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Into the Forest

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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, and several miles away from their nearest neighbor, 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 runs out 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.

Reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's A Handmaid's Tale, Into the Forest is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking novel of hope and despair set in a frighteningly plausible near-future America.

243 pages, Paperback

First published August 18, 1996

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About the author

Jean Hegland

11 books199 followers
Jean Hegland's first novel, INTO THE FOREST, has been translated into eleven languages and is a frequent choice for campus- and community-wide reading programs. A film version starring Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood is scheduled for release in spring 2015. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY promises her second novel, WINDFALLS, is “a good prospect for reading groups.” Excerpts from her non-fiction work, THE LIFE WITHIN: CELEBRATION OF A PREGNANCY, have appeared in a junior high school science textbook, a college English textbook, and a guided journal for pregnant women. STILL TIME, her most recent novel, celebrates the work of William Shakespeare while taking a hopeful look at the harrowing challenges of dementia. Jean is a frequent presenter at writers' conferences and has taught creative writing for many years, both in California and abroad. She lives in the Northern Californian woods where she is always at work on another book.

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5 stars
3,991 (28%)
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3 stars
3,318 (23%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,775 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,968 reviews170k followers
September 1, 2018
this is definitely a novel.

i mean, i never thought it was a true story, but i just want to emphasize that decisions characters make in this book are very much suitable for literary purposes; they provide dramatic tension and character development and a story arc, but as far as practical decision-making goes, these sisters fall a little short.

and there was a period when i thought, "hey - these girls finally have it together and are taking real steps towards their own survival," only to modify that somewhat later to, "oh, these characters are making decisions that will have literary appeal and dramatic heft.

which is fine, but i would suggest a different book if you are looking for survival tips.

and the irony is that at one point, a character does something and then decides not to do it after all (i sacrifice details to slyly avoid spoilers) and i thought "d'oh - you scared little bunny! don't let emotions get in the way of doing the bold and sensible thing!" but then later - in the final act, she has a chance to essentially make the same decision, albeit more conclusive, and even though i had rooted for her to , i didn't want her to when there is now with only to go . the decision is the same: , but the circumstances are totally different:

did i mention that there was because there is. bad decision number two, in my opinion.this is what i mean by literary - it is all well and good to have this idyllic scenario, but whatever your politics

and i am not selling this book right now, am i? i really liked it - i thought it was terrific. but when something nags at my mind, it is as though it is the only thing i can see, and i am like a puppy with a stick. now i have splintered the book for you. but it is splintered with love. tough tough love.

it is a great story of sisterhood and mental survival to changed circumstances. but if you read a lot of survival literature, you can't help but worry about these girls and their future among the living.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Lisa Vegan.
2,734 reviews1,200 followers
February 7, 2019
This became one of my favorite books as soon as I read it; I was totally immersed while reading and continue to dwell on this book. I almost gave it 4 vs. 5 stars though, because I “didn’t like” the end. But, I realize, it’s not that I thought the end was poorly done; it was just difficult for me to agree with aspects of the decisions made. The fact that certain happenings were so painful for me, shows how powerful this book seemed to me. This is a beautifully told story about 2 sisters who must fend for themselves in a world where civilization has broken down. Suspenseful and heartwarming. Does make one think about relationships, what’s important in life, and how much courage one would have if faced with similar circumstances.
Profile Image for jtabz.
97 reviews8 followers
December 28, 2008
Where to start?

First off, I was a bit irritated by the implausibility of the characters' transformations from civilized girls to wild women. After reading The Omnivores Dilemma just a couple months ago, it was hard not to scoff at, say, the pig-hunting episode, or the "I'm gonna teach myself how to shoot a rifle today!" episode, or the ease with which the girls begin identifying edible plants in their yard with nothing but the help of a poorly illustrated field guide.

But the real death knell for me were the feminist themes that start as subtle overtones and evolve into heavy-handed garbledygoop. ("She wondered what was worse: a bear or a man." Ugh.) This is particularly frustrating because, in order to imagine her feminist pagan utopia, Hegland feels the need to "evolve" the sisters along traditional gender lines, with one receding into the standard female role while the other 'rises' to the occasion to become the provider, hunter, problem solver.

Margaret Atwood she ain't.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Allison.
712 reviews407 followers
July 28, 2009
This book is weird.

For the first 100 pages or so, I loved loved LOVED the story. Its a scary portrayal of the breakdown of America...and the story of a family that lives out in the middle of nowhere, right on the edge of a forest. They end up having to survive on some canned food they harvested from their garden. The dystopian aspect of the story is captivating, horrifying, and poignant. Basically...it half scared the crap out of me, and half made me want to dance around my house hugging everything from my clean socks to the light switches.

Then, the characters take over the book, and it is downhill from there. The only character I liked was the father, because he was hilarious. Once he died, I wasn't a huge fan of the story. The two sisters never grew on me, and...I don't know. Their personalities were both just WEIRD. I imagine that the way they acted would probably be somewhat realistic if you really did lose all the things we take for granted, but still...they just didn't captivate me like the background of the story did. Especially when they "made love." (Sorry for the spoiler, but I sure wish someone had warned me about it.)

So the portrayal of a dystopian America gets 5 stars...and the characters get nil. I compromised and gave the book 3 stars. I still recommend picking it up though, because its pretty short and the story's backdrop is fascinating.

Update: okay, nevermind. I'm changing the rating to 2 stars, hehe.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Mariel.
667 reviews1,041 followers
April 4, 2011
Into the Forest was a random book find. I picked it off the shelves and decided it sounded like something my sister would like. Two young sisters hiding from the rest of their post apocolyptic world that is rapidly become further rings of apocolyptic mess, learning to survive and make a new world out of the old. I, um, pretty much talked her into buying a book that I kinda wanted to read. (I'm sneaky that way.)

Lauren devoured it in one sitting. I did the same, but in my case it turned into more wanting to get it over with so I can start another book if and when they finally arrive in the mail.
We had one of our long book talks about something one of us has read. I love those talks. She told me most of it (it would be churlish of me to complain. My spoilage ratio is infinitely higher than hers. I could move to L.A., start a detective agency, and still never make up for the book souls I have stolen from her). I wish I had stuck with her retelling than reading it because now I'm feeling disturbed and restless. Kinda pissed off. Laur, we are going to have some more words. (Don't you just hate Eva? She's a pod person!)

By the way, the book jacket liessssssss. They don't create anything. Eva lives in her self-obsessed dreams of ballet. She would doubtlessly have perished without her sister to take care of her (ahem hover in an annoyingly well meaning kinda way in fruitless hopes it would ever be reciprocated). Nell talks the talk about wanting companionship, holding the torch of all the ideas that came before (when the world was a world of more than the two of them). She just wants to own facts, I think, like those encyclopedia entries she attempts to memorize, or her sister's time. The only walk she'd do is two giant steps behind Eva.

The apocolypse is neither here nor there. The girls live in the forest. It's rare that it touches their fringes. Their hell is the waiting room variety. Worrying where your next meal is going to come from (Nell) and no dreams (Eva). When the worrying becomes action a new worry about not being needed enough takes its place.
Eva dances without music. It's a pointlessly feverish dream like if someone lost their legs and can still feel them. What the hell is she expressing anyway? She wants to be great, but c'mon it isn't going to happen. There is no one to see her dance. She has no emotions to express, other than her own desire to be "great". She may as well wear a wedding dress or put on outfits for parties she's never going to go to. I felt that Hegland tried to hard with the rotten dreams of Eva. Being "great" doesn't really mean anything. Sure, I could write here right now that I performed an awesome John Lennon frog legs dance. If you can't see me doing it what does it matter? Applause, please! I could write about some story I plan to write that no one will ever read, as Nell does, that doesn't even do anything for me. Pity, please! Eye rolls.

Nell has been desirous of a life and company before there was an unnamed apocolypse (this is like The Road misery. The hows and whys don't come into it). Life with the fam was always like how it must be for a dog. It's cute when people want it and then it's a pat on the head and on your way when they have other things to do. Maybe dress up time in cute outfits when an ego needs to be stroked (pets who look like their owners pageant day?). The shit was shit before the shit went down.

I'm disturbed that Nell NEVER gets past this dog wagging. Look, I brought you your slippers! Please notice me! The mom says "You're your own person" repeatedly. They should have let her go to school and be around other kids. It wasn't fair to keep the dog - whoops, I mean girl- in their wings in case they wanted her around. The point of the book was kinda bullshit because in the end Nell is still just collecting facts and cowtowing to her sister. How is that creating anything? It's the meaninglessness of Eva's dancing. What exactly is it expressing? Some pretty vague concepts about what ifs the luxuries were over. But these are PEOPLE in the story not what ifs. Food does change as it is spoiling...

Eva has a baby after she is raped. She just doesn't want Nell to have anything to do with him. Nell wants to have a claim on someone and gives. They take and that's that. Someone on amazon wrote that they grow up and finally leave the house they lived in. They burn it out of fear of the rapist returning. It had nothing to do with growing up. Nell still goes with Eva into the forest where she'll continue to take care of the person who would never care enough to set the boundaries in the first place. Ugh. A book about enablers? Eva's addiction would be herself.

Jean Hegland and I are going to have words. "You're your own person" my ass. Nell never learned any such thing. Writing that and it being true are not the same thing. None of the above would have been a detriment if "You're your own person" wasn't written so many damned times. They lived outside every day life, right? But their own needs became the routine, the every day life. You don't get to call no society forever. Nell had the chance to BE her own person, away from Eva, and she did not take it. She stays in the same spot. Not her own person. Bullshit ending. Maybe I'll go through my (um my sister's) copy with a highlighter and scratch out every time "You're your own person" is written.

P.s. Lauren gave this five stars even though she didn't agree with the ending. I knew the ending was coming because she told me. That threw the whole other book in a light that it was not going to be going anywhere than where it already was. Why did I read it then? I don't know. I was hoping the rottenness was gonna be the fascinating kind, I guess. The kind that takes on other rotten shapes.
Profile Image for Carrie.
312 reviews5 followers
April 9, 2008
Finally! This book was a burden to get through... Now that I'm done, I feel as if I've stepped out from the shadow of a dark cloud. Now I wonder, was it really worth finishing? The language was descriptive and precise, but the tone was very depressing. And, it contained some of the most offensive material I've ever read or seen. I'm even horrified to repeat it. Graphic sex is one thing, but this book has a scene where two sisters "make love". That goes far beyond crossing the line. It makes me want to throw up and then wash my ears out with soap (Audiobook version).
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Bren fall in love with the sea..
1,536 reviews259 followers
March 4, 2020
“I never knew how much we consumed. It seems as if we are all appetite, as if a human being is simply a bundle of needs to drain the world. It's no wonder there are wars, no wonder the earth and water and air are polluted. It's no wonder the economy collapsed, if Eva and I use so much merely to stay alive.”
― Jean Hegland, Into the Forest



Review edited for content and spelling. Written awhile ago.

Book club read.

DNF.

I so wish I had been able to enjoy this book and I do feel elements of it were lovely. I actually changed my rating from a two to a three. This is one that just did not work for me at that time.

In fact, I stopped about a quarter of the way in. It is a Dystopian book about two sisters basically facing the end of the world..or at least the end of the world as they in fact know it.

There are some rather strange happenings and a rather dreary feeling throughout. This was an odd read I must say but I could not get into the book no matter how I tried. And I did try.

Most of the people in my book club enjoyed this and it really does come down to personal tastes. Some books are just poorly written but this really is not. For me, the element of gloom felt throughout the book, was simply not for me and the pacing was not to my liking either. At the end of the day, I have read so many books in this genre that I am a bit tired out on it as we ll.

What I did like was the love the two sisters felt for each other. And the exquisite, almost other worldly cover art. But it had some strange happenings (anyone who has read this will know what I mean) that also turned me off.

I would give this three stars.
9 reviews
June 24, 2017
Spoilers ahead!

I didn't like this book, I'll just get that out of the way. I had to read it for a class on the Apocalypse in American Literature, which was probably one of my favorite classes that I've taken thus far in college. After hearing about the basic themes of the book, essentially 2 sisters in the middle of nowhere trying to survive after some sort of war or peak oil situation (it's never clear what's going on exactly) essentially shuts down civilization as we know it, I was expecting to like it. I was hoping to like it. I was wrong.

While I can appreciate what the author was trying to accomplish, setting a (post)apocalyptic story in a place far away from society, as opposed to in the middle of a city where the end of civilization is much more obvious, it was handled clumsily. The prose, while it does have a few good lines, is for the most part overwrought and sometimes even seems full of itself. While I can understand that the story is supposed to be the journal of a booksmart 17-18 year old, it was hard to stand it for an entire novel. The way that the sisters are able to suddenly discover and develop wilderness survival skills on their own with nothing but the help of a dry plant identification book is just silly, and the ending, where they decide to burn their (admittedly already falling apart) house down and go live in the woods is hopelessly immature and doesn't seem to be that well thought out considering the rest of the book is trying to subvert the kind of hopelessly optimistic fairy tale narrative that it turns into.

The book is marketed as having some sort of amazing, touching relationship between the sisters. Yeah well, no. Not at all. One sister spends pretty much the entire novel practicing ballet off by herself while the other, the narrator, does almost nothing but read the encyclopedia and occasionally harvest plants. As far as I remember the only time they really bond is when they decide to split one of their last bottles of alcohol and get drunk together. Oh, wait, and then there's the sex scene. Basically, after the ballet dancing sister gets raped by a plot device that never really shows up again, she's understandably disturbed and shellshocked for a while. And apparently the best way to get over rape is to have incestuous lesbian sex. Granted, the scene isn't graphic at all, it's pretty much limited to one line, something like "And then we made love, my sister and I." I don't have a problem with the lesbianism or the incest, I mean hell, it's a NOVEL. But it's just such a random event. It's never even really mentioned again after it happens and overall it just really doesn't make any sense.

I could go on, nitpicking this book to death, but I think just covering some of the main problems it has is more than enough.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Lala BooksandLala.
499 reviews60.1k followers
July 1, 2015
My final rating is a 4.5/5, only a few slight things took away from this being a perfect novel for me. It 100% appealed to my earth mama senses and while slower on action and dialogue than I was expecting, I didn't get bored once.
Profile Image for Lisa.
1,379 reviews518 followers
March 16, 2022
This novel was a wonderful surprise! It has been gathering dust on my shelf for years and I'm so glad I finally read it. (I ended up listening to the excellent audiobook.) Two sisters fight to survive after the nation has been thrust into darkness. Written as journal entries by 17-year-old Nell, it is much more than a survival story. It is a beautifully written exploration of two young women figuring out who they are and what matters to them as they struggle with their relationship. Propulsive and poetic, I found it so refreshing - not at all sensationalistic.
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,406 reviews534 followers
October 8, 2009
Nell and Eve are precocious teenagers living with their anti-establishment parents in the middle of a redwood forest. Their contact with the outside world is sporadic, so it takes them a while to realize that civilization is crumbling around them. Hegland is vague about the reasons--a far-off war, new strains of disease, terrorist attacks on US soil. (She wrote this in 1996, when all of this was less hackneyed.) But after a few seasons of this, the family is left without electricity, internet, telephones, mail, or gas. They are stranded in the woods, with nothing and no one to rely upon but themselves.

It sounds much more interesting than it is. The story is told through Nell's POV, and it would be hard to craft a generic character. Her sister Eve has a bit more personality, but that personality is so broadly drawn that it's hard to give much credit. Although the girls are alone with each other for most of the story, their relationship has only the trappings of intimacy, and none of the depth of it. This book has all the emotional intensity of a school essay--and reads like one, too.

OK, so the characters and emotional life are a bit lacking--surely their methods of survival would make up for it? Alas, no. Hegland is as vague about how to can or make acorn flour as she is on the intricacies of the girls' relationship. It's all very thinly sketched.

If you want to read about surviving amidst the ruins of Western civilization, I'd recommend reading how i live now or Parable of the Sower, or heck, even Hatchet before bothering with this. It's not a bad book--but it's not a good one.
Profile Image for Angie.
3,620 reviews43 followers
January 30, 2011
I am a fan of apocalyptic fiction, and this one started out ok; unfortunately, it ended really poorly. I liked the fact that the sisters were isolated. And I actually think there reactions to the end of the world as they know it is probably how a lot of people would react - with a bit a denial and an unreasonable hope that things will get better soon.

I found the characters pretty unlikeable however. Both Eve and Nell were naive and ignorant in their own ways. This made them fairly true to life but not really that interesting to read about. Nell, the heroine of the story, was of course the more interesting one, but even she had her moments. Their constant bickering and jealousy of each other quickly became repetitive and tedious.

The first half of the book is pretty slow. It does pick up once they come to grips with their situation a little better, but there are some definite strange parts that could have been left out. I was actually pretty accepting of the book until the very end. I didn't like the book as a whole but I didn't completely dislike up until that point. However, the ending for me ruined the entire thing. Without giving anything major away, the sisters make a decision, which I actually think was the right one for them but they do it is such a spontaneous and poorly planned way that I think dooms them and I can't imagine why they would go about it they way they do. It just ruins all the hard work they just did. Too me it didn't make sense and in a world all about survival it seemed wrong.

This definitely could have been better. I can see why some people like the book, but the weird plot points lost me.
Profile Image for Ginny Messina.
Author 12 books127 followers
November 21, 2007
In this haunting and thought-provoking book, a series of natural disasters and man-made events conspire to bring the U.S. to its knees as the infrastructure gradually begins to falter. Eventually all utilities shut down completely, and without electricity and gas, there is no real news—-just rumors. Stores quickly empty, and desperation and fear set in.

The story focuses on two teenage girls who live about 30 miles from the nearest town in the northern redwood forest of CA. The deaths of their parents leave them completely dependent on each other. At first they sit cozily by the fire, carefully rationing their food, taking an inventory of everything in the house, and waiting for things to return to normal. Even as they begin to grow and preserve their own food, and then develop more aggressive survival skills, they watch their resources dwindle. How incredible to make a decision about when to use the last aspirin or how to use the last can of gas. Or to savor a single Hershey's Kiss, knowing that it may be the last chocolate you will ever taste in your life. It's hard to read this book without feeling like an unappreciative squanderer.

This is an amazing story about survival against all odds and about the gifts of nature, and finally about a much-tested love between sisters. There are some disturbing elements to the story and I haven't quite decided whether it ends on a depressing note or one of triumph. But it is a very compelling read.
Profile Image for Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile.
2,020 reviews576 followers
May 13, 2015
This book was SO good until about halfway when the author made it get extremely weird. Besides the very disturbing parts, the ending was terrible as well.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,935 followers
May 16, 2012
By its very nature the beautiful is isolated from everything else.
From beauty no road leads to reality.
~Hannah Arendt

I waited for over a year to read Into the Forest. In that frame of time, I had imagined this idea in my head of a book filled with controversy and chaos. The reality of what this book was never crossed paths with what I had imagined. It was far better.

This story takes place in a post-apocalyptic time but it is not a post-apocalyptic book. This story features an act of incest (very brief - blink and you'll miss it) but it is not a book featuring an incestuous relationship. For everything that I thought Into the Forest would be, I realized that I was wrong. Very rarely am I glad to be wrong.

If the last book I'd read was bright lights and noise, then this book would surely be dark and quiet. Make no mistake though. Quiet can be beautiful.

The beauty was in the details. Heavy world building was not needed, for our characters lived in a world of solitude, away from the rest of a population in ruin. Survival and perseverance were the core values at the center of this world. If reading about day-to-day existence would not interest you, then this might not be a book you'd appreciate, which is fine. For me, I devoured this story in almost one sitting. As a child, I loved the Little House books. My favorites being Little House in the Big Woods and The Long Winter, the common thread between those two stories being the elements of day-to-day survival and finding the means to care for oneself with limited resources. I also had fascination with Claire's use of plants for medicinal purposes in the book Outlander, which is also a part of what happens in this particular tale.

For the two sisters of Into the Forest, the journey was rough. They leaned on one another to make it through. As of now, their future is wide open. I did not mind the open ending but I'm not sure if I would have made the same decision that they did. I guess it's good that I'm not trying to survive out in a world where every man fends for themselves.

This book was beautifully written in the form of one long and personal reflection. There are no chapter breaks but I didn't seem to mind that. The first few sections did have a bit more "retelling" than I cared to know about but the last half of the book was enthralling. Even though I know that this type of story won't be for everyone, I'm so glad that I took the time. It was worth the wait.
Profile Image for Julie.
Author 6 books1,664 followers
December 29, 2009
A poignant, sensual and carefully written book that will remain quietly in my mind for a long time to come. What strikes me, why I gave it a fifth star, is how it has remained relevant, fresh, shocking and provoking fifteen years after it was written. The United States in 2010 is closer to the brink than Ms Hegland envisioned in 1995; it is not much of a stretch to imagine a country that simply can't afford to pay its bills, where civil war erupts between political parties, where disease cannot be halted by technical innovation.

But this story holds the outside world at bay; we have only vague notion of the collapse of modern society outside the northern California forest where two sisters in their late teens struggle to survive. Living with their parents in a home 30 miles from the nearest town, home-schooled and pursuing solitary passions, Eva and Nell are accustomed to isolation. But as their connections to society are severed and as society dies away, the sisters are forced to become pioneers on their own land, guardians of their homestead and safety.

What Hegland does so skillfully is to convey the diminution of the girls' physical impact as the natural world seeks to reclaim her ground, yet also the strengthening of their characters and bodies as they are forced to work for their survival. Their belongings slowly compost along with their sense of time, their ambitions, and their childhood.

There are scenes of horror, violence and passion that will make the reader wince, but they are rendered with great intelligence and beauty. There is also great hope and wisdom embodied in these two girls who become father, mother, lover and protector in the months that we are allowed into their world. This is not an easy novel to set aside and one that will be impossible to forget.

Profile Image for Mathilde.
726 reviews154 followers
February 18, 2020
J'entends tellement parler de ce roman, encore plus avec la parution de l'album dessiné, curieuse comme je suis, et le fait que ce soit un Gallmeister, j'avais une grande envie de me faire ma propre opinion.

Dès les premières lignes, j'ai été happée par l'histoire de ces sœurs qui se retrouvent à devoir se débrouiller seules et sans électricité et par la narration, le noël qu'elles vivent m'a touchée, surtout que je le lisais justement à la période de Noël.

Nous nous posons de nombreuses questions, que c'est il passé ? Comment en est-on arrivé là ? Comment elles, en sont arrivées là ? Toutes les réponses ne nous serons pas données, à nous de nous faire notre propre interprétation, mais l'on comprend par nous au travers de leurs récits.

À travers le journal de Nell, nous les suivrons sur une longue période pendant laquelle les sœurs se retrouvent livrées à elles-mêmes et réapprennent à vivre avec la nature.

J'ai adoré la simplicité et l'intensité de l'écriture. Il était agréable de lire un roman évoquant la fin du monde en abordant un motif réaliste. Le plus étonnant dans cette lecture, il a été écrit en 1996 !! Il reste terriblement d'actualité, pire, il se pourrait qu'il prenne des airs prémonitoires !

Par contre j'ai eu parfois du mal avec le caractère des deux sœurs, même si je comprends tout à fait (et imagine) qu'après un certain temps dans ces conditions, nos nerfs sont soumis à rude épreuve. L'instinct de survie prend le dessus et les incite à faire des choix que l'on ne penserai jamais prendre.
La fin m'a un peu déconcerté, je ne m'attendais pas du tout à cela.

Cette lecture ne laisse pas indifférente, c'est sûr, elle remue, nous pousse à la réflexion.

plus de chroniques sur http://pause-the.blogspot.com/
Profile Image for Anoud.
474 reviews62 followers
December 18, 2020
The first 100 pages of this book is the best I read in 2020
I was immersed, I wanted to read it when woke up, before sleep, while I was a sleep _ legit I had a dream about reading it_
The writing style was amazing, the post-apocalyptic element was what I was looking for for a while, there but not really explained, ominous, atmospheric, seedy, isolated.
I was calculating _prematurely I might add_ where to cram it in my best of 2020.
Then the rest of the book happen.

I was like

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and the author was like

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so, I ended up not liking it. The whole story shifted from an atmospheric post apocalyptic story to the survival of the stupidest, bummer.
Profile Image for Karen’s Library.
1,038 reviews154 followers
May 12, 2018
I had to think about this book overnight before figuring out what I thought about it. I had just watched the movie and liked it so thought I'd try reading the book.

In this case, I thought the movie was much better than the book!

I liked the book well enough and read the last 75% in one sitting which usually tells me I'm really vested and enjoying it. But a couple of things happened near the end that were disturbing which ruined the book for me. Those parts were NOT in the movie, thank goodness!

The two items were totally unnecessary to the story so they must have been there for shock value.

I would have rated this a high 4, but because of those bizarre scenes, I lowered my rating.
Profile Image for Phu.
539 reviews97 followers
April 30, 2022


We’re surrounded by violence, by anger and danger, as surely as we are surrounded by forest. The forest killed our father, and from that forest will come the man—or men—who will kill us.


Into the Forest bắt đầu từ bối cảnh thế giới bỗng dưng mất đi một thứ quan trọng, là nguồn điện. Ở đâu đó, gia đình của hai chị em Eva và Nellie, sống dưới khu rừng cách biệt với bên ngoài thị trấn.
Và mọi thứ bỗng dưng đến, ban đầu chỉ là những lúc mất điện bình thường, nhưng sau đó nguồn điện đã mất và chẳng trở lại.

Cả hai chị em Eva và Nellie nhớ về quá khứ của họ, và họ chìm đắm trong ước mơ của họ, Eva luyện tập ballet mỗi ngày với mong muốn được biểu diễn trên sân khấu thật, Nell dồn sức cho việc học với mong muốn vào trường Harvard danh giá. Những điều họ cần làm là chờ đợi cho nguồn điện trở lại và đưa ước mơ của họ thành sự thật, nhưng biết bao giờ, bao giờ nguồn điện mới trở lại?

Nếu bạn nào mong đợi những diễn biến xoay quanh thế giới bị mất đi nguồn điện thì Into the Forest chẳng có điều đó. Mọi thứ chỉ vỏn vẹn xoay quanh gia đình của chị em Eva và Nell, nhưng bao nhiêu đó đủ đề mình nhìn ra sự nghiêm trọng của vấn đề. Những gì bên trong và bên ngoài khu rừng đã mang đến cho Eva và Nell quá nhiều đau khổ và liên tiếp thử thách họ, và sau những điều đó ít nhất họ nhận ra rằng họ vẫn có nhau.

Đắm chìm trong những miêu tả về thiên nhiên, câu chuyện khắc họa nên bối cảnh khắc nghiệt về cuộc sống của hai cô gái trẻ đứng trước những thử thách xa lạ và ép buộc họ làm mọi cách để sinh tồn. Mất đi nguồn điện, thứ quan trọng bây giờ họ phải làm thế nào để sống mà không cần nó.
Diẽn biến dôi lúc hơi loạn, nhưng cảm xúc của nó vẫn cảm động, và diễn biến của nó đủ hấp dẫn. Sau tất cả, những gì chờ đợi Eva và Nell vẫn còn mãi, nhưng mình tin rằng chỉ cần hai chị em có nhau thì họ sẽ vượt qua được tất cả.

“What else are sisters for?”
Profile Image for Suzi.
379 reviews
August 1, 2020
While I had difficulty relating to the somewhat mindless main characters in this book and their actions, I found the premise of the slowly crumbling infrastructure of the United States fascinating, especially at a time when I experience frequent internet disruption, drink only bottled water, worry about the consequences of global warming, see schools closing, wear a mask over my face in public and have been quarantined in my house for 5 months due to a world-wide pandemic. I found myself thinking, "Oh my gosh, that could really happen" ... or "Wow, that already IS happening!"… especially when the narrator states, "It's amazing how quickly everyone adapted to the changes. I suppose it's like the way people had already gotten used to having to drink bottled water, drive on overcrowded freeways, and deal with the automated voices that answered almost every telephone. Then, too, they cursed and complained, and soon adjusted, almost forgetting their lives had ever been any other way." At a time when we are all anticipating ‘a new normal, this book is really significant. This is a haunting story that will tap on my shoulder each time a phone call is answered by the automated response, "We're sorry, all lines are busy now. Please hang up and try your call again" ... or when the cable or electricity goes off unexpectedly ... or when banks foreclose and stores file for bankruptcy ... or when newscasters report that antibiotics are becoming ineffective against infection.

It is not out of the realm of possibility that if we continue to live so carelessly, someday we too could be saying, "When I think of how we used to live, the casual way we used things, I'm both appalled and filled with longing. I remember emptying wastebaskets that would seem like fortunes now - baskets filled with the cardboard cores of toilet paper rolls, with used tissues, broken pencils, twisted paper clips, sheets of crumpled notebook paper, and empty plastic bags ..."

What made this book interesting for me is that was written in 1996 and seems even more relevant in 2020.
Profile Image for Louise.
353 reviews35 followers
September 30, 2018
Superbe claque, sensorielle, poétique, brutale et méditative. J'ai déjà été déçue par les romans de retour à la nature forcé (je pense à Le Mur invisible notamment), mais Dans la forêt restera très près de mon coeur et de mes pensées maintenant que je l'ai refermé. La plume de Jean Hegland est superbe, sobre puis lyrique tour à tour, j'ai relu des passages entiers en me répétant "mon dieu c'est comme ça que j'aimerai écrire".
J'ai adoré les thématiques, subtilement tressées entre elles : le deuil, l'instinct de survie, la passion comme échappatoire, la sororité... et puis le mysticisme et l'animisme qui empreignent les pages au fur et à mesure des paragraphes.
Passée les cinquante premières pages où j'ai mis du temps à comprendre le ton général, j'ai été happé par cette magnifique histoire de résilience et de reconnexion à notre animalité.
Très frontalement, j'ai réalisé à quel point j'étais à poil face à un cataclysme de l'ampleur du roman, et ça m'a terrifié. Indirectement, j'ai énormément nourri ma réflexion (bien personnelle) sur mon contact au monde et à la Nature, sur la résonance qu'elle avait en moi et que souvent j'oublie. Indispensable lecture.
Profile Image for Heather.
214 reviews61 followers
September 4, 2019
This one was fraught with aggravatingly passive and naive characters in unrealistic situations. I found myself skimming over entire sections of Nell’s narrative, in a number of places. The fathers’ never ending MacGyver of a workshop was also frustrating - at points. Overall, I am glad that I read it as I was intrigued by the film and found the subject matter fascinating. I liked most of the story, with some head-shakes and guffaws peppered throughout.
Profile Image for Kayla.
331 reviews46 followers
January 18, 2019
4.25/5 This was so beautifully written. It felt so real and harsh but also hopeful. I cried hard two times. I honestly don’t know how to properly organize my thoughts about this book. It’s just really really good. The only reason it’s not 5 stars is because the format this story is told is like writing in a journal and so there are no chapters and I was thrown off at first because I didn’t know when to pause.

Profile Image for Laura.
443 reviews16 followers
January 12, 2016
Ok. Real talk.

This book? Mainly horse shit.
In a way, I guess it's a more realistic look at what a post-apocalyptic world would look like for a family that was already pretty much living off the grid. Nell cans tomatoes. Nell learns how to kill a pig. All, conveniently, by reading encyclopedias that are in the house.

BUT COME ON.
AS IF. I am as if-ing all over this book.

Eli? You batted your lashes at this boy for a hot minute over a flask in a shady square and all of a sudden you're pining for him? Bish please. He just randomly hikes out to your house? Swipes your v-card and then you continue the dirty but magically don't get pregnant? You're willing to hike across the country for this fool and leave your sister behind all alone? Nell needs a hi-5. In the face. With a chair.

Also? The rape? And the subsequent rape-baby? I can't even.

This my friends, is the danger of home-schooling your children and isolating them from the real world. They may initially survive the demise of the world as we know it but will make insufferable decisions and, in the real world, would have been dead by the third chapter.

ALL of that being said, this book has a lot of beautiful writing in it. I just didn't have the energy to read four paragraphs eloquently describing how to can fruit. I guess if a book makes you feel things, there's something to be said- and this book generally makes me angry. I cared enough to finish it, and to want to drift it across the room when I was finished.

The end.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Aurélia.
190 reviews34 followers
March 21, 2018
C'est possible de mettre plus de 5 étoiles ?

Je tiens là mon premier coup de coeur de l'année. Ce livre est d'une puissance incroyable. L'écriture est superbe, et nous emporte dans ce monde qui est quasi à portée de mains, si nous continuons sur ce chemin avec nos œillères. Nous sommes dans un monde détruit, l'électricité ne fonctionne plus, les épidémies se développent, la méfiance règne : ce contexte apparaît en filigrane, mais là n'est pas l'essentiel. L'essentiel, c'est le quotidien rapporté par Nell, les événements qui se produisent, la relation entre les deux soeurs. Et la question en filigrane : aurons-nous l'intelligence et l'instinct pour survivre dans un climat hostile, comme le font ces deux jeunes filles ? Réussirons-nous à nous battre ? Saurons-nous nous réadapter à la nature ?

C'est un livre intelligent, qui donne matière à réflexion, qui a suscité chez moi l'envie de m'acheter des livres pour reconnaitre les plantes comestibles et à avoir un potager afin de vivre en auto-suffisance. Plus que jamais, il est temps de faire des efforts pour le monde de demain.
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,091 reviews132 followers
June 19, 2021
Nell and Eva are homeschooled teenage sisters, now orphaned in their forest home after some societal collapse has occurred. The cause is never known and most of the book follows the sisters survival. For me the book never hit the spot. A bit too much YA perhaps and I didn’t like either of the girls all that much particularly Eva. She’s a ballerina before the electricity goes and after, all she does is dance. Okay she thought that’d be her life so I could understand it for a while but it goes on for ages . It was convenient their father had stockpiled so much. Perhaps I’ve read too many other dystopias, I kept thinking of The Road, that seems a much more likely scenario!
Profile Image for Charlotte L..
332 reviews115 followers
September 22, 2018
Ce roman est un étonnant mélange d'histoire post-apocalyptique et de nature writing. Un mélange réussi ! Une bonne partie du récit était assez angoissante, non seulement parce que les deux jeunes filles doivent faire face seules à un monde transformé, mais aussi pcq ce nouveau monde pourrait très bien être le nôtre. L'autrice dénonce les dérives de notre société et les menaces qui pèsent sur nous et ça m'a vraiment saisie.
Mais c'est aussi un message d'espoir et d'amour. Face à un mode de vie totalement chamboulé, Nell et Eva vont devoir faire le deuil de beaucoup de choses pour pouvoir renaître et s'adapter, c'est difficile et angoissant mais aussi intense et beau.
Un roman digne de Gallmeister !
Profile Image for Julie.
35 reviews
August 3, 2007
When 9/11 hit, I was reading this book. It was frightening and exciting all at once. It is about a sickness that causes everyone to either die or hide. Two sisters go into the forest with their family and later must learn to survive on their own. I learned some interesting survival techniques and think that if we ever have to go survive in our cabin in some type of disaster situation, I just might have some skills.
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