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Into the Wild [Paperback]

Sarah Beth Durst
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 4.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Razorbill; Reprint edition (29 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595141855
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595141859
  • Product Dimensions: 21 x 13.8 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,256,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great premise 20 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
Loved the idea of this book - keeping the equivalent of Sleeping Beauty's forest under the bed, straining to get out. I don't normally read this type of fantasy novel, but I really enjoyed this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 22 Jun 2007
By TeensReadToo TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Once upon a time, the characters in all the old fairy tales escaped. To our world. Where they live like normal people. Well, almost normal. Okay, Julie, the daughter of Rapunzel, doesn't think there's anything particularly normal about any of them. Or her life. And there is definitely nothing normal about the thing under her bed.

Since the escape, Rapunzel has cut off her hair and runs a beauty salon. She and Julie live with Julie's brother, Puss and Boots. Though he just pretends to be the family pet. Julie's grandmother used to be the wicked witch who ate small children. Now she's just a nice old lady with a creepy laugh, who runs an inn. Julie's father, the Prince, never made it out. And the thing under the Julie's bed is The Wild.

The Wild used to hold all of the fairy tales. Now it has to be watched and controlled, or else it will try to grow and imprison everyone all over again. It's weak enough to be kept under Julie's bed, but that doesn't stop it from trying to transform everything that gets close to it. Julie's down to only mismatched shoes and flip flops, and you don't even want to know what happened when they tried to keep it in the basement! As long as no one completes a fairy tale act, or makes a wish in the wishing well at Grandmother's inn, The Wild remains safely locked in Julie's room, and all of the characters who made it out are safe.

Just like in fairy tales, one day something goes terribly wrong. Someone seems to have got to the wishing well, and The Wild has escaped. By the time Julie gets to it, it's already taken over most of the town. The city is evacuating. And The Wild is growing.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  22 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Into the woods and out of the woods and home before dark 21 April 2007
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There is a temptation in picking up a novel containing fairy tale characters to judge it swiftly and surely and then lay it down without reading it through. And when I found that first time novelist Sarah Beth Durst had based her children's novel, "Into the Wild" on the fairy tale genre I was not impressed. I picked up the book with a sigh, started reading, and to my surprise found myself chapter by chapter enmeshed in a tale of free will, the very definition of happiness, self-sacrifice, and out-and-out good storytelling. It's very difficult to take old worn conceits in overly well-known fairy tales and then spin them into something fresh, new, and touching. Durst has a style entirely of her own that bears watching. Consider this an intense debut.

Julie is the daughter of Rapunzel. No, really. She is. You see, long ago all the fairy tales you ever heard of were prisoner to something called The Wild. It was a state of being, really. Forcing its fairy tale characters to relive their stories over and over, The Wild was almost impossible to escape. It sapped your free will, made you forget anything prior to the current story you were living, and surrounded you. Only after Rapunzel found a way to defeat it after multiple failures were the characters able to cross over into the real world and live normal lives. In fact, what remains of The Wild sits crossly as a big leafy lump under Julie's bed. This wouldn't really be a problem, except that one day The Wild escapes. Now it's rapidly devouring both Massachusetts and everyone who lives there, forcing them to become characters in already established roles. It's up to Julie and her step-brother Puss-in-Boots to bring The Wild under control. That is, if it doesn't get Julie under its control first.

I'll lay it on the line for you. After reading the first chapter of this book I was seriously concerned for its well-being. Fairy tales, thought I. I am sick to death of fairy tales. If it's not The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley then it's that Sondheim musical Into the Woods . Actually, by a weird coincidence I had read Buckley's first "Sisters Grimm" book just prior to picking up Durst's, and my fear was that her title would be a pale imitation of the first. As I read it through, though, I found myself coming to the slow realization that not only was Durst's book a great read, there were layers of depth and intelligence to it that far exceeded anything Buckley's series (for all its amusement) was capable of.

Durst starts off slowly, introducing old characters in new formats. The seven dwarfs are sexist old men. Cinderella drives a wild orange vehicle and wears hopelessly gaudy clothes. And Goldilocks? Totally selfish. You wouldn't want to meet her. So you begin by thinking that this is just another cheery/silly tale. Then it gets dark. Fast. Dark and good. Dark and good and wholly engaging. The Wild isn't just the villain of the piece. It's the ultimate villain. If you find yourself finishing a fairy tale while you're in it, that's basically the end of you. Your mind at that point will be sapped of all your memories and your will no longer your own. This might sound quaint under another writer's thumb, but Durst makes it perfectly clear right from the start that this is an intolerable situation. And the implications are just as horrific as any story by the Grimms. Do YOU want to get eaten by a wolf every day for the rest of your life, just to be cut out of it by a huntsman again and again and again? No, thank you.

I loved that Durst knew some of the lesser known fairy tales as well. As a kid I owned a beautifully illustrated collection of stories including the tale of the boy who scales a glass mountain and another where a girl dropped roses and jewels from her mouth every time she spoke. Both of these appear in this book, though Durst is quick to point out that anyone who spits thorny flowers and spiky gems from their tender lips is going to suffer as a result. The author also keeps to the original fairy tale versions for the most part. In Cinderella's tale the birds peck out the step-sisters' eyes. In Snow White's tale the queen must dance in red hot shoes until she dies. You don't see any of this firsthand, so don't come away from this review thinking that this is some kind of kiddie horror book or anything. This isn't Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" series. Durst walks the fine line between telling and showing and "Into the Wild" is completely appropriate for kids in the fourth grade and up. Still, at the same time it's not pussyfooting around some of the darker aspects of the folktales we've all grown up knowing in one format or another.

As for the story itself, in Julie the author explains perfectly why the daughter of Rapunzel would be the only person capable of saving the day. As the book itself explains, "Julie was the only one who could recognize the story bits and who didn't already belong to a specific story. `I'm the only one who straddles both worlds,' Julie said." This duality has always hurt her in the past. Now it becomes her strength, and she's able to use it, even when she gets betrayed by someone she loves. The Wild, for its part, also makes sense as a character. As it explains at one point, "I give them [the characters] a beginning, a middle, and an end; a once upon a time and a happily ever after. I give rewards to the good and punishment to the bad. I give order and sense to an otherwise arbitrary existence." And who amongst us hasn't wanted a little order at some point in their past? Or thought, when they were young, how much they'd like to be a prince or princess in a tale? Durst taps into that desire and then deftly turns it on its head.

Now I had some small concerns here and there with the book. First and foremost, there's the fact that Julie is (aside from her adopted cat brother) an only child. Anyone who remembers her mother's story, however, knows that in the story Rapunzel had twins. Considering that most of these stories hearken back to their origins, it seems odd that this would be different. Plus the fairy tale characters seem to have escaped from The Wild in the Dark Ages. Yet Julie's birth has been delayed until the present day which, by anyone's definition, is a long time to come to term. So does this make the characters immortal? Or did they escape more recently than that? I also felt that the true villain of the piece, the one who allows The Wild to grow in the first place, was a bit obvious right from the start. Then again, I'm a woman in her late twenties. Who am I to say that kids will see this one coming? I think they will, but I could be wrong.

But altogether it works beautifully. Rapunzel often sends her daughter off to school by telling her, "Have an uneventful day." When excitement can only be paired with personal danger, that kind of farewell make a heckuva lot of sense. Basically, this is a strong debut with a nice of what it hopes to accomplish. For those of you tired of fairy tale stories or even books where the plot is basically a fairy tale adapted into a new telling, "Into the Wild" comes across as a breath of fresh air. Worth reading.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great adventure with lots of surprises! 29 Jun 2007
By Tamora Pierce - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I just re-read INTO THE WILD, and it's every bit as wonderful as I remember it. When Rapunzel and her prince help to free the fairy tale characters of the Wild, Rapunzel settles down to the life of a beautician with a young daughter, Julie (her prince was lost in the fight for freedom). Julie's in middle school now, and she wants to know what happened to her father. She wants her home life to be less weird, starting with the Wild that's under her bed, eating her shoes. She wants normal clothes and a normal life; she wants her mom to stop treating her like a baby.

Then the Wild escapes. Suddenly it's eating Julie's town. Rapunzel is a captive once more, and it's up to Julie to save her mom, her grandmother the Wicked Witch Gothel, and everyone she knows from being caught and doomed to repeat the Grimmest of fairy tales over and over. Can she do it? She's a brave girl, but she has no magic, only a knapsack filled with magical devices, Puss in Boots for a brother, and a broad knowledge of each twist and turn of the stories that wait to trap her.

This is a smart book with plenty of twists, a funny, determined girl hero and a cast as varied as the unexpurgated Brothers Grimm, with Baba Yaga to keep an eye on things. It's a rollicking read!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too 22 Jun 2007
By TeensReadToo - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Once upon a time, the characters in all the old fairy tales escaped. To our world. Where they live like normal people. Well, almost normal. Okay, Julie, the daughter of Rapunzel, doesn't think there's anything particularly normal about any of them. Or her life. And there is definitely nothing normal about the thing under her bed.

Since the escape, Rapunzel has cut off her hair and runs a beauty salon. She and Julie live with Julie's brother, Puss and Boots. Though he just pretends to be the family pet. Julie's grandmother used to be the wicked witch who ate small children. Now she's just a nice old lady with a creepy laugh, who runs an inn. Julie's father, the Prince, never made it out. And the thing under the Julie's bed is The Wild.

The Wild used to hold all of the fairy tales. Now it has to be watched and controlled, or else it will try to grow and imprison everyone all over again. It's weak enough to be kept under Julie's bed, but that doesn't stop it from trying to transform everything that gets close to it. Julie's down to only mismatched shoes and flip flops, and you don't even want to know what happened when they tried to keep it in the basement! As long as no one completes a fairy tale act, or makes a wish in the wishing well at Grandmother's inn, The Wild remains safely locked in Julie's room, and all of the characters who made it out are safe.

Just like in fairy tales, one day something goes terribly wrong. Someone seems to have got to the wishing well, and The Wild has escaped. By the time Julie gets to it, it's already taken over most of the town. The city is evacuating. And The Wild is growing. When Julie finds out that it's already taken her mom and her grandmother she knows she has to go in and save them, and possibly everyone and everything else.

She'll just have to be careful to not get stuck in a story, or accidentally end one, and help everyone she knows remember who they are so they don't get too stuck. And not let The Wild beat her. If she can find her way to the wishing well, and manage to make the right wish, she just might be able to get everyone out of there. Or, she might get stuck in her own fairy tale forever.

Who hasn't wished that they could live in a fairy tale? Marry the handsome Prince or Princess and live happily ever after? Sounds great to me. Except when "happily ever after" means repeating the same story, over and over, with no end, and no choices. Then it starts to look a bit frightening.

INTO THE WILD is hilarious in parts, sad in parts, and surprisingly honest, given that it's about fairy tales. Almost all of your favorite characters are at least mentioned, even if they don't make an appearance. Some of the stories may seem a little different -- these aren't the Disney versions. Not that it's particularly horrible or scary, just something to keep in mind. All in all, a great book. I enjoyed it immensely!

Reviewed by: Carrie Spellman
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fairy tale fans, unite! 24 Mar 2007
By mimagirl - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I love retold fairy tales, mixed up fairy tales, original fairy tales . . . pretty much anything to do with fairy tales. My work in progress is a retelling of a fairytale. Can I just say, I adore fairy tales? So maybe that's why I adored Into the Wild so much.

Julie is caught between two worlds - the world of the Wild and its fairy tale stories, and the real world where giants, witches and talking mirrors don't exist. You see, her mother is Zel, a.k.a. Rapunzel. And for a junior high school girl who wants to fit in and be normal, that can create complications.

All of the story-book characters (Goldilocks, the Seven Dwarves, etc.) escaped from the Wild years ago. The Wild is a bad place for them, a place where they are forced to reenact their tales over and over. But when the Wild is let loose into the real world and begins taking over the lives of both the fairy tale characters and ordinary people, it's up to Julie - someone who knows more about the Wild than other people, but who also doesn't have a story that she'll be caught in - to find the solution to their problems.

Into the Wild is a fantastic story with a spunky main character and a fast-paced plot. The author weaves all of the well-known fairy tales into her book with an ease and clarity that makes the reading of the book a delight. Highly recommended for anyone who loves fairy tales, or is just in need of a good story.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WILD ABOUT THE WILD! 26 Jan 2008
By Linda Joy Singleton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
INTO THE WILD is a delightful blend of classic fairytale and thrilling realistic adventure. Julie is a typical teen except her mother is Rapunzel, her brother is Puss n' Boots with an attitude and her grandmother is literally a witch. I loved all the characters and enjoyed the wicked twists on fairytales.

I totally recommend this series to anyone who appreciates the magic of a brilliantly crafted story with funtastic characters. I'm glad to hear there's another book coming out from Sarah Beth Durst. I can't wait to read more about THE WILD. I give this book five stars PLUS. Excellent!
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