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Brian is on his way to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack. Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake--and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure.

Brian had been distraught over his parents' impending divorce and the secret he carries about his mother, but now he is truly desolate and alone. Exhausted, terrified, and hungry, Brian struggles to find food and make a shelter for himself. He has no special knowledge of the woods, and he must find a new kind of awareness and patience as he meets each day's challenges. Is the water safe to drink? Are the berries he finds poisonous?

Slowly, Brian learns to turn adversity to his advantage--an invading porcupine unexpectedly shows him how to make fire, a devastating tornado shows him how to retrieve supplies from the submerged airplane. Most of all, Brian leaves behind the self-pity he has felt about his predicament as he summons the courage to stay alive.

A story of survival and of transformation, this riveting book has sparked many a reader's interest in venturing into the wild.

208 pages, Hardcover

First published September 30, 1987

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About the author

Gary Paulsen

306 books3,274 followers
Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read--along with his own library card--he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his stories.

Paulsen and his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 17,129 reviews
132 reviews
February 14, 2009
Though the story was compelling, very compelling, compelling enough that I finished it despite the compelling urge to throw it out the window, I don't think I could ever read it again. The window, oh the shiny window, the shiny open window was very tempting. This book was so repetitious, why so repetitious, I know not why this book was so repetitious, but the repetitions made me want to pull my hair out. My brown hair, the brown hair on my head, the hair that was brown that was on my head.

I did listen to it on CD, which might have been part of the problem. Bruce said he didn't notice it as much when he read the book, but when you read it, your mind kind of skips over things, things that might be repetitious, the repetitious things might have been skipped over that make you want to pull your hair out and throw the book out the window.
Profile Image for Rachel.
64 reviews146 followers
May 11, 2007
So when I was in the 7th grade, Mrs. Randall (formerly Sr. Mary Randall, an ex-nun) FORCED this pile of garbage upon me and the rest of my unsuspecting classmates. I was an advanced reader and it was a relatively short, easy to swallow book but it took me FOREVER TO READ IT. because it was THAT FUCKING BORING. It's about this stupid snot of a kid whose parents are getting divorced (mom and dad broke up! boo-hoo :'( i'm scarred for life now!) and somehow his plane goes down in the wilderness of Canada (which I can admit is the scariest fucking thing I can possibly think of. I'd rather be faced with the zombie apocalypse or a gang of mass murdering rapists than being stuck in the middle of Canada) so snot-face has to learn to survive on his own. He has a hatchet that his mom gave him (though I really can't say what possessed her to give her poor no-one-wants-me warning signs of future school shootings son a HATCHET, but she does) and he eventually stops crying and figures out how to pick berries and chop trees. Or saplings. Or something. I don't know. All I know is, this is the worst book EVER. UGH. And Mrs. "Ex-Nun" Randall made us watch the MOVIE, too. it was TORTURE.
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
September 16, 2018
yes yes yes!! thank you to all the goodreaders who recommended this to me after my love for island of the blue dolphins became known. it turns out i love survival stories!! with teens!! and i wish i could say i never tore my eyes from the page and read this in an hour, but i have been having a distractedish day today; emailing my dad for father's day (everyone: call your dads!! or if they are at work, email-chat them!) and then there was a fire across the street from me (which is my number one all time fear) and the people in the building are so casual about it - there are two fire trucks in the street, and firefighters swarming everywhere, and i look in the windows and in two different apartments, there are people just sitting and watching and smoking cigarettes. what is wrong with them?? don't they care that their building is on fire?? don't they feel the fear i feel?? did they light their cigarettes from their blazing belongings and treasures?? i don't understand their stoicism in the face of fire. but you know who loves fire?? brian. he uses it to survive in the wilderness. seamless segue back into the review. it's great. i could read 400 more pages of this story. and despite my own fears of the fire leaping across the street to consume me and my beloved books, i could still engage in his plight: when he d the h in the w (clever code prevents spoilers) - i actually gasped out loud. and there were several times when he overcame a particular setback that i smiled. i totally cared about this character. i would love more survivaly stories, if anyone's got 'em.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Mischenko.
1,014 reviews97 followers
January 2, 2022
Hatchet is a story about a young boy (Brian) struggling to survive after his plane crashes in a forest. He was traveling by airplane from the United States to Canada to see his father when the pilot suddenly had a heart attack. Brian lands the plane, but now he’s injured--and all alone with nothing but the hatchet his mother gave him. As Brian strives to find ways to survive, he learns and adapts to the new environment, but he faces many challenges with animals and the elements. Left to survive on his instincts and what he’s learned in the past, Brian ponders over his family situation and deals with many emotions. He’s a strong boy and becomes quite resourceful, but can he survive the Canadian wilderness?

Gary Paulsen is one of my favorite authors, and it all started with this book, Hatchet. This book unequivocally is a favorite from childhood, and this is probably my third or fourth time reading it in my lifetime. This story never gets old.

Brian is a relatable character, and what he’s going through feels real; in fact, this book reads like nonfiction, in my opinion. It’s adventurous, engrossing, and full of suspense. Not only that, it’s thought-provoking and makes you ask questions about what you'd do in a similar situation. How prepared would you be? Do you have what it takes to survive? What’s it like to be completely alone in the wilderness? It can make your imagination run wild, and maybe that’s just one of the reasons why kids enjoy this story so much.

Readers who enjoy the outdoors or those who like survival stories will likely enjoy this book. This is a middle-grade book, but I’ve read it multiple times in adulthood and have enjoyed it all the same. Something I love about this story is Brian’s perseverance and how he learns from his mistakes. There are important lessons to learn. It’s a good story for boys, but girls will likely enjoy it too. The writing makes this a quick and easy read, but the book explores death, survival, divorce, anger, and even suicidal thoughts. Hatchet is a book I would personally recommend for young readers who struggle with reading or those who don't have an interest in reading. Definitely use your own discretion on whether your reader can handle these deeper themes though.

Hatchet is book #1 in the Brian’s Saga series. I’ve read them all and will read them again and again. This is a series I’d recommend to anyone. The audio by Peter Coyote is amazing and perfectly sets the tone for this book. My kids enjoyed it along with their physical copies.


You can also see this review @readrantrockandroll.com
Profile Image for Debbie W..
708 reviews453 followers
November 30, 2022
Author Gary Paulsen takes us through teenager Brian's 2-month survival story in the remote wilderness of Canada. Although this story is often on middle-school reading lists, amazingly, I've never read it myself, so I thought I better rectify this.

1. I could readily empathize with Brian's wonders, fears and accomplishments;
2. being from northern Canada myself, I was quite pleased when I correctly recognized the flora and fauna Brian encountered as food sources, such as his so-called "gutberries" (chokecherries), "nutbushes" (chestnut shrubs) and "fool birds" (ruffed grouse); and,
3. if read aloud or freely chosen for personal reading, I could easily see older primary and upper-elementary students enjoying this survival/adventure story.

1. phrasing was repetitive at times and could be distracting; and,
2. Brian's encounter with the skunk was quite the head-shaker for me - even a 6-year old wouldn't have done what Brian did!

As far as survival stories involving young people go, I enjoyed this one much more than Where the Crawdads Sing, because it is more realistic/believable to me, but the book Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell still tops my list!
Profile Image for Daniel Lowder.
14 reviews1 follower
September 19, 2007
What I learned from Hatchet:

1. If you see a man grimacing in pain, it could be a heart attack. If this man is the pilot of a charter prop plane that you're flying alone in, you could be fucked.

2. If you eat mysterious berries, they just might give you severe diarrhea. And, having just been marooned in a plane crash, you could lack the proper facilities to expel the diarrhea within. So, you could end up shitting your brains out in a cave. Since the tender age of 9, when I glanced upon the pages of this book, I have had a fear in regards to shitting in the wild. Fuck you, Gary Paulsen.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,543 reviews33.9k followers
May 21, 2015
3.5 stars I forgive you for eating the turtle eggs, Brian.

Read for our classics readalong series! Discussion next Friday 5/29 on the blog.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56k followers
September 1, 2020
Hatchet (Brian's Saga #1), Gary Paulsen

Hatchet is a 1986 young-adult wilderness survival novel written by American writer Gary Paulsen.

It is the first novel of five in the Brian's Saga series. Brian Robeson is a thirteen-year-old son of divorced parents. As he travels from Hampton, New York, to Canada to visit his estranged father when the pilot of his small prop plane suffers a heart attack.

Brian is forced to crash-land the plane in a lake--and finds himself stranded in the remote Canadian wilderness with only his clothing and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present before his departure. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: روز دوازدهم ماه اکتبر سال 2002میلادی

عنوان: ت‍ب‍ر؛ نویسنده: گ‍ری‌ پ‍ائ‍ل‍س‍ون‌ (پ‍ل‍س‍ن‌)؛ مت‍رج‍م م‍ت‍ی‍ن‌ پ‍درام‍ی‌؛ ت‍ه‍ران س‍روش‌ (ان‍ت‍ش‍ارات‌ ص‍دا و س‍ی‍م‍ا)، 1380؛ در 153ص؛ شابک 9644356004؛ موضوع داستانهای نویسندگان امریکایی - سده 20م

داستان نوجوانی را روایت می‌کند، که پدر و مادرش، جدا از هم زندگی می‌کنند؛ او برای نخستین بار، سوار هواپیمایی ملخی می‌شود، تا به دیدار پدرش برود؛ در راه، خلبان هواپیما سکته می‌کند، و نوجوان بی‌تجربه، تمام تلاشش را می‌کند، تا با برج مراقبت تماس بگیرد، اما موفق نمی‌شود؛ هواپیما سقوط می‌کند، و او در محیطی ناشناخته، تنها می‌ماند؛ در حالیکه تنها یک «تبر» به همراه دارد؛

نقل نمونه متن از آغاز داستان تبر: («برایان رابسون» از پنجره ی هواپیمای کوچک، به دشتهای سبز و بی‌انتهای شمالی، خیره شده بود؛ هواپیما، یک هواپیمای نمایشی کوچک، از نوع «سسنا 406» بود، با موتوری پر سر و صدا، که امکان هرگونه گفتگو و صحبت را، از بین برده بود؛ «برایان» هم حرف زیادی برای گفتن نداشت؛ سیزده ساله بود، و تنها مسافر آن هواپیما؛ خلبان که نامش …؛ نامش چه بود؟ «جیم»، «جک»، یا چیزی شبیه به آن.؛ به نظر چهل و خرده‌ ای سال داشت.؛ از زمانیکه برای بلند شدن آماده می‌شد، حرفی نزده بود.؛ در حقیقت از وقتی که «برایان» به فرودگاه کوچک «همپتون» نیویورک، برای سوار شدن به آن هواپیما آمده بود - یعنی مادرش او را آورده بود - خلبان فقط چهار یا پنج کلمه با او حرف زده بود: - در جای کمک خلبان بنشین …؛»؛ پایان نقل؛

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 10/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
November 9, 2011
I have to be honest. At first I was having a serious 'really?' moment as I started listening. The 'really?' was because this is a three-time Newberry Award winner, and I thought the prose was way too repetitive. The same word would be repeated three times. The same sentences twice. I was steeling myself to keep listening and hope it got better. It did. By the end of this novel, I totally realized why it is a Newberry Award winner.

Hatchet is a story of survival. The protagonist is a thirteen-year-old city boy who ends up stranded in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot of the small plane he's flying in has a heart attack and dies. I have to tell you, I am very impressed with this kid. I think I would have freaked like nobody's business. He does freak out at first (and I don't blame him), but ultimately shows a fortitude that inspires awe in this reader. He goes from a scared, helpless boy to a survivor. The Brian that was has to be broken down and reassembled into a Brian that can survive his new reality. He learns how to meet his needs in the harsh wilderness, and he comes out of it forever changed.

I love reading books/watching tv shows and movies about surviving. I don't know why, really. I don't even go camping or hiking, although I love the outdoors. I think it's because I love the idea of a person being resourceful and pitting their skills and mentality against the unprejudiced, often unsympathetic wild. Not conquering it, but learning to live in harmony, becoming a part of a vast ecosystem in a way that we can't do stuck in our comfortable city and surburban environs, another entity in the web of life. I would definitely recommend this book if you are of a similar mind.

I liked that Brian doesn't get it too easy. Not at all. He has to learn from his mistakes, and take the advantages that providence sends his way. He learns to keep food in his belly, to make a secure shelter, and to appreciate and anticipate the dangers of his environment. And in the process, he finds peace. He looks inside and finds his true self. That's what solitude and a oneness with nature will bring. I have always felt my most at peace in two places: in a spirit-filled church or by myself and with my heart open in prayer; and outside, surrounded by nature. So I really appreciated this aspect of the book. Brian starts out a boy who is emotionally lost at sea when his father and mother divorce, weighted down with the knowledge of his mother's infidelity; and finds that what seemed like tragedy and the end of his world will not conquer him. If he can survive the harsh elements of nature, all by himself, he can live with his family's fragmentation, and live to see the next day and the days after that.

I think this book is a metaphor for life. Life is harsh and we have to grow and change to survive it. We can't give up, descend into pity, and expect to be saved. We have to be strong and fight to save ourselves, whether it's physically, mentally, or emotionally.

Although this book had a very shaky start, I do have to agree that this is a winner. And I tell you what, this young man had a lot of lessons to teach me, lessons he learns the hard way. That's the power of a good fiction novel for me.
Profile Image for Celeste.
887 reviews2,335 followers
July 4, 2017
Some books imprint themselves on your mind and stay with you. You can remember vividly where you were when you first read them. Hatchet is one of those books for me. I remember being in Mrs. Alison’s sixth grade class, and this book was raging though the male half of my class like a wildfire. Even boys who usually hated reading couldn’t put it down. Obviously, as the class’s self-proclaimed queen of the bookworms, I wanted to know what all the fuss was about. So, when a copy finally made it back to the book cubbies that lined the back of the classroom, I nabbed it. And I totally saw what the fuss was about.

Survival stories have been popular for centuries. Robinson Crusoe, Kidnapped, The Swiss Family Robinson; even The Odyssey had survival aspects. So what was so special about Hatchet? It was the story of a thirteen-year-old plane-crash victim struggling to survive in the Canadian wilderness. Alone. With nothing but his hatchet.

This was a main character who was close to our age. Who was struggling to accept the recent divorce of his parents, which was something that multiple kids in our class were going through, and that the rest of us feared. Who had absolutely none of the knowledge and skills seemingly necessary to make it in the wild. Like the rest of us. Seriously, what middle school kid would actually know what to do if they were dropped in the woods, alone, with no supplies and no tools except for a hatchet? If we’re honest, most of us as adults would have no clue what to do, either. One thing about kids, though; they don’t know enough yet to doubt their ability to survive anything. Kids believe that death doesn’t apply to them, and in some ways that’s the only way one could survive this type of dire situation.

And survive Brian does. But Paulsen doesn’t pull punches; this is not a romanticized survival story, where food falls in the protagonist’s lap and they never get so much as a blister. Brian gets put through the wringer. This poor child get severely sunburned, violently ill from bad fruit, attacked by various forest dwellers, and more. Not to mention the near starvation he is constantly battling.

As a twelve-year-old, this book was terrifying and empowering and completely enthralling. I’ve read it six more times since then, and it’s still all of those things, with a healthy dose of nostalgia thrown in. So thanks, boys in my class, for getting me interested. If you’re a parent, you should definitely get this book for your kids. If you’re still a kid at heart and have never read this, track down a copy. You never know; the things you learn from this book could save your life if you ever get stranded alone in the middle of a forest.

For more of my reviews, as well as my own fiction and thoughts on life, check out my blog, Celestial Musings.
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,121 followers
March 14, 2016
3.5 Stars

Just imagine........you're 13 years old......you're riding shotgun in a Cessna......your pilot is suddenly unconscious. What do you do?

After the crash, young Brian Robeson has a big problem, much bigger than his secret. In shock, without food or water and alone in the north woods of Canada, he had only his wits and a hatchet as survival tools.

Brian comes face-to-face with some pretty scary and dangerous creatures of the night.....and day....that made for a great learning experience for him, and a few Oh No! moments for this reader. The constant swarms of mosquitos and black flies alone would have done me in, not to mention the skunk and black bear encounters.....just to name a few.

I really would have loved this story as a youngster and even enjoyed it as an oldster. Great "children's" adventure/survival story!

Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,739 followers
April 8, 2022
Hatchet is a Young Adult classic and award winner that I have heard a lot about over the years and have always wanted to read. I love it when I am searching for an audiobook and books like this pop up as available. I think, “Ah ha! I can finally get to this one!”

It did not take me long to get through Hatchet during my daily lunchtime walks. It held my interest throughout, but probably wasn’t even long enough to lose it! It is definitely geared toward pre and early teens – however, there are a couple of more difficult topics (like death and survival) that this might be a kids first introduction to (unless they are like me and started reading Stephen King at 12!) If my kids decide to try this one out, I will be there for them if they have any questions about it.

Should you read this book? It is not bad for a quick read, but it may prove to be too simple for some peoples’ tastes. If you can adjust your mindset and think of it like a 10- to 13-year-old would, I think you will appreciate it more. Luckily, as I mentioned it is not very long, you are not committing too much of your time if it ends up not being your cup of tea.
Profile Image for Chynna.
2 reviews1 follower
September 13, 2012
Hatchet is a book about a thirteen year old boy, Brian Robeson, who goes through many experiences that ultimately gets him stranded in the middle of the Canadian wilderness. His only two survival tools, his mind and a hatchet, which was a present from his mother. Throughout the book, we learn all of the different ways how Brian learns to adapt to his new and unfamiliar surroundings.

My thoughts:
Hatchet is probably the worst book I have ever read, and I have read a lot of books. The only reason why I finished this book is because it was for a novel study. I cringed every single time the author wrote about "The Secret", which was a lot. Brian seemed so obsessed with this "Secret" to the point that it was repeated many times in a row. I didn't enjoy the author’s way of writing either. I found there was quite a few run on sentences and he brought up "The Secret" way too many times. Seriously Brian, just get over it!!!!
Once I found a sentence that used the word "and" five different times. Talk about a run on sentence! Also, I found Brian’s way of thinking very frustrating at times. He seems so stupid in some parts of the book, I felt like I just wanted to bang my head against a wall. By the end of the novel study, I was ready to throw this book into the middle of the Canadian wilderness.
Am I the only one that thinks you shouldn’t give a thirteen year old a hatchet? Seriously, how did he even get past security?

Ok so overall, I think Hatchet is a terrible book. If you still want to read it after reading my review, I suggest you rent the book from the library, so you don’t waste your money buying it. I hope this review helped!
Profile Image for Calista.
3,803 reviews31.2k followers
October 26, 2017
This is a great book. It's a good adventure story for early teens. I think it should have won the Newberry Medal for 1988 and so it goes.

Brian has to survive in the Canadian Woods on his own for a summer. He learns to make fire, shelter and hunt for fish and birds. There is also a divorce theme going on as Brian's parents have recently split.

This is your typical survival tale. Brian does face some harsh environments and he learns to be tough physically and more importantly - mentally. He doesn't give in to feeling sorry for himself. This is very well written and there is a reason it is so popular. I will read more of the Brian Saga.
Profile Image for Erin *Proud Book Hoarder*.
2,388 reviews1,056 followers
March 3, 2017
Despite some of the repetition getting annoying from time to time, Hatchet is an engrossing story of survival for a young boy unfortunate enough to endure a plane crash to become stranded in the Canadian wilderness. For the most part the story sticks to realistic stuff, concentrating mainly on hunger and food. So many other survival stories focus on more, but really the basics of food and hunger and survival would be the forefront issue most would encounter if stranded alone. It sets in fast and it's almost constant. Brian shows he has what it takes to survive, but the author doesn't make the child come across as anything super since he shows that nature is uncontrollable and that it's luck of the draw for us all. The author even ends the narrative of the story saying that if Brian had been unlucky enough to be stranded during wintertime in the Canadian wilderness, he very likely wouldn't have survived at all. His dependency on the lake is the only reason he made it past the first few days, and then subsequent months, but a frozen lake would have nixed that.

Although realistic with its focus on hunger and survival, it did have an unlikely tornado that felt contrived. Still the story can be forgiven this, as it focused on things like swarms of mosquitoes, baking sun, a random rude moose and other concerns. Brian didn't venture far from the landing, and I'm not sure I would have either. Some would venture far to try and find salvation themselves but he stuck to one area and stayed close to the shelter and food/water supply that were guaranteed to be sure. A more cautious method that worked. Not sure what I would have done in his circumstances, but I see the point that the chances of shelter like that would have been few and far between.

Written for children, it's more interesting and educational than upsetting. I do wish the author had spent more time granting us a deeper afterword. I realize the point of the story was the struggle, but I like to see more time involved with the after effect. Just a pet peeve of mine. We did get a small one at least. Besides the survival story being the focus, the Secret also weighed heavy in his mind, and ends up being a continuous thing he has to carry. The story ties into the Hatchet being the main tool he used to get started, but I do have to wonder why kind of random present that is that a mother gives a young boy. Either way, came in handy.

Even if the repetition with the writer's style grew too much at times, it was to the point and paced well. I can see why it won so many children's awards, including Newberry Honor.
Profile Image for Becky.
827 reviews156 followers
May 17, 2013

Seriously, I read this maybe in fourth grade? It was definitly in elementary school, because I remember it was at the same time that we we doing "survival skills"* in Girl Scouts. Not that I ever wanted to be trapped by myself in the wilderness, but I spent a lot of my time in my backyard pretending to find flint with my sister, and starting imaginary fires to keep warm. In winter we dug ourselves igloos. I always went camping with my parents, so this book started a lot of Q&A's with them about what to do if I get lost in the woods (Hint, No. 1 is STAY WHERE YOU ARE!). Any ways, its a great read for an elementary kid, and everyone should read it.

* This was put in quotation marks because it was a total joke. I had been looking forward to these skills for quite some time, finally girl scouts was going to teach me what I wanted! Instead of knives they handed us popsicle sticks. For the love of God CUB SCOUTS get real knives. This was followed shortly on the heels of an outdoor cooking class where none of us were allowed near the fire. Basically we made banana boats, and then the instructor put the boats in and out of the coals for us. We learned how to build a fire with coals, not tinder. Agh. It was at this point that I decided Girl Scouts was NOT for me.
Profile Image for Dave Schaafsma.
Author 6 books31.3k followers
October 17, 2021
RIP, Gary Paulson, October 16, 2021

I have read Hatchet a few times and listened to it with the fam a couple times in the car, and taught it and each time it reads better and better. Just listened to Peter Coyote read it while riding back from Yellowstone, and loved it. Great story, well told, well read.

An adventure story in part based on tough guy (with a big heart) Paulson's own survival of a plane crash and other near death experiences. When I think of that kid there finding ways to survive at a lake in Nowhere, Canada, miles from civilization, I see it precisely, I have been there, in the way of the best books. And some genuine heart-pumping moments.

Paulsen's great achievement. How is it it rates only 3.61 from GR readers?! Read it, or read it again, in honor of this great book, probably written for middle grades, but really all-ages in the way of classics.
Great book!!
Profile Image for Brittany McCann.
1,560 reviews394 followers
January 13, 2023
Hatchet has a very narrow target audience, and I was definitely not an included member of it. While I can see the value of the overall survival story that Gary Paulsen has concocted, I was thoroughly bored and annoyed over constant repetitions within the same page and the same chapter.

Perhaps middle-grade readers are less likely to find this negative. I wish it could have just been straightforward story without constant repetitions.

As it sits, I couldn't rate it as more than "just ok". Goodreads sets that rating for a 2 star.
Profile Image for Giselle.
1,055 reviews911 followers
March 31, 2016
The writing just flows and you're constantly worried about Brian. Having to survive with nothing else but a hatchet and the clothes on your back can't be easy. I loved seeing how innovative his brain worked. Making tools from his environment. It was super impressive for a thirteen year old boy. I practically flew through the pages.
Profile Image for Joseph.
57 reviews
November 3, 2007
basically, Biran is the main character in the story, he is getting on a plane to go visit his father; his parents are divorced. he also has a giant burden on his back, his mother was having an affair.
before he leaves , his mother gives him a hatchet. after, he sets off, he talks with the pilot and has a little fun by piloting the airplane swerving and swoppoing up and down. until suddenly, the pilot has a heartattack becasue of gas and dies. brian is forced to fly the plane himself, but until the fuel runs out, he stops at a lake to kind of softne the impact.
he wakes upon a beach.
this starts him on his new journey, a journey to survive. this is kind of a rebirth for him; he learns to do things he would nt neccesarily do in life, but now that he has to, he is. he learns how to survive, he fends off cretures such as skinks, porcupines, bears, and mooses; he is able to be keep himself from starvation by findinf food among trees and the creatures of the wild such as fowls and rabbits and fish. he also creates his own shelter, fire,, his own weapons for hunting, a pond for which he keeps a stock of fish, and a list of things he makes so that his life is a little bit ore easier than it is in the wild( even though its not that easy in the first place). basically, one day, a tornado rips his location apart. he still survives, but when he goes outside, he sees that the plane he flew in was flipped up. he then figures out that there was a survival pack in the back of the plane; he goes and retireves it.
after hard work, he ravages through the bag. he finds his own riches such as pots and pans, food, guns, radio which he immedialitey uses. he then feasts on packs of food and drink from the survival pack.
until a plane comes and lands in the lake. he steps out and sees brian.
the stroy ends with the epilouge wchich tells of brian and how he was the kid people had been looking for for over two months. how he had no fat in hsi body anymore and exploited the area in which he lived in and ws able to survive in.

i really enjoyed this story. it seems like one of the stories that you know you can learn from if youre ever in brians situation. i know that if i was in the wilderness near a lake, i could proibably reenact his actions to survive; but id most defintiely need a hatchet, or he and i would naver ever be able to pull anything off. .....awesome story:)
Profile Image for David.
163 reviews508 followers
February 7, 2014
So when I added this, I vaguely recalled the title, and I swear, I have definitely read it, but what I thought it was about was a boy being stuck under the snow following an avalanche (it turns out the book I was thinking of is apty named Avalanche by Arthur Roth) but anyway, that's not what it is about, and I really don't remember this book at all.

Hatchet I definitely read in middle school at the instruction of my librarian (we had a sort of once-weekly class in the library to introduce us to the already anachronistic card catalog, and maybe to encourage us to read). It strikes me now as one of those "boy books" and was sort of offered to me as an alternative to Babysitters' Club or Nancy Drew, maybe. It's strange now, because it undervalues literature very much to say that some is suited to boys, and others to girls (which is to say nothing of our society's pathetic need to classify and categorize). Based on my vague and unreliable memory (and the description gleaned from amazon), here are the reasons why you should have your son, nephew, homeless male orphan read Hatchet:

1) It is the story about a boy named Brian. Brian is a great boy name (maybe you've considered it for your tot?), and everything he does (probably) exudes the same brand of outdoorsy masculinity that you want your little Timmy, Tommy or Teddy to adopt as an adolescent and adult.
2) It takes place outside. What better way to encourage kids to go outside than to have them sit inside and read a book about a boy who is outside?
3) There is a hatchet, presumably. Whether little Johnny has that lumberjack vibe, or that investment banker gone Sarsgaard-murder-house vibe, certainly it will be important to introduce them to the concept of the hatchet. A very useful tool that almost no one uses, as far as I know.
4) The plot evidently features a plane crash, wherein Brian must be the lone survivor. Very likely to happen. Also, surely all the characters in this book are male, what better way to introduce your young one to a realistic view of the world than to immerse them in world dominated completely by a young boy and some owls, or something. (also see: Lord of the Flies)
5. This 20th anniversary edition features a great commentary by the author, Gary Paulson. Even though your little brat probably won't read this (why would he?), it will give his ego the small boost for the illusion of having read a book a little longer than he actually did).
6. This is the first installation of a SAGA. For one, "saga" is reminiscent to me of the Nordic mythos, which seems to be the most supporting of the idealized male image. It also means there are multiple volumes following our intrepid Brian. What more could you want? Why invest in Boy Scouts when you could drop a pile of Brian books in your kid's lap and turn him into a man, while saving all that time and money?

Get it! So good!
Profile Image for Hilary .
2,195 reviews398 followers
July 13, 2020
3.5 stars

This is a book that really has you rooting for poor unlucky Brian to have something turn out right for once, he faces horrible situation after horrible situation! I love survival stories, children without adult stories, this is quite a tough story, I err on the survival stories where you have some sort of home created, some comforting details, much appreciated because of the hardship. Brian certainly had a lot of hardship and how ironic that when he finds We began to find it amusing just how unlucky Brian managed to be! And phew!

The cover on this book is a perfect example of an illustrator not reading the story, again and again we are told how Brian is weather beaten and sunburnt to a crisp, and yet the cover picture makes me think of a 1980s new romantic look complete with black eyeliner!

Read on open library.
Profile Image for Justin_E1.
3 reviews
January 7, 2018
Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson was trapped in a small plane when the pilot had a sudden heart attack and died. Brian brought the aircraft to a forced landing and survived. The first thing Brain did after he crashed was he panicked, he felt lost, and he missed his family. The author described other emotions Brian felt when he was alone in the forest like hopelessness, desperation, and hunger. Every time the author expressed a feeling, it would always paint a realistic picture in my head, sometimes sending chills down my spine.
I wondered “If I was in that situation, what would I do?” Although I think I would lose hope in these situations, I will get myself together and try my best to keep my self from negative emotions and hunger. It's in human nature to have a strong desire to survive. Reading this book reminded me of the movie "The life of Pi." Surviving on a boat with a tiger for 227 days?! I would rather drown myself. What made Pi survive was faith. When you have faith, you have hope. When you have hope, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. That's what motivates you to overcome difficulties and achieve your dream. Faith is what made me get up 6 o'clock in the morning to attend swimming lessons. I am still young, there will be a lot of difficulties I will be facing in my life, but I think as long as I have faith in myself, I believe I can overcome a lot of challenges and achieve my dreams.
Profile Image for Ashley.
173 reviews63 followers
January 14, 2021
I absolutely hated this book the first time I read it. It was required reading in Grade 6 and I finished it only because there were tests. Looking back, I can't quite remember what it was I disliked about it so much. I can only guess it was because I was a huge reader even then, but I hated being told what to read; it also took time away from my other books. Reading it again, 10 years later (and again at least once a year since) it has become one of my favorites, quite possibly in my top 10. I also recommend the sequels, particularly Brian's Winter which is great for those of us who ask what-if? at the end of a much loved book.
Profile Image for Chantal.
862 reviews119 followers
April 3, 2020
Great story about survival and it reads easily. Good adventure story for youngsters. The only thing I wished the writer would have worked more on is the building of the character. We don't really read much about Brian as a person. Even his secret could have been more human and not that flat. Still it gets 4 points because I did enjoy it.

This book is in the 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up challenge I am doing.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,877 reviews3,383 followers
July 21, 2022
This was quite the treat!

Young Brian is flying to Canada to visit his father during the summer after his parents have recently gotten divorced. The reason as well as the divorce itself are eating away at Brian. That is until his pilot has a heart attack and he crashes in the middle of the Canadian wilderness and has to get creative in order to survive.

The book is relatively minimalist, but that in no way makes it less good. It's the story of a boy and nature and the unbreakable spirit of some people. I wish this kind of survivalist story was (still) more popular. Because neither children nor adults are generally this knowledgeable about nature anymore. Most just stand around and scream whenever anything happens.

Yes, I'm one of the kids who spent a lot of time outside. I watched TV, I got a computer as a teen, my parents weren't some hippies, but I was also outside a lot and learned about making fire and finding shelter, knowing what to eat and what not when in a forest. I have colleages 10 years my senior who didn't even realize that the "large chicken breasts" their butcher often has aren't chicken breasts but turkey breasts and that those are two very different animals. *rolls eyes*

So I really enjoyed the can-do spirit, the learning curve (that the boy was neither hysterical nor unrealistically faultless in his actions), the progression of the time spent in the wild, the Boy Scout feel of it all.

I can see why so many have read this book, often in school, in the past; and why a lot of kids might dig this. It wasn't perfect, but it was a pretty neat adventure with high stakes that teaches the reader a lot about mental attitude and fortitude.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books3,910 followers
July 20, 2022
I was roped into reading this classic YA for reasons, not realizing I had actually read it way back when I was in school in 7th grade. I started reading it and said, "Damn, I hate it when authors use this kind of tone for kids, emphasizing 'secret' so damn much in extremely short and supposedly powerful ways that just sounds so faux-mysterious."

A second later it dawned on me that I knew the rest of the story. Another second later, I realized it wasn't because the survival trope was so damn common.

It was because I HAD read it and just plain forgot it.


Well, anyway, it made me think about how survival tropes haven't really been around anymore. I mean, sure, we have Hunger Games and just about every Anime out there, but there's not too much in modern lit, not that I've seen. Notable examples to the contrary are Life of Pi, etc., but many of these serve as either satire or dark commentary.

Whatever happened to this kind of genre, especially SF? Heinlein's juveniles used to be full of it.

How odd.

Oh? What about this book? lol

It's fine. It made me angry and nostalgic in turn.
Mostly entirely because of the Boy Scouts. I remember survival training and then I remembered that the whole thing of the BOY SCOUTS is dead now. Survival training and survival literature have both died.

I think that's kinda ironic.
Profile Image for Madeline.
771 reviews47k followers
May 10, 2010
Friggin' awesome. My 3rd grade teacher read this book aloud to my class, a chapter a day, and I remember being absolutely enthralled every single day. She read it to us right before first recess, so whenever that day's chapter ended with a cliffhanger we had the whole recess to discuss what we thought was going to happen next (and act out our own renditions of the time Brian got attacked by a bear).
Profile Image for Eilonwy.
814 reviews203 followers
October 25, 2020
3-1/2 stars
On his way to visit his father after his parents have divorced, Brian's plane crashes, deep in the Canadian wilderness. Brian is the only survivor. How will he keep himself alive?
This book was recommended to me by a kid at church, and her enthusiasm convinced me to pick it up.

I would have loved this book when I was the right age for it. It's an excellent tale of determination and resourcefulness, as 12-year-old Brian explores his surroundings and searches his brain for every little bit of information that might help him survive. It alternates very believably between Brian's despair (how will anyone find him; is he going to be stuck being a wild woods person forever?) and his survival instinct. He's lucky in a number of ways: the plane crashes in a lake, so he has drinking water. A ledge of bedrock with a small cave provides him shelter. But aside from that, he's on his own to figure out how to eat, how to stay warm, how to keep from being eaten alive by mosquitoes.

I hope that if anything like this ever happens to me, I can handle it with the creativity, ingeniousness, and grace that Brian did. In this aspect, this was a 5-star book.

But it's a 3-star read for me because that's all that was in the book. The beginning tantalizes readers with The Secret that Brian is keeping about his mother, but it's a feeble attempt at adding psychological depth to a story that didn't really need it, and it didn't add up to anything anyway, so for me, it fell completely flat and detracted from the story rather than rounding it out, especially when it was resolved with a throwaway line in the epilogue.

I have very mixed feelings about the epilogue in general. On one hand, I appreciated learning the long-term effects of isolation and near-starvation on Brian. On the other hand, I found it irritating and a bit too much.

So from my adult perspective, I have mixed feelings about this story. But I can see why it's a classic and still in print 30+ years after its first publication. I could hardly put it down, and it made me seriously start thinking about whether I'm carrying enough food and warm clothing with me at all times -- it's haunting that way.
122 reviews12 followers
October 28, 2007
(fwiw this is a book I read my kids aged 6-10)

I'd give this book 3.5 stars if I could. Basically the stuff which makes it a classic and is indeed very good is the adventure/survival stuff (he is the sole survivor of a plane crash deep in the woods and has nothing but a hatchet). Both the details of what he is doing to survive, and the psychological changes he goes through in his attempt to survive are believable, interesting, and illuminating.

There is a second thread in the book which is him processing his parents' divorce and in particular "the secret" which is that even before the divorce he saw his mother kissing some other guy. I wanted to retch every time this stuff came up. I found it much less believable and also generally an intrusion into the main story. I tried to think of some deep connection between the divorce / "the secret" and his survival which enabled readers to make connections and learn things about one or the other that they otherwise would not have been able to, but I really couldn't.

Survival part gets 4.5 stars; his relationship with his parents gets 1.5 stars (my overall is 3.5 because the survival stuff is dominant).

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