Into the Wild / Out of the Wild

cover image for Into the Wildcover image for Out of the Wild


Durst, S. B. (2007) Into the Wild.  New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers.

Durst, S. B. (2008) Out of the Wild.  New York, NY: Penguin Young Readers.


Julie Marchen lives in Northboro, Massachussetts with her mother, Zel, and her brother, Puss.  As it weren’t weird enough having a cat for a brother and a fairy tale heroine for a mom, Julie also has to contend with an actual monster trapped under her bed.  And then there’s junior high.  But Julie soon has even more problems on her hands, for somehow the Wild has escaped – and is now threatening to swallow up all of Northboro.

At first glance, Into the Wild appears to be another fractured fairy tale, but not long into the story, one realizes that is is also a story about fairy tales – fractured and otherwise. The Wild that lives under Julie’s bed is not just a fairy tale monster, it is the fairy tales – or rather the force that keeps them going. When a wish allows the Wild to escape and grow once more, the people that wander into it – or are swallowed up by it – act out the plots of various tales – over and over again.   When Julie herself ventures into the Wild in order to save loved ones, the fairy tales become traps that Julie must avoid, for if she does she will forget herself and her mission.   Eventually she realizes that the trick is not to avoid them altogether, but to pick and choose among and them and to refuse to belong to any single one.

Into the Wild is a fun, fantastical adventure story that will appeal most especially to tweens that love stories and reading and who will delight in all the “ah ha!” moments and commentary about the power of myth and self-determination that Durst has woven throughout her tale.

Out of the Wild is the sequel, and it’s hard to describe much of the plot without giving away the ending of the first.  What I will say is that it’s about Julie’s father, who has been trapped in the Wild since before she was born.  Out of the Wild was engaging, but not as strong as the first in the series.  The literary commentary was not as intriguing and it felt like the romance between Julie and newcomer Henry was a bit forced.

Best for ages 8-13

Awards and Reviews: 2007 Andre Norton Award Finalist (Into the Wild)

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