Apr 19, 2013

April Genreflecting: Hatchet by Gary Paulsen review

Genreflecting wordle

Hatchet coverALONE

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present -- and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent's divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self pity, or despair -- it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

From Goodreads

This book plays out exactly as described above. While we don't learn a lot of facts about our protagonist throughout the course of the book, we learn more than enough to create an incredibly powerful story. Because of The Secret, that Brian knows & plans to tell his father, his parents are now divorced & living in different countries. While Canada isn't that far away, it is a whole other world with respect to wildlife and survival situations.

When the pilot dies mid-flight, not only does Brian have to try to salvage the flight, he eventually must come to terms with the thought of crash landing somewhere. After that trauma & near-death experience, Brian finds himself on the edge of a lake with nothing but the clothes on his back and the hatchet his mother had just gifted him upon departure.

And so begins the saga that is this book. We follow Brian's movements & habits over a period of time, learning from his mistakes & rooting him on in moments of self-doubt. The writing style is very internal. It feels like we're reading Brian's internal dialogue as he goes about his existence. I really enjoyed how the author didn't go into immense detail about any one thing because it allowed me to picture this book taking place just about anywhere. This in turn gave me a more closely connected feeling with Brian.

As for its qualities as an adventure book, I have to say that this is hands down one of the best ones I've come across. It seems that a lot of times the shorter books tend to pack the biggest wallop with respect to their adventure aspects. A survival story through and through, Hatchet is the example that leads the way for this genre.

We really get the sense of not only a physical journey, but an emotional one as well. Brian has to adapt to his new surroundings and find constructive ways to cope with his situation. This provides endless opportunities for growth & self-development that just really can't be accomplished under normal circumstances. Even better is the fact that you truly have no idea where this will end. Just like in Jump & Trapped, I found myself holding my breath for how the story would end. Adventure books don't always have a happy ending; it's kind of an unspoken rule that sometimes not everyone will make it out, if anyone does at all.

I hope you have had the chance to enjoy this book. If not, I highly recommend it as it is such a quick read! Be sure to check back next week when I review The Devil's Breath as my thriller book & host a mystery giveaway!

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