Friday, February 18, 2011

Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

Rating: *****

Hatchet is an awesome book about outdoor survival. In is, 13 year old Brian Robeson crash lands into a lake from a small plane flying over the Canadian wilderness when the pilot suffers a heart attack. Brian is left on his own with nothing but a hatchet (a small axe) and his own ingenuity to survive.

Brian, after much trial and error, eventually finds a way to make fire using his hatchet, and his life becomes a little easier. Over the course of the book, he even creates spears, bows, arrows, a shelter, traps, and even a small fish nursery to help him survive. Even with all of these benifits, Brian's survival is threatened by many obstacles, including porcupines, bears, skunks, moose, storms, bugs, the cold, and even a tornado! He is rescued at the end almost by accident by a fur buyer. I find that this ending to the book is an amazing stroke of luck for Brian, as winter is fast approaching, and through the contents of the survival kit he found would have aided him, a majority of the items wouldn't have lasted very long, and I doubt that Brian would have been prepared enough to adequately survive. In addition to this last bit of luck, the fact that he crashed into a lake (which guarantees him fresh water and the possibility of catching fish and other wildlife for food) is also an amazing stroke of luck.

This book made me think of how people in general have grown away from the wilderness, as I can't imagine how someone in today's modern society would have been able to survive in the same predicament, though someone from even as recent as a hundred years ago would have been able to stand a much better chance of guaranteed survival. It also makes me realize how much of the world is still wild and natural, and how cruel and unforgiving nature can be. Lastly, it made me realize that the sort of thing that happened to Brian can happen to anybody, and that everybody should be at least partially educated in wilderness survival so as to better deal with similar circumstances in the future. I would recomend this book to anybody of any age group, and it is a relatively fast read. I couldn't put the book down the entire time I was reading it, and have read it many times. It keeps your attention the entire time you read it with twists and turns that threaten Brian's very survival. It is the first book in a series that depicts the rest of Brian's journey and encounters in the wilderness.
Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. New York: Bradbury Press. 1987. Print.

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