I thought I should make this post before I drown the series in too much negativity. Because despite all its flaws, I really do like it. The Erin’s biggest strength is easily their ability to easily set very unique moods and atmosphere which perfectly convey every moment in whichever scene they set, and although the series often gets stuck in a rut of cliche, it always captures the feeling of the forest and spirit of adventure.
Being able to effectively set a scene is a personal weakness of mine, and I feel a lot of people underestimate how much an effect good atmosphere can have on a story. Letting the read feel like he or she is there with the character, allows them to more readily connect with the character’s feelings and motivations. If we didn’t feel the tension in Rusty’s dream in the first chapter, we wouldn’t care as much when he went out to the forest for real.
Unlike a lot of children’s books, and heck, books in general, there’s a very real sense of danger throughout. Characters, even major ones, aren’t immune to disease, or even death. The world created for us is one susceptible to corruption and tyranny. The characters’ culture gives them many virtues and prejudices, many of which might not be 100% likable. But that’s what makes them unique.
When Firepaw joins the clan he isn’t automatically accepted. He’s seen has foolish and unsuitable to be a warrior by cats who have trained hard their whole lives, only to find a naive kitten who thinks it to be all adventure and thrills. Much of Firepaw’s inner conflict in the first book, and even in the first series comes from the divide between the warrior code, and his own instinct to help whoever needs helping, whether they be a rogue, loner, kittypet or of another clan.
Even after Fireheart eventually wins the trust of his clanmates, the prejudices of the clan as a whole aren’t drastically changed. They don’t share the same willingness to see the other clans as allies, and they don’t feel like befriending every kittypet they meet. And that’s a good thing. Having characters with opposing ideals and drives is what makes for interesting conflict and drama. If the kittypet lifestyle and all who chose it aren’t looked down on by clan-borns, we might get a forest filled with Pinestars who all want to go off to be house cats.