From Publishers Weekly
Nearly two years after being marooned in the wilderness--the experience recounted in Hatchet --Brian agrees to go back, accompanied by Derek, a psychologist who wants to study the strategies and especially the mental toughness that brought Brian through. At first he chafes at the relative comforts, the lack of true challenge, this second time around. All that changes when Derek is struck by lightning and falls into a coma--Brian must raft Derek to the nearest outpost, 100 miles downriver. In attempting this sequel Paulsen has set himself a difficult task, which he meets superbly. The new adventure is as riveting as its predecessor and yet, because of significant differences in the nature of its dramatic tension, is not merely a clone. The experiences of Hatchet , distilled by time, inform Brian's character throughout, so that the psychological terrain of the sequel is fresh and distinct. The older Brian is more reflective and accepting, and these qualities add new dimensions to his interactions with nature. And returning to the north effects a subtle but startling change: instantly, almost unconsciously, Brian finds himself absorbing every detail of the scene around him--taking the scent of the wind, reading the shape of each cloud--and in the process turning inward, finding words superfluous in the face of the wild. There is no dearth of action and physical suspense here, rendered in terse, heart-stopping prose. Paulsen, as always, pulls no punches: a scene in which Brian fantasizes about cutting Derek loose from the raft is as powerful as they come. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A sequel to the most popular of Paulsen's three Newbery Honor books (Hatchet, 1987), based on an unlikely premise-- government researchers want Brian to reenact his northwoods survival so that his strategies can be observed and taught to others. Derek, a young psychologist, and Brian are dropped off at another Canadian lake, near the first one, equipped only with knives and a radio that Derek has promised not to use except in a dire emergency. Everything goes all too smoothly until their camp is struck by lightning, zapping the radio and leaving Derek in a coma. Brian manages to float Derek 100 miles down a river to a trading post, thus saving his life. The lyrically described details of Brian's adventure-- building a fire, making a raft--are of most interest here; for all its graphically evoked perils (rapids, the craft's unwieldiness, exhaustion), the journey's successful outcome seems less in doubt than did the outcome of the compelling autobiographical wilderness experiences described in Woodsong (1990). In Hatchet, Brian discovered his own strength, adding depth, complexity, and tension to the story; here, that strength is a given--as he himself points out. Perfunctory in design but vividly written, a book that will, as intended, please the readers who hoped that Paulsen, like Brian, would ``do it again.'' (Fiction. 11-14) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.