Jun 15, 2009

Hatchet

by Gary Paulsen

As a younger reader, I was a big fan of Gary Paulsen. The first book of his I read was Hatchet. It's a survival story, set in the northern wilderness. After his parents' divorce, thirteen-year-old Brian survives a plane crash on a remote lake while on the way to visit his father in Canada. He finds himself all alone, miles off course (which makes search and rescue success unlikely) with nothing but a hatchet in his belt. Brian must learn quickly how to make a fire, build a shelter, find food, etc. At the same time he struggles internally with the anger he feels at his parents. There are several things I really liked about this story. First, it doesn't shy away from the gritty details. Right after the landing Brian is in shock, it's freezing cold, he almost gets eaten alive by mosquitoes, he gets sick all over the place, etc. Even after he gets the hang of things, there's still lots of unpleasantness- rain and mud, porcupines and skunks, fish slime and bird guts. You get the picture. Very realistic. Secondly, the story is just as much about how Brian changes because of his ordeal, as it is about what he does to survive. He comes to appreciate the beauty of the wilderness. He learns patience and problem-solving skills. He matures a lot emotionally, and comes out of the experience a very different person. Great book.

Rating: 4/5 ........ 195 pages, 1987

A few more opinions:
BookSnake Reviews
Reading Railroad
Sarah the Librarian

16 comments:

pussreboots said...

Hatchet was the first Paulsen book I read too. I stayed up late to finish it in one day. I'm still a fan of his books and have a few of them in my to be read pile (even though I'm now an adult).

bermudaonion said...

This is a great book for young male readers.

KT said...

This was one of my favorite books as a kid. I read several other Paulson's, but I didn't love any like I loved (and still do really) Hatchet.

Holly said...

My son reviewed this for me. He absolutely loves the Paulsen books.

An Anonymous Child said...

I remember appreciating the book quite a bit when I read it the first time (middle school) but thinking that it could have made the reader sympathize with Brian more. To this day I like the book well enough but I remember feeling that a kid's book should have a tiny bit of dialogue, just to flesh out the characters some more.

TheBlackSheep said...

Sounds good, even though I've never read anything by Paulson.

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Bybee said...

I did this with my middle school ESL class and it was a big hit. It's also the only audiobook I own.

Janet said...

The realism does sound like it sets this book apart.

I haven't read this, but your review has me thinking about other survival stories I've read -- Robinson Crusoe, Into the Wild, To Build a Fire...

Trish said...

I haven't read this book but wanted to when I was younger. One of my favorite survival books when I was a kid was My Side of the Mountain.

Jeane said...

Sounds like a lot of people love Hatchet as much as I do! I really liked Into the Wild, and To Build a Fire, as well. I struggled trying to read Robinson Crusoe a few times, but I think I was just too young. I need to open that one again. And My Side of the Mountain... I think I read it once, but the memory is very fuzzy.

Trish said...

Oh Robinson Crusoe. Yuck! I read it a few years ago in college (so I wasn't too young) and I still found it dull. I really need to read Into the Wild as well.

Gentle Reader said...

My son loved this book, and the others in the series. It sounds great. I read and loved My Side of the Mountain when I was a kid, and I see that this might be similar for me.

KT said...

I didn't really like Robinson Crusoe either. I wanted to, and thought I would. But, gosh! I just found it so boring (who would have thought it was possible?). Good luck if you pick it up again.

jacketsandcovers said...

I had a teacher who read this book out loud to us in grade school. I thought it was wonderful, but now I can't remember if we finished it or not.

Chandra said...

Wow! Thanks for the link! It's great to hear more about this book and it seems that so many have been touched by this book!