The Warriors or Warrior Cat book series is one of those series online that rarely gets mentioned outside of its core fandom. However, most of the time when I do see it mentioned, it tends to be derided and treated badly.
It’s one of those things that I can see both sides of.
The critics of the series have their legitimate points. The characters aren’t very deep, mostly just filling their plot roles and acting as meatshields when the authors decide to kill somebody. Firestar seems like a perfect cat that can do no wrong. The plots are outlandish and rely more heavily on their supernatural elements as things go on. They abuse the forbidden love trope too much.
And so on.
As a long-time fan of the series, I’ll admit, a lot of these hold true the more the series goes on. Plot points repeat, and some points were long predictable before they happened.
But you know what?
It’s something I honestly don’t care about.
I’m almost thirty and I will say, unironically and unabashedly, that this series remains my favorite of all time.
How can that be when it’s meant for an 8-12 demographic?
It’s fun to read.
I know, I know; that probably sounds ridiculous for somebody that’s nearly thirty. Somebody that puts so much stock in having amazing writing, deep characters, good portrayals of mental illness, and neurodiversity in media… I obviously value good writing about all else.
Not all the time.
I do love series that I can just dig into and write extensive articles about. I love having a solid base to build off for intensive headcanons. I love doing ridiculously overblown character analysis.
But I also just want to have fun with things, and, for me, I honestly have some of my most fun when reading this book series.
I’m a very long-time fan of this series. I came in about halfway through the second arc, The New Prophecies. My first book in the series was actually Moonrise, the second book in the arc. My best friend got it for me for I think my 12th birthday, but I started reading it and realized it was part of a series. I ended up going to the bookstore and finding the first book, Into the Wild. I was a little tentative to invest in the series, so I just got the first one. It was, like, seven bucks (maybe about nine with tax) which wasn’t a huge loss if I didn’t like it.
Well, I was hooked.
Over the next couple months, I went back and gathered up the rest of that arc and the next one, waiting in anticipation for the next book.
I was absolutely enamored with the series and wrote a fair few fics for it. They were bad, but who writes good fanfiction at the age of 12-14?
Honestly, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reread the original series. These copies are nearly twenty years old at this point, but I still return to them time and again. The spines show their age as well as the fact the covers are bent.
I’m not surprised by the plot beats. I know them by heart. Nothing is a mystery. I was mentally beating my head against the wall during Forest of Secrets because it took Fireheart way too long to realize that Mistyfoot and Stonefur were Bluestar’s kids. (Spoiler warning for a twenty-year-old series for people mostly well outside its target demographic…?)
Despite all of that…I still found myself crying and legitimately moved. I won’t lie and say I didn’t cry when Yellowfang died. I dreaded the moment when Brightpaw would be attacked by the dogs, then named Lostface. I’m looking forward to when Tigerstar gets his just desserts from Scourage (I haven’t reread the last book as of this writing).
Even if it’s been years since I last reread the series, it’s still just as much fun as it was back in the day.
Honestly, the first series isn’t that bad if it’s by itself. Sure, a lot of those criticisms still hold up: the characters aren’t super deep, the writing can feel a little flat at times, and so on. The plot can be a little plodding at times, but I don’t mind it; the character interactions drive this series. Again, they may not be deep or amazing characters, but they do their job. They get you to feel enough for them that you keep reading.
Honestly, looking back, I can kind of see how this series influenced my own writing along with Harry Potter. These books take some level of advantage of wide webs of interconnectedness to drive intrigue and mystery. It uses a backstory to drive along with the present and future. Sure, some plot points are probably forgotten, but the most major ones are the most interesting. It’s fairly tightly written with so many interconnected plotlines that can branch off from one another.
Like I said, I can agree with the criticisms especially of the later series in full. This is an inherently flawed series. It’s mainly used to make money at this point, and I acknowledge that.
But I don’t really care.
You can love something despite its flaws. In this case, though, it’s the former.
You also don’t need a reason to like anything other than “it’s fun” for you. People just get a bit too wrapped up in fandom and preaching to each other about needing deep themes, extremely nuanced characters, incredible worldbuilding, and so on. We weave in issues of social justice, politics, and such.
If you enjoy engaging in those conversations in fandom, then that’s fine. If that’s how you enjoy fandom, then you can.
And some of these conversations are important.
But just never forget that, in the end, we’re all just geeks trying to enjoy what we love.
And, for me, that can include this incredibly flawed but intriguing book series meant for children half my age.