Author: Jean Hegland
Source: Bought on Amazon
Excerpt from Goodreads:
Set in the near-future, Into the Forest is a powerfully imagined novel that focuses on the relationship between two teenage sisters living alone in their Northern California forest home.
Over 30 miles from the nearest town, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, Nell and Eva struggle to survive as society begins to decay and collapse around them. No single event precedes society’s fall. There is talk of a war overseas and upheaval in Congress, but it still comes as a shock when the electricity runs out and gas is nowhere to be found. The sisters consume the resources left in the house, waiting for the power to return. Their arrival into adulthood, however, forces them to reexamine their place in the world and their relationship to the land and each other.
Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale, Into the Forest is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking novel of hope and despair set in a frighteningly plausible near-future America.
*I was required to read this novel for my Women in Literature class.
Impression of the plot:
I’ve read a bit of dystopia in the Young Adult world, but never anything quite like this (this novel is not YA). It almost seemed too modern and too contemporary to be fiction, and to be honest that scared me. This novel follows the lives of two sisters, ages 17 and 18, as they lose their parents, their friends, their gas, their food, and their safety. They persevere through these hard times by focusing on the lives they could’ve had before; the lives they blindly hope to still have waiting for them in the future. While one sister dances ballet to pass her time and ignore her predicament, the other reads the families encyclopedias, and act that will eventually save their lives. This is a gripping novel that made me very uncomfortable at times and left me wondering, what would I do? Would I be able to survive?
Pro’s of the novel:
There is no denying that the writing used in this novel seemed effortless and had a striking similarity to prose. The extreme attention to detail of the sisters, their lives, and their surroundings really allowed me to become engrossed in the plot. From the first paragraph I remember thinking, holy crap, this is going to be good. Another pro is that the characters were very relatable to myself, since I was a dancer for many years and I’ve always been curious about how I would survive or handle a dystopian world.
Con’s of the novel:
Although I define a ‘good’ novel as one that can evoke emotions from its audience, I felt really depressed reading this book. I mark this as a con because at the time I was reading this novel I was struggling through the decision to put my dog, Lady, to sleep after 13 years together. Normally I can handle I sad book but due to what was going on at the time, I had a hard time looking past my own feelings and accepting the novel for what it was.
- Modern Dystopia
Recommendation & Rating:
My recommendation may be different from my review because I don’t want to discourage anyone from reading this novel. It was a beautiful portrayal of two teenage sisters and their survival in a world where they are alone, running out of food, and running out of security. Even though I found it sad I urge readers to pick it up if they were even a little bit interested. Out of all 13 novels I had to read for my Summer A term, this is the only novel I will keep, in hopes that one day I’ll be able to pick it up again. Reading this novel during such a traumatic time in my life forged a connection between me and the book that I can’t deny or pretend to understand.