSD and depression - she loses her kits even, and still she is one of the most powerful characters in the book. All the while making sure this series stays kid-friendly and never focussing on the losses - only overcoming them.

These aren't cats that are side-characters, that you hear about once and then never again. And I feel like that's an important part of what we have to deal with as adults, or teenagers - as the grandchild of a war veteran, the mother of a paraplegic, as the lover of someone you 'shouldn't be loving - and to see it portrayed so well in a junior book about cats is something fantastic.

Warriors deals with all these things in a much more gentle, sensitive and hopeful way that ten-year olds can deal with and think about. It makes it real - 'these things exist' - but also shows how the cats handle life, how they move on or get past obstacles and I don't know, continue living.

Maybe this is just me - maybe I love these books a little too much. I plan to write the other reviews or comments about the books from the challenge much quicker and together (this one is getting long), but I felt Warriors needed it's own post because I just seriously love these books. These are brave books for brave children (and parents) and I could never recommend this series enough.

If you want to try it out for yourself, check out Into The Wild and Fire and Ice - the first two in the series of Warriors. They've even had revamped covers which I particularly like.

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