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Into the Forest by Jean Hegland
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U 50x66
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did not like it

** spoiler alert ** 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.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
November 1, 2009 – Finished Reading
December 4, 2009 – Shelved

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message 1: by Emily (new) - added it

Emily I'm curious what books you liked better from the apocalypse class!


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