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The River (A Hatchet Adventure) Hardcover – May 1, 1991
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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.
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Top Customer Reviews
I have now finished all five of the Brian Sage books - “Hatchet,” “The River,” “Brian’s Winter,” “Brian's Return” and “The Hunt.” and the epilogue “Guts” by Gary Paulsen. “The Hatchet” is one of three Newberry Awards that Gary Paulsen has earned.
Basically the series is one story. The story of an teenage boy who at age 13 is left alone in the North Woods of Canada due to a pilot’s fatal heart attack and plane wreck. The first book, “The Hatchet” tells of the guts, intelligence, patience and luck of a 13 year old boy with little wilderness experience in learning how to live and survive in a remote wilderness. We get a marvelous set of instructions in wilderness lore and living, and a glimpse into an intelligent mind that problem solves, learns and masters a strange world. At the end of this book Brian retrieves a signal radio from the submerged plane and is rescued.
In “Brian’s Winter” is an alternate ending. Brian is not rescued, but manages to learn more and survive into December. We see more of Brian’s talents and abilities and new found skills. Here, Brian stumbles into a family of Cree Native Americans manning a trap line, who take him in. Brian flies out on the next supply place. The Cree family consider him like one of the “old people” for Brian is dressed in skins he has captured and his arrows have stone points he has made himself. Yes, some of the story is very fortuitous for Brian, but that does not distract from the lessons of the wilderness and the lessons of life Brian has to learn to survive.
“The River” is a book with Brian returning to the North Woods with a psychologist, Derek, of the military attempting to learn how to teach survival to the military. The man is not schooled in the wilderness at all, and Brian become “the adult” in charge of the adventure. Brian sends the 200 pounds of supplies back with the plane that flew them in, and commences to recreate the world he knew in the first two books. Half the book is a terrifying trip over 100 miles, 3+ days, down a river, its rapids, lakes and swamps, with Derek unconscious on a wilderness made raft. We get a first hand look at the guts necessary to achieve this. Again, the manage to make a trapper’s cabin and are rescued.
In “Brian’s Return” we see Brian not fitting back into civilization, 15 - 16 year old’s school and society. Brian has adjusted to the Wilderness, and that is the reality he much prefers. Brian takes along a few supplies an d does very well.
In “The Hunt” Brian is back in the North Woods learning more woods lore and ways. By now he is nearly a expert. Brian finds an old man, Billy, in his camp one evening. Billy and Brian share a mutual evening of silent communication and while few words are exchanged, Brian gains “medicine.”’ In respect, Billy, leaving camp very early before Brian is awake, leaves a amulet of white tail deer fur and crow’s feathers for Brian. Brian recognizes the significance of this and immediately hangs it around his neck. Shortly thereafter, Brian and a wounded dog find each other. It turns out the dog belonged to the Cree Family Brian had met in “Brian’s Winter.” Unfortunately, a bear had devastated the cabin and family of the Cree family , killing two members of that family. Brian rescues the wife, buries the dead, and deals with the stoic, bureaucratic officials. Once they leave, Brian hunts and in a wonderful scene - which I will not spoil - kills the bear.
“Guts” is stories from Gary Paulsen’s life, rough childhood, adventures in Minnesota, Canada, the American South West, Colorado. These episodes Gary wove into Brian’s Story - a story beautifully and touchingly told. Gary’s knowledge and actual experiences gave him the insight to write the Brian Saga. Not only is the woods lore appropriately, accurately and well handled, but the changes that the North Woods induces in Brian are well followed. The books are at once a deep lesson in both survival and in life. We learn much about wilderness living. But we also are treated to the contrasts of life in the city and in the Wilderness.
Due a few violent scenes, this series should not be read by youth under 13 or so. Death is a part of life, and life is an endless living with what is there. It takes “guts”, perseverance, and patience, to achieve what Brian achieved, and that is the real message of these books. Life takes Real Guts,lots of perseverance, and lots of patience.
The books read very well. The stories are well told. The reading level is at least 8th grade. And for those with an interest in Nature and the Wilderness, be it North Woods, SW desert or ocean, the lessons apply. I found the reading to be extremely enjoyable, and the lessons deep and well taught without being preachy. A great series of books.
This book gives life to Brian and through hatchet did the same this book put Brian in a situation where he had to care for himself and someone else.... though as good as this book is I feel it did not capture the survival situation that they went to do. Yes with the emergency of Derek being in a coma lead to the rafting down a river but they never really reach their destination of the trade post, considering dereks condition this is understandable. Only part that wasn't really realistic was he never stopped for food with all that work all those hours he would have needed to eat to keep up his energy to do so. Like I said however this is still one of my favorite books
This is the sequel to and should be read after "Hatchet." The River takes place a year later. In Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian survives for 54 days in the Canadian wilderness alone. The next summer the military hires Brian to do it again with one of them taking notes so they can train other people how to survive. Because it will help save lives, Brian agrees to do it. He and Derek fly to a different area in the Canadian wilderness. While there lightning strikes Derek causing a coma. The radio is also broken. Brian decides to build a raft to take them down the river to get help since Derek will die in a few days without water.
I loved Hatchet. This was enjoyable but not as good. I enjoy being with Brian as he thinks and acts in the survival environment. This book didn't have as many episodes or scenes with different animals and threats as the first book. In other words - not as many problems to solve and Brian didn't learn or grow as much as he did in the first book. So, not a lot happens here but I still liked it.
The book is shorter than standard novels. The narrator Peter Coyote was excellent.
The author wrote many books, but the Hatchet series consists of:
5 stars. Hatchet (read first)
5 stars. Brian's Winter (read second or third but I prefer second)
3 stars. The River (read second or third)
4 stars. Brian's Return
3 stars. Brian's Hunt
Unabridged audiobook length: 2 hrs and 31 mins. Narrator: Peter Coyote. Swearing language: none. Sexual content: none. Setting: current day mostly the Canadian wilderness. Copyright: probably 1991. Genre: young adult adventure fiction.
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