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Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Goodreads | Eric_W Welch (Forreston, IL)'s review of Hatchet

Goodreads | Eric_W Welch (Forreston, IL)'s review of Hatchet:


As many of you might know, I abhor the YA designation, believing it to be a form of segregation that simply makes it a target for the Comstockians of the world, witness recent calls for YA books to be more wholesome and less dark. That many so-called YA titles deal with issues that should be of concern to teens seems of little concern to those who want to prevent their sixteen-year-olds from reading about what they experience everyday.  The YA designation, I suspect, has, in the past, steered many adult readers away from books so designated, not wanting to be seen as stooping below their level. (I use young adult and adult only in their chronological sense, certainly not from the standpoint of maturity level.)

Our reading club decided to discuss a couple of books that had been enjoyed by some of our members from that standpoint. We chose two:  Hatchet and [book:Waiting to Forget|11969802] (review to follow), each in its own way a survival novel, both in a wilderness, but one made of trees, the other of people.

The differences are substantial with Waiting to Forget much more adult both in content and style. Hatchet is a great story for 10 year-olds (and young 60 year-olds) about a young boy (age thirteen) being sent to his father in Canada following a nasty divorce. The pilot of the single engined plane dies of a heart attack, and young Brian must find a way to stay alive in the wilderness (a remarkably non-hostile environment with the exception of a moose and tornado) with only a hatchet fortuitously given to him by his mother for survival.  The book is told in third-person from Brian’s perspective so it’s hardly a spoiler to say young Brian, a very smart kid, indeed, survives by using his wits and, fortuitously, the hatchet given to him by his mother as a present before he left to visit his father.

It's a good survival story although some of the elements like "the Secret" were peripheral and distracted from the story line.  The Epilogue was totally unnecessary and redundant, I thought.  The last line before it would have made a perfect ending.  My understanding is that Paulson followed up with the success of Hatchet with a couple of sequels.

As I read this enjoyable little book, I wondered if Paulson had become enamored of Tom Brown who achieved some fame as being a great “tracker” and wilderness expert. Raised in the Jersey Pine Barrens, he was ostensibly the grandson of an Apache named “Stalking Wolf.”(I'm not kidding.)  Brown wrote several pieces on wilderness survival for Mother Jones in the eighties.  I remember several nature types on the faculty asking me to order his books many years ago, although the luster seemed to tarnish some when it was learned Brown was fond of smoking.

Looking up Tom Brown for this review I discovered he has capitalized on his knowledge. http://www.trackertrail.com/tombrown/controversies/cult.

Tom Brown books:  [book:Tom Brown's Field guide to wilderness survival|2642931] and [book:Tracker|7154395] and [book:Tom Brown's Field Guide To Living With The Earth|380614]




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