Novel: Hatchet Author: Gary Paulsen Lexile Level: 1020 Many have encouraged me to read Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, finally I decided to give it a try. I’m not a huge fan of reading, however I was told that I would thoroughly enjoy every page of what was described as an “edge of my seat” read. I love a good book that puts you on edge and makes one feel like he or she absolutely must know the events on the next page. Therefore, how could I turn down a persuasion like that? I had to get a hold of this fictional novel.
Brian Robeson, the main character of the novel, is a thirteen year old boy from New York City. His parents are divorced, and Brian’s recent discovery of his mother’s affair weighs heavily on him. Brian boards a small, two-person plane headed toward the Canadian woods to visit his father. While flying, Brian receives a quick lecture on how to fly the plane. The pilot experiences some pain in his shoulder, arm, and stomach, but Brian dismisses it as nothing serious. Soon after, the pilot begins to jerk in his seat, he has a heart attack and dies quickly.
Brian is forced to take control of the plane, however he cannot fly it successfully and the plane crashes into a lake in the Canadian woods. Brian survives the crash with minor injuries, however he has no food and little experience in the wilderness. Brian assumes he will be rescued soon by a search plane, however he is wrong. Brian Robeson is stranded in the woods for fifty-four days. Brian undergoes many hardships, makes many mistakes, but through each mistake learns.
Brian makes his first mistake when he eats some unidentifiable berries he finds that later make him very ill. Brian makes plenty of other mistakes during his fifty-four day stay in the wilderness. While stranded, a plane flies over Brian giving him a sliver of hope. The plane does not stop, however, and continues on its way leaving Brian devastated. At one point, Brian decides to attempt suicide, he survives his attempted suicide and becomes determined to win this battle with wilderness. A blessing in disguise attacks Brian one night in the Canadian woods.
A tornado blows through the woods and destroys Brian’s shelter. After the storm, Brian sees that the storm blew up the tail end of the plane. Brian takes a few days to construct a raft in order to reach the wreckage and search for any useful resources. He finds a survival pack that contains multiple useful items including freeze-dried food. He also finds an emergency transmitter and precedes to attempt to use it to be rescued. He believes his attempt was unsuccessful, however soon after Brian is rescued.
This novel certainly had me on the edge of my seat. Every page unveiled a new obstacle that Brian had to overcome in order to survive. It did not take long for Brian to capture my heart and before I knew it as I was reading I was indirectly cheering him on in his battle for survival. I was very intrigued by how much Brian had changed from beginning to end. By the conclusion, Brian had learned to respect and adore every aspect of the wilderness. An uncanny respect for the wilderness had emerged in Brian throughout his journey.
Even after being rescued, when Brian returned to New York City and his modern-day life, Brian never thought of nature in the same way. Brian develops the ability to be patient and extremely observant. The wilderness had changed Brian forever. While reading the novel I began to develop a new look on nature. However we cannot begin to grasp what true wilderness is like as long as we live in a modern day city. This book gave me a curiosity, and I almost caught myself wanting to be put into a situation like Brian’s. That soon, however faded simply because I’m still much too independent.