I feel like I say this every time I write a new post, but it has been so long since I’ve been able to sit down and write a review! I’ve been so busy with school (my teachers think it’s cool to assign 100 pages of reading that is due within two days) and working on my YouTube channel. But I have several reviews lined up, and they will be posted in the coming weeks. So let’s get into the review!
On my car ride to Chicago over Spring Break, I read Hatchet by Gary Paulsen. This fulfilled the Newberry award winner category for my TBR challenge (this book won in 1987). I read this book in one day, but that was mainly because it was short and I had a lot of time to read. I ended up giving this book a 3/5 stars; it wasn’t the best Newberry book I’ve ever read, but it also wasn’t the worse.
Hatchet follows the story of Brian, who is going to visit his father in Canada. But before he can get there, the pilot of the plane he is riding in has a heart attack, and Brian must land the plane even though he has no experience with flying planes. Brian crash lands in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with no way to contact the outside world or let his dad know where he is or what happened. For the next couple months, Brian must learn how to survive in the wilderness on his own and face the dangers of being cut off from civilization.
While I did not love this book, there were some good elements to it (it did win a Newberry after all, so it does have to be at least half way decent). I liked seeing Brian’s determination to survive on his own and his will to succeed. I know that if I was put into this situation, I would probably die pretty soon because I have no survival skills. And in the beginning, Brian struggles. He comes from the city, and he has no idea how to make a fire or gather food for himself. But as his need to survive kicks in, he learns how to adapt to his elements and make a life for himself. And I like how even after he is rescued, he still remembers his time in the wilderness and never really returns to his pre-experience, city-boy mindset on life. I think this book shows readers that they are stronger than they think, and with determination and grit, they too can survive on their own.
But I did have some problems with this book. Brian’s transition from city boy to wilderness survivor seemed too quick. There isn’t much on Brian’s life before the story starts, but it is clear that he likes being a city boy, and he has no inkling of how to survive on his own in the elements. And it seemed like in no time at all, Brian was learning how to make fires, catch food, and build shelters. Yes, I do understand that presented with these circumstances, people’s survival mode would kick in and they would probably adapt quickly. But Brian is thirteen years old who definitely was not a Boy Scout. And I will acknowledge that Brian did struggle in the beginning. I would have just liked to see a little more development before Brian turned into one of the Alaskan Bush people.
My other problem with the book is that the scary situations that Brian finds himself in are not scary to me. At one point, Brian is confronted by a bear, and the scene ends very quickly with no real tension. And this might be because this is a middle-grade book, and I am nineteen years old. Paulsen may not have wanted to include violence because of the average age of his audience. But even in middle-grade books (I’m thinking of Percy Jackson and Harry Potter), there is still scary stuff that happens and there is enough conflict and tension in the scene to make it feel scary. Maybe if I had read this book when I was younger, I would not have had the same thoughts, but reading it now, I do think that the action filled moments could have been developed more.
Overall, this was a good coming of age story about becoming your own person and finding your inner strength. I would definitely recommend it to young boys who like Daniel Boone and other stories like that. And this is a five book series, so if you like Brian’s story in Hatchet, there is plenty of material to keep you occupied. I don’t think I will be reading the rest of the series, but I am glad that I read Hatchet. It was a nice break from the heavier YA books that I normally read.
Like I said at the beginning, I have several more reviews coming soon, so be looking out for those. And if you like Hamilton, be sure to check out my vlog of seeing the play in Chicago and my review of Alex and Eliza by Melissa de la Cruz coming on my YouTube channel soon!
Until next time, happy reading!