A Pack Divided: Survivors, The Gathering Darkness, Book 1

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
A Pack Divided: Survivors, The Gathering Darkness, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Exciting post-disaster dog fantasy best for fans of series.

Parents say

age 8+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Readers will learn about dogs and why they act the way they do. They'll also see life after a natural disaster from the point of view of its non-human victims and appreciate the dogs' names for other creatures, such as "longpaw" for humans and "giantfur" for bear.

Positive Messages

Strong messages about doing the right thing, even when you're treated unfairly, living up to your responsibilities, fitting in with the group, and finding your own way.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Young Storm, who has already saved the dogs once by killing an enemy, is trying to fit in with the pack's more peaceful life. She shows courage and perseverance; even if she sometimes makes the wrong choices, it's usually for a good reason. Pack leader Sweet is very pregnant but remains a strong, wise Alpha capable of making tough decisions. Lucky, her mate, wavers between protecting his family and his duty to the pack.

Violence & Scariness

The dogs chase, kill, and eat other animals to survive, but it's not gory. And they're constantly on the lookout for mortal enemies, from gun-toting humans to other dog packs. Innocent puppies are bitten to death by an unknown dog.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Erin Hunter's A Pack Divided launches a Survivors series called the Gathering Darkness. Focused on adolescent "fierce dog" Storm and her struggle to find her place in the pack (which includes many dogs from the earlier series), the story offers many positive messages about integrity, belonging, obeying authority for the good of everyone, and finding your own path. There's some violence, as the dogs hunt prey to survive; Storm herself has killed an enemy in battle, and an unknown dog is killing puppies; and humans have killed dogs in other books and remain a scary presence. Dog-loving kids will lap up the adventures and empathize with Storm, though some will find it sad that the dogs are forced to fend for themselves because they've lost the humans who loved them. Kids who've read the six books in the first Survivors series and are familiar with the characters, setting, and relationships will have an easier time plunging into this one.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 11 and 11 year old Written byMichelle Y. October 24, 2018

Great book series for animal lovers

Unlike me at her age, my daughter is -- or I should say was -- a reluctant reader. We went into Barnes & Noble, hoping to find a series that would keep... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byWolf18girl August 17, 2016

Awesome!!

I love survivors and this book really captures what I love about it. A little graphic at the end
Kid, 10 years old April 26, 2018

really good !!!

a bit violent but full of action, suspense, and detail

What's the story?

Storm, a young Fierce Dog taken in as an orphan pup by Sweet and Lucky's pack, saved them in an earlier book by killing an enemy. Now, she faces a lot of day-to-day challenges. Many of her pack mates don't trust her because she's a Fierce Dog, and it doesn't make things better that another dog is a clingy, adoring fan. As this new series gets underway, Storm struggles to do the right thing and fit in, but a set of strange incidents, from an innocent dog being framed to the unexplained killing of puppies, has everyone on edge, as Sweet and Lucky, expecting their own puppies, struggle to maintain harmony in A PACK DIVIDED.

Is it any good?

Fans of Erin Hunter's first Survivors series will lap up this tale of a young dog's coming-of-age struggles as her pack confronts danger in a post-disaster world. There are plenty of positive messages about duty, belonging, and the challenges of leadership in this first installment of the Gathering Darkness series. The tale keeps the pages turning with exciting scenes of hunting and peril, plus relatable situations, such as being afraid, confused, or misunderstood -- and finding wisdom and comfort from friends.

Those new to the series might want to read the original six Survivors books first, because the characters, relationships, and cosmology (involving formerly domestic dogs fending for themselves in the wake of a catastrophic earthquake, as well as canine myths about Sun Dog, Earth Dog, Fear Dog, and the like) might be a bit overwhelming. Never fear, because the relentlessly productive "Erin Hunter" (actually a six-woman syndicate of five writers and an editor) includes a whopping 12 pages at the back of the book promoting her complete works, catalog-style, which besides Survivors include Warriors (about cats) and Seekers (about bears).

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about why animal stories are so popular. How are they different from stories about human characters? How are they alike?

  • How would you feel if you were punished for something you didn't do? What would you do to make things right?

  • Have you read other books by Erin Hunter? How does this one compare?

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