Out of the Wild
Sarah Beth Durst
Reviewed by Rachael Stein (age 15) for Reader Views (9/08)
Though she may appear to be so, Julie Marchen is anything but normal. After all, when your mother is Rapunzel (yes, the one from the tower), you brother is Puss-in-Boots (the talking cat), and you just defeated the dangerous fairytale world called the Wild after it took over your hometown in Northboro, Massachusetts, any degree of normality is rather difficult to achieve. So even though Julie hopes that all these reporters and scientists will lose interest over the recent phenomenon caused by the Wild, she knows it’s not likely to happen, especially when the Wild spits out Julie’s father in exchange for a poetic blind mouse. And although this unexpected event confuses Julie (not to mention to shock caused to Rapunzel), Julie couldn’t be happier: her family is finally together. Unfortunately, family bonding time (as well as adjustment to the 21st century for the prince) will have to wait: Julie’s dad has set off to rescue the kidnapped Sleeping Beauty. But is this a valid rescue mission, or are Julie and her father just playing into the hands of the devious Wild? Either way, the Wild is back, and Julie’s got to save the world from it.
Sarah Beth Durst has woven another fun and fantastical tale in “Out of the Wild” that was just as good, if not better, than its prequel “Into the Wild.” “Out of the Wild” is a twist on fairytales in combination with the modern world, and the resulting story is just fantastic. The idea behind the Wild is so unique. It is so difficult when creating another world to become repetitive or boring, and after reading “Into the Wild,” I was almost afraid “Out of the Wild” would only be mediocre. Fortunately, I was proven wrong, and “Out of the Wild” was fresh and exciting with unforeseen plot twists. Any annoying similarities between “Into the Wild” and “Out of the Wild” can be chalked up to the uniformity of fairytales.
I was almost as impressed with the characters as I was with the ingenuity of the story and plot. However, since the story is told mainly from Julie’s perspective, some of the other characters were a bit confusing. Sometimes it seemed that there were a bit too many characters, but once again, this can easily be explained by the abundance of fairytale stories and characters. I felt Julie’s characters could’ve been better developed beyond the fact that she was valiant for battling the Wild and a little shy around cute guys. This slightly lack of character development was made up for by the creativity of the characters; the fairytale characters living in the 21st century were quite interesting as was Julie’s place between the two worlds.
Much of the success of this story comes from the sheer creativeness of Sarah Beth Durst’s creation of the Wild. I commend this fantastic story she has written in “Out of the Wild” and hope she will write subsequent novels featuring Julie and the fairytale world. “Out of the Wild” and “Into the Wild” can be enjoyed by readers of all ages as long as they’re willing to use their imagination. “Out of the Wild” can stand on its own, but I suggest reading its prequel “Into the Wild” to understand the references to Julie’s earlier adventure and also just because it’s another great story.