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Hatchet - Gary Paulsen

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

When I was a kid, I had this thing about not reading books that everyone around me was reading. Sometimes I regret this choice. This is one of those times.

I'm not sure if I would like this book better as a kid (or if I could have even finished it), but it probably would have been easier to get into Brian's head at the time. Reading this as an adult was frustrating. While I am not a survivalist and would probably die within days of being stranded in the wilderness, there are things you just pick up as an adult that a 13-year-old kid in 1987 might not know (signs of a heart attack, not to eat berries you can't identify, what tracks leading to a pile of sand by a lake could possibly indicate). While listening to this audiobook, I found myself screaming in the car about multiple idiotic things Brian did ("Don't eat those freaking berries! Slow your roll, bub! You're going to get diarrhea! "). Beyond frustrating. But as a 13-year-old, I probably wouldn't have known those things either.

The thing that redeemed this book for me was that, while Brian started out as an annoyingly sheltered city kid in the beginning (whose biggest problem is his parents' divorce and "The Secret"- neither of which seem like that big of a deal nowadays), he does learn and mature and becomes bearable by the end. 

Overall, the book was pretty slow and repetitive, much like being abandoned in the wilderness, I suppose. Even though the audiobook was only 3.5 hours, it felt much longer. The narration was sort of stream-of-consciousness in third person, which got really repetitive because everything is just connected with "and" and Brian never stops thinking about "The Secret". 

But after a while, you get caught up in the story and want to know what happens next. Again, sometimes Brian drives you crazy ("What are you doing? Build a freaking signal fire! Stop messing around with arrows!"). When talking with my husband about it, he said he loved the "survival" books as a kid, because it felt like a game, and often that's how Brian's adventure reads. He's just messing around half the time spending hours making a pretty spear that doesn't even work. Trial and error, you idiot. Even the ending was kind of annoying.




Brian's eventual rescue was a bit of a let down. He just kind of accidentally gets rescue because he's too busy messing around making the perfect spear and taking forever to figure out there is probably something useful in the darn plane. Even in the hard times, it just felt like a little kid messing around in the woods. 




But overall, interesting story. 

Also, quick note on the audiobook itself: it is read by Peter Coyote, who reads it well, but his voice is very low. This made it difficult to hear at times and I had to crank the volume up. This would be fine except the book is enhanced with music so all of a sudden you have this suspenseful music blaring and covering up the words. (And I almost went deaf when I started playing a different audiobook and forgot to turn the volume back down to a normal level.) So the reading was good, but the low voice was very hard for me to hear.