Thursday, June 25, 2009

Brian's Winter - Gary Paulsen

Brian's Winter
Gary Paulsen
Laurel Leaf
Copyright Date: 1996

According to the cover of Brian's Winter:
In Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian Robeson learned to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness, armed only with his hatchet. Finally, as millions of readers know, he was rescued at the end of the summer. But what if Brian hadn't been rescued? What if he had been left to face his deadliest enemy--winter?

Gary Paulsen raises the stakes for survival in this riveting and inspiring story as one boy confronts the ultimate test and the ultimate adventure.

Brian's Winter is something unusual. Yes, it's part of the series begun with Hatchet, and yes, there's nothing extraordinary about it being a children's/teens book, but this is the only time I've read something like this before. What makes Brian's Winter unique in my experience is that it is an "alternate universe" type story going "what if.

In this case, the question is "what if Brian wasn't rescued at the end of the summer. How would he survive the fall and the winter?", so in this book, the final pages of Hatchet are ignored.

Just reading about the weather in the Canadian wilderness in winter made me shiver. I've read about trees exploding, but Gary Paulsen's descriptions were so vivid I could almost see it happening, along with other incidents such as the skunk.

As with the previous two books in the series: Hatchet and The River, I found Brian's thought processes as the story progressed to be one of the best things about the book.

There were times while I was reading this book that I felt like shouting at Brian that winter was coming and he'd better start planning for it, but that may simply have been because I'm older than the target audience by a fair margin. Regardless, the story was absolutely gripping (the whole series really), and I stayed up far too late last night in order to read all of the books in one sitting.

With each of the books being around a hundred and fifty pages, that was definitely an easy feat, and one I don't regret. On the other hand, it makes separating my impressions of the separate books somewhat difficult.

Other books in the series:
The River
Brian's Hunt
Brian's Winter
Brian's Return
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