Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
Published September 1, 1998 by Dial Press Trade Paperback
Genres Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
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, 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 turns off 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.
This book starts out in present day 1998, where Nell has found a notebook to write in. The book is told from her perspective and although there are sometimes dividers between paragraphs, there are no chapters. Nell tells the backstory to how they got to the point of being orphans in their home in the woods with no electricity or running water by telling brief background stories. Fair warning, there is really no action in this book and it is very slow paced. After about 50 pages, Nell has explained their background of living in the woods, what has happened to their parents and how their life was before the power went off and the grid basically collapsed. Then we watch as the sisters try to figure out how to survive when most of their resources are gone and how to maintain their relationship when other people come into the picture or when conflict arises.
I did enjoy this book; I love post-apocalyptic books but this is much different from any I have read in the past. As I said, the pace is very slow and there really isn’t much action. A lot of the book is just the sisters lives day to day learning to survive and live with each other. The reason for the 3 star rating instead of 4 stars, are a couple different things. First, the beginning in very, very slow and I imagine a lot of people would simply put the book down and stop reading. Second, there is a brief moment of incest later in the book that just really didn’t need to happen. And the relationship and events that occur towards the end of the book just get a little uncomfortable or at least they did for me. I did however, really like the ending of the book and thought it was not only good closure for the book but that Nell and Eva also finally figured out their relationship as sisters. Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it for anyone who is a fan of dystopian or post-apoplectic books, just don’t expect much to happen for at least the first 50 pages, but just try and be patient. Happy reading!