Warriors series book one: Into the Wild by Erin Hunter
No middle grade/juvenile series has brought me as much continuing joy over the years than the Warriors series by the collective Erin Hunter. Even if you’ve never been a big fan of the animal fiction genre, you should give Warriors a try for its fact-paced action, tense, mounting conflicts, and fierce, lovable characters.
The Warriors series is rather like Watership Down, in that it portrays groups of feral cats as exactly that and from there forms a society of noble and vicious fighters around the biological and behavioral differences between different breeds of cat. RiverClan is full of swimming cats who primarily fish to feed themselves; WindClan has the fastest, leanest cats who can easily chase down rabbits on a prairie. ShadowClan are smaller, sneakier cats who are the quietest hunters and most ruthless fighters, while ThunderClan has many heavy-set forest cats who can both track through the undergrowth and snatch a bird from between the tree roots. Though Obvious Antagonist Clan and Obvious Hero Clan are indeed obvious, the constantly shifting inter- and intra-clan politics make each Clan sympathetic in the end. The reader can also easily determine which style of clan life would suit them, regardless of the fact that the story for each six-book main Warriors series is always based in ThunderClan. (For those who are already fans and wondering, I would be best suited for RiverClan, definitely. Or SkyClan, if that option was available.)
With a total of five main series (all with a single continuing plot and family line), one prequel series, nine Super Edition stand-alone books, guides, manga, and digital novellas galore, Warriors offers readers a massive, sprawling universe filled with dozens of important cats, vicious, bloody epics, and enough star-crossed love to last a lifetime. It’s absolutely a lot to keep track of, a ton to unpack, and even more to obsess over if you find yourself a fan of animal fiction with high stakes and a low barrier of entry.
Start here, with Into the Wild, and you’ll shortly see what all the caterwauling is about.