Hatchet – Gary Paulsen

HatchetOn the Cover: 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. 

Published: 1987



The Review:

I read this book probably a dozen times growing up and I will probably read it a dozen more as an adult. There is something really timeless in this book in that it always feels relevant, and will always entertain me no matter how many times I’ve read it.

I picked up this book again because of it’s Canadian setting, but I had forgotten how wonderfully authentic this book is. Anyone who has spent time camping in the Canadian wilderness will recognize these surroundings. Paulsen is amazing at capturing the different aspects of the setting, from the ever-present bugs to the hot days and chilly nights, the sounds and smells of the forest and all of the wildlife. I love every part of the setting in this book, especially how alive it all feels.

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My favourite part of this book is the narrating voice – Brian’s voice. Brian is completely by himself in the wilderness. There is an inherent danger to this type of book where the main character can get exceedingly irritating to the reader by whining about their situations or over-narrating in their heads. Yet that doesn’t happen in Hatchet. I loved the different strategies that Paulsen uses to narrate the story, but the best is that Brian stays so task-oriented throughout the book. Brian’s story comes down to one important aspect: survival. As he strives to survive in the wilderness he narrows his tasks down to the most basic needs: Step one, water. Step two, shelter. Step three, food. Reading Brian’s voice as he stays so focused on the tasks at hand made me focus on these tasks too and kept my attention on surviving. As each step prompted Brian to move to the next, so did the narration prompt me through the story. The narration is simple, and focused, and I will forever love the style of this book.

This is one of those books that is entertaining for all ages. It is a thrilling story about survival, overcoming obstacles, and learning from your surroundings. The book has some truly terrifying moments, but it makes all the small victories taste even sweeter. I happily recommend this to any reader thrilled by the idea of being dropped into a Canadian forest with nothing but a hatchet.

Rating: 5 / 5

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“He was flying but did not know where, had no idea where he was going. He looked at the dashboard of the plane, studied the dials and hoped to get some help, hoped to find a compass, but it was all so confusing, a jumble of numbers and lights. One lighted display in the top corner of the dashboard said the number 342, another next to it said 22. Down beneath that were dials with lines that seemed to indicate what the winds were doing, tipping or moving, and one dial with a needle pointing to the number 70, which he thought – only thought – might be the altimeter.” p 14


“With his mind opened and thoughts happening it all tried to come in with a rush, all of what had occurred and he could not take it. The whole thing turned into a confused jumble that made no sense. So he fought it down and tried to take one thing at a time. […]
Slow down, he thought. Slow down more.
My name is Brian Robeson and I am thirteen years old and I am alone in the north woods of Canada.
All right, he thought, that’s simple enough.
I was flying to visit my father and the plane crashed and sank in a lake.
There, keep it that way. Short thoughts.
I do not know where I am.” p 43





Eye of the Labyrinth – Jennifer Fallon

eye-of-the-labyrinthOn the Cover: Since the Age of Shadows ended, the people of Ranadon have lived under the merciless heat of two suns and the tyranny of Antonov, the Lion of Senet. Consumed by his lust for power and his unshakable belief in the capricious, almighty Goddess, Antonov’s rule is absolute. Only one man has the intelligence and will to break that hold… a man who could be King.

Suddenly widowed, Morna Provin, Duchess of Elcast, has lost her only protector. With her son banished for an unspeakable crime, she faces a horrifying fate at the hands of the Lion of Senet as retribution for her relationship with the heretic Johan Thorn. But it is only part of a cunning scheme to lure her son, Dirk Provin, back into the fold so Antonov can consolidate his power once and for all.

With his mother’s life at stake, Dirk Provin must emerge from hiding in the Baenlands and return to Elcast – setting in motion a rebellion that will expose long-buried secrets and ignite festering hatreds. For a ruler’s fears and a madman’s prophecy will start Dirk on a quest for truth that will spark a fierce battle between two very different men: one who believes only what his five senses tell him, the other obsessed by his faith in the divine. It is a clash that will bring to light a revelation that may shatter them all.

Published: 2004

Other Books in this Series:

Lion of Senet



The Review:

I totally appreciate Jennifer Fallon’s writing. The depth and vibrancy of the world she has created made it incredibly easy to step into this book despite how long it has been since I read the last one. This novel only serves to expand on what she presented within the first book, and with a wide array of characters, a rich landscape and deeply intriguing religious and political systems, Eye of the Labyrinth delivers on all levels.

The further I read in this book the more excited I got. Dirk Proven reaches the Labyrinth and between him and the Eye lays a path riddled with traps and puzzles. I absolutely loved the archeological feel of the adventure and the mystery of the puzzles, yet the solid foundation of religion and politics lent serious implications to the discoveries made in the Labyrinth.


While I was disappointed that Dirk’s short time at the Labyrinth – I could have read an entire book that took place there – I was really impressed with this story. The novel does a great job of both expanding on the character story lines from the first novel while also paving the way into the final book. The book really builds up the plot and raises expectations for the conclusion in the third novel. I am looking forward to reading this next novel, and cannot wait for it to come in to the library so I can get my hands on it! Definitely check this one out if you are a fan of fantasy stories rich in political motivations and history told through puzzles.

Rating: 4 / 5