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Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Review by Forsaken One

WARNING!! Contains Major Spoilers!

I just finished the book Into the Forest by Jean Hegland and I felt the need to review it. Since this is the only place I can think of that would accept a review other than amazon.com I'm posting here. If you don't want to hear my review click on the back button on your browser and go to another thread. I would recommend the Book Club threads since they seem to be one of the few things going on around here right now.

Note: These are all my opinions. Every one, even the facts, can be interpreted to whatever the reader wants. If you don't want to hear my opinions on this book, leave as stated above. If you want to make up your own mind about this book buy or borrow the book. It's a recent book, out in '98, but your local library should have it. If you do want to hear my opinions, please don't flame me because you don't agree with them. They won't do any good and only annoy people.

Also, this review will have major spoilers. If you don't want spoilers, click on your back button, as stated above.

Now that all that is taken care of, I will start off my review by saying I am biased. I don't like straight fiction and it was an English book, so I'm naturally looking faults. However, I didn't have to look that far just to find a few.

First off, Into the Forest is based in a world around this time. Civilization is gone, electricity is non-existent, and the world is in chaos. Into the Forest is the story of two sisters who are living through this time alone. Their mother died of cancer before the trouble really started and their father died by dropping a chainsaw on himself shortly after the trouble started.

Now the idea that a small, secluded part of the world could suddenly loose all power and go into a primitive state is quite acceptable to me. However, this story takes place in California, near San Francisco, and that isn't exactly an isolated part of the world, believe me. The idea that every single power plant, factory, etc. in the USA would break down at the same time is rather far fetched. The idea that no country would take over America if this happened, or at least try to help it, is even more far fetched. So let's look at the basic plot so far: Every major country that is affiliated with the USA decides they don't want to help or conquer the USA in it's weakened state. Furthermore, Canada and Mexico and all the Central and South American countries break down as well apparently because they don't come to help America. The same thing happens with Hawaii and Alaska.

From this implausible point, the story begins going downhill. The author spends countless pages going over things that have no plot significance and aren't even mentioned after the initial few pages. For example, he spends three pages on how the sisters, Nell and Eva, make preserves out of fruit with their father. While I'm all for detail, this is going a bit overboard.

Next, the sex scenes are completely unnecessary. They aren't too descriptive, but they seem to be thrown in there just for the hell of it. After one of the sisters gets raped she is very downhearted (quite understandable, I'm sure). How does the author fix this downheartedness and bring the plot some action (in both meanings of the word)? Why, a lesbian sex scene by the Gods. People love those lesbian sex scenes, don't they? But wait, we can't just have a lesbian sex scene; that would be boring. So he adds a little incest in there and has the two sisters make love. Not only is this pointless but this is completely unrealistic. I'm not a psychologist and only have one semester of psychology that was mostly "feel your emotions" crap, but I'm pretty sure that having your sister have sex with you will not suddenly get you out of a deep depression after you've been raped. Speaking of rape, the rape of one of them, and the pregnancy because of that rape, is a major turning point in the book. While I understand the need for this, the author seemed to use a character just as a plot device. He arrived one day, saw Eva, raped Eva, and was never seen again. I'm solidly against throwaway characters, and this author seemed to love them.

There are many more problems with it but I don't have the book with me right now and I don't want to write any more. In the final run, if you can stand a bad plot, throwaway characters, gratuitous sex and incest, illogical ways of solving problems, and an ending that doesn't actually resolve anything, then you will probably love this book. If you have taste, as I think most people here have, even if they do like Robin Hobb, then skip this book. It's a waste time that could be better spent on something productive, like sleeping. Of course, if you want to start a fire, this book will catch quite nicely.


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