Going to do this one in a different format and there will be spoilers ahead.
No……just, no. Stay away. Save yourself! What did I just read?! How is this even published? Mistakes were made, and the first was that I read this book. I can’t unread it! Make it go away……….
Ahem…..Sorry about that.
I love Hatchet and some of the others were good too, but this…….was nothing like them except that it’s about a young teen and the woods. First it’s really, really dark from the instant it starts. John is an orphan who is raised by his grandparents and his grandpa has 2 months to live. Bam! End Chapter 1.
Ok, so it’s a little dark in the beginning. The main focus is going to be how John copes and comes to terms with it all, right?
Ya……..That is the focus, but it’s not a healthy experience. John goes hunting without his grandfather for the first time, and everything is gone much as I would expect until he tracks down a deer but can’t bring himself to shoot it. In some weird crazed part of his brain he thinks he needs to “touch” the deer to cheat death and then his grandpa won’t die……
So, he chases it into the ground.
Two days and a night of tracking/walking down this deer. No sleep, no food, no water, and 36 hours of being chased by something it thinks wants to kill and eat it. And this is portrayed as being better than just shooting it…..As a positive experience!
I seriously thought the deer was going to keel over and die to teach him his lesson. But no. It survives and nothing changes and he goes home to have his epiphany that death happens to everyone eventually. Some how his great feat of torture brings them all some kind of closure. And this is better than the guy who thinks hunting makes him a man, that killing deer proves his skill and knowledge that is described in the book with such disdain?
Lastly, the style and prose that were used were very questionable. Things have changed over time, I get that. But if this was the first thing I’d read from Mr. Paulsen I would assume he was a dirty old perv who likes to get a little too close with the wilderness. And this is targeted at young teens.
I guess I’m just in a state of shock. I don’t get how anyone thinks this book is good. It directly and actively contradicts itself and everything I’d come to associate with Mr. Paulsen……..Betrayed. That’s it, I feel betrayed. Somehow, personally back-stabbed and betrayed. It’s irrational, but I can’t shake it.
In summary, stay away, stay far away! Go read Hatchet.