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on 18 February 2013
It's strange to think that, under the right conditions, humans can revert back to the wild state our ancestors worked so hard to detach civilised society from. After all, we still have the tools; keen eyesight and hearing, a decent sense of smell and a predators' ability to problem solve, we just fail to utilise them, or simply employ them in different ways. And regressing to the wild-side is exactly what happens in Into That Forest; stranded in the Tasmanian wilderness, two young girls, Hannah and Becky, are adopted by a pair of Tasmanian tigers and spend the subsequent four years learning to hunt, read the outback and generally live as wild animals.

As the girls integrate themselves with their new parents, they lose the use of English, instead opting to employ the grunts, snarls and body language of the tigers. They also disregard their clothes and reject the two-limbed approach to running. The harsh realities of the wilderness also start to stimulate the girls' animal instincts; they begin to give into the passion of the hunt and even develop a taste for warm blood and raw flesh ‒ there are no punches pulled here, this is a full and, at times, brutal transformation.

The book is narrated from the perspective of a seventy-six-year-old version of Hannah (in a slightly non-standard English) as she looks back on her time with the tigers. However, this doesn't take away from the deeply absorbing plot, far from it. The events are described in such a way that a subtle sense of foreboding begins to infiltrate the text, and this foreboding is realised in a series of heart-wrenching events beginning around the book's halfway point, and culminating in the devastatingly effective ending.

A central theme is the concept of wilderness, or, more specifically, the question: once the wilderness is inside you, can you ever truly leave it behind? But there are other themes at play too, perhaps most notably the effect of loss (Hannah loses her parents early on and the tigers adopt the girls having been robbed of their own cubs) and these themes intertwine wonderfully, inferring the novel's ultimate question: if you lose something precious, would you want it back even if it's changed?

Often with a novel like this, it's the portrayal of the animals that can be the let down ‒ they can be too Disney-fied, stifling the immersive effect of the prose no matter how good the writing. But that's just not the case with Into That Forest; the tigers (Hannah names them Dave and Corinna) bite the girls when they don't like something they're doing, viciously establish a precise feeding order, and, when another male tiger arrives on the scene, battle commences over mating rights with Corinna. It's a wonderful account of predatory life and contains some beautifully written, intimate moments which are all the more touching because of the savagery surrounding them.

The final thing to say about Into That Forest is that the text is interspersed with the occasional illustration. Joe McLaren's drawings are beautifully subtle, and mirror the powerful effect of the sublime and deceptively simplistic writing. Together, both text and illustration ensure that thoughts of Hannah, Becky and the tigers will linger in your mind for days after you've finished the novel, probably much longer.
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on 6 January 2013
'Into That Forest' was a wonderful book, unlike anything else I've ever read before. The story takes the reader on an incredible journey through the Tasmanian outback with friends Hannah and Becky. Thoughts of this book lingered with me long after turning the final page and I'm looking forward to passing it onto others who haven't yet discovered such an amazing title.

The story is narrated by seventy-six year old Hannah, who is looking back on her early life. Nothing could prepare me for the tale she would have to tell of surviving in the wilderness with her friend Becky and two Tasmanian tigers, who she names Dave and Corinna. Not only do the girls survive but in their own way they adapt and flourish in their new environment. They become like tigers themselves, moving on all fours and shedding their human clothes, as well as taking part in the hunt for fresh meat. Isolated from contact with any other human being, they begin to forget their previous existence and become happy with their new lives.

Everything changes however when they realise that the hunters have now become the hunted. Two men are seemingly intent on capturing them and rescuing them from the tigers, but the girls do not want to return to civilisation and a new struggle ensues.

Louis Nowra depicts both the horror and the beauty of life in the outback. I enjoyed seeing how the girls adapted to life with the tigers and even began to see them as their new mother and father. The tigers in return adopt them as their own, surrogate daughters instead of the cubs which they are brutally robbed of. There's a sense of freedom throughout the first half of the book as the girls run wild, their senses sharpening as they become accustomed to the sights, sounds and smells around them. There are some wonderfully descriptive passages of them both curled up next to the tigers for warmth, as well as enjoying the taste of fresh meat and hot blood.

The ending is devastating but beautifully told and the perfect conclusion to an outstanding read. I hope that readers who wouldn't normally pick up a book like this are encouraged to give it a try because 'Into That Forest' is a story which deserves to be read
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on 9 February 2015
This is a fabulous story. I was completely smitten, I felt I was with them every inch of the journey. I have given this to my year 7 book club to read. We meet this week, I know some of them have struggled with the language, but I hope they have pushed through and accepted the challenge.
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on 25 November 2013
I enjoyed the story immensely it had all the elements of a factual account but was a novel it I'd amazing how many species have been wiped from this planet through our ignorance however looked on the Internet at some footage from Tasmania from 2012 of what can only be a tasmanian tiger walking slowly up a hillside maybe just maybe they are not all dead yet.
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on 7 December 2015
This was recommended to me by a young friend who enthused so much that I bought it on kindle straight away. I was not disappointed. A difficult story to read sometimes but the characters developed so much that I was sad to reach the end. I wanted to know more about life in Tasmania and the strange animals that lived there, including some humans it seemed! Great story telling with an anthropological twist.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 September 2013
4.5 stars.

At age 6 and 7, Hannah and Rebecca are nearly drowned in a storm. Hannah's parents are both killed, the girls rescued by Tasmanian tigers. This is the story of how they spend the next four years of their lives with two tigers in the wilds of Australia.

An adult and elderly Hannah narrates her story, her grasp of English weakened by her lack of exposure to other humans at a crucial time in her development, we come to understand.

There have been lots of books and films exploring the 'child brought up by animals/in the wild' scenario, but previous few I can name (none actually) that cover the child's point of view.

It's a fascinating story, how the girls communicate with their foster parents, how they change, one faster than the other, and how it all ends.

It's also a very sad story ultimately, with a return to civilisation the way we know it will go, but not a pleasant one.

Lovely writing, original idea.
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on 18 July 2016
Weird is how I would best describe this outback story based in Tasmania. Two girls go missing after a family accident in a storm. They are rescued and befriended by Tassie tigers and for the next 4 years spend their life as tigers, so when they return to "civilisation" they obviously have problems adjusting.

Hannah is deemed a bad influence on Becky and sent away on the whalers but when she returns some time later finds that Becky has run away from her school and is missing. The final scenes whilst predictable are the most poignant. The story is told by Hannah in a type of patois.

Nothing like Boy in the Striped Pyjamas or even Life of Pi it is very graphic in its never ending descriptions of tearing animals apart and all the blood that goes with it. Not what I consider a young persons read - not that I think they'd want to read it anyway. I found myself skipping some of the interminable gory descriptions.
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on 27 February 2015
I read this book as part of my book club and I can definitely say that I have never read anything like it before. This book is written from the view of Hannah, who is a seventy six year old lady, as she recounts her childhood of living and surviving with the tigers (who she calls Dave and Corinna). This book was thought provoking and I felt attached to the characters throughout the plot. However, there was some parts during it that were slow especially in the middle. The ending itself was very good and full of emotion but in my opinion it was quite abrupt.
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on 8 September 2013
Oh my, what a read! It took me a couple of pages to adapt to the style of writing but once I got used to it I didn't notice it. Such a beautiful story, very eye opening and emotional. I feel like it's changed a part of me forever.
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on 1 September 2013
This really is a strange and beautiful book, and I found it utterly captivating. It's an extraordinary story but it never at any point felt unbelievable. The voice of the main character was a little distracting at times but felt very authentic. The narrative built up such a sense of freedom and wildness and wonder in the first half, and then the second half was devastating. Beautiful and heartbreaking all at once. Not one for readers under the age of ten who might find the descriptions of hunting and eating raw meat upsetting, but for all others it's an absolute must-read. It should definitely go on to become a classic.
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