Into the Forest by Jean Hegland

Into the Forest - Jean Hegland

Starts out well, improves over the first half, then tails off before taking a sharp left at the very end that made me very nearly knock it all the way down to a 2 star read.


Plot: Two teenagers try to manage life alone, and then not so alone, in a remote house in the woods after the slow disintegration of the civilized world.


The opening chapters, of the world slowly falling to pieces as barely noticed by two teenagers living in a fairly remote place, are rather well done. This is apocalypse on the quiet, filtered through hysterical stories in the local papers when they are published, and wild rumours fetched up on trips to town. This is, I think, how the post-apocalypse would arrive for most of us, barring a truly apocalyptic event in the vicinity, life as we know it would simply wind down, the telephone, the television, the papers, the fossil fuels, the government.  And it's very nicely depicted here. 


Also well depicted,the numbness of grief, the way the girls waft through life alone until bought up sharply into reality by necessity. The prose itself is very good, there's places that I went back and re-read entire paragraphs because they just sparkled.


And then the ending. Stupid, stupid ending, ruined the entire book for me. I actually would have liked it better if some supernatural deus ex machina had turned them into forest nymphs or bear spirits or something. But no, they just go off and do the absolutely dumbest thing possible given their circumstances, and that's the end.


So, beautifully written, and had me rooting for Nell and Eva all the way until literally the last chapter. At which point I just thought "Meh, you deserve to be eaten by bears". I think it's meant to be uplifting and symbolic, and looking at other reviews, it apparently is for a lot of people. But it just didn't work for me.