The River: Grades 7-8

ISBN: 1561376116
ISBN 13: 9781561376117
By: Gary Paulsen

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Adventure Childrens Currently Reading Fiction Realistic Fiction Series Survival To Read Ya Young Adult

About this book

We want you to do it again." These words, spoken to Brian Robeson, will change his life. Two years earlier, Brian was stranded alone in the wilderness for 54 days with nothing but a small hatchet. Yet he survived.Now the government wants him to go back into the wilderness so that astronauts and the military can learn the survival techniques that kept Brian alive. Soon the project backfires, though, leaving Brian with a wounded partner and a long river to navigate. His only hope is to build a raft and try to transport the injured man a hundred miles downstream to a trading post--if the map he has is accurate."From the Paperback edition.

Reader's Thoughts


This book is truly great. For those who want to read it, here is what happens. The story begins when Brian Robeson, who survived for fifty four days in the woods of Canada was encountered by three men that wanted him to do that again. At first he says no, but then he was convinced that he could do it and decided to. Of course he had done hardcore begging to his divorced parents. In a few months, Brian would go to the woods with one of the three men and he will study him for military training purposes. Finally the day came and Brian Robeson went back to where he had just come from. Since this was planned, they were equipped with lots of equipment and many things for any emergency. Even though it was a promise to his mom, Brian decided to leave all the equipment except the knifes and the radio. They would stay 54 days in the Northern woods so Brian could be studied. On the first night, They both slept with fire nor shelter, so they got wet and swollen up by Mosquitoes. On the second day though, their luck changed greatly, they found rocks used to make fire, a shelter enough for to and lots of berries for food. At almost the end of the trip, a terrifying storm came and lightning struck right next to Derek(the person that was studying Brian) and destroying the Radio. Derek was in Coma and the radio got destroyed. Brian finds a map in Derek's briefcase and used it to find a way to where civilization was. He makes a raft and sets of to a Trading Center. Read the book to see what finds out in the end.

Sam Schoenick

I read the book The River by Gary Paulsen. This book is an exceptionally good book. Gary Paulsen does a good job of describing the settings and what takes place in the book. The characters are very well described and fit the role in the book very well.Brian who is the main character in this book fits the role perfectly. Brian is a high school kid who was stuck in the wild in a book before this. Brian has a very strong personality and is very strong as an individual. Brian has had a lot of things put on his shoulders since he got out of the wild. Another character named Derek who is a scientist asks Brian if he wants to relive his experience in the wild. Brian does not know what to say to Derek. Derek is a very strong willed guy that will not give up when it comes to something big like he is forced to do now.During the book Brian has to decide if he wants to go back into the wild and relive his experience. It is a tough decision for Brian because he had to go through so much by himself. Brian decides to go through with the idea and he grows so much as a character going with another person. This book ends really good and has a strong influence on a lot of kids ages 14 to 18. Males would really like this book because there is a lot of action. This book has a rating of about 4 because there is a lot of good describing details and great characters to fit the roles.


brian is such a tool. only maybe it's not brian's fault, maybe it's gary paulsen's fault for really trying to determine the limits of a reader's tolerance. i am comfortable with suspending disbelief - i watched lost well past the comfort point because of some innate need to see something through to its end (thanks, dad!) that impulse applies here as well - i will read all the books in this damn series because, like kasia, i can't NOT read them. fortunately, these only take about an hour to read, and they do feed my greedy survivalist bug, so there's somewhat of a purpose to it all.however. i have to call "bullshit". hatchet i can understand: small plane - pilot has heart attack - brian is stranded in the wilderness with nothing and must learn to live in the wild. awesome. this one: brian is in a different wilderness with a man who works for the government to re-enact the experiment for the benefit of psychology and its applications etc. etc. and then lightning strikes old government johnny and he goes into lightning coma (this is all on the back of the book, relax) but really?? lightning?? brian, there's a point where you have to stop and think that maybe you're the bad seed in these scenarios. maybe just being near you leads to disaster, and the wilderness is the best place for you, where you can't destroy anybody else. think about it. but at least there is this: "Out here, in nature, in the world, food is everything. All the other parts of what we are, what everything is, don't matter without food. I read somewhere that all of what man is, everything man has always been or will be, all the thoughts and dreams and sex and hate and every little and big thing is dependent on six inches of topsoil and rain when you need it to make a crop grow - food ...that's all i did - think about food. You watch other animals, birds, fish, even down to ants - they spend all their time working at food. Getting something to eat.That's what nature is, really - getting food. And when you're out here, having to live, you look for food. Food first. Food. Food.and me, stuffed on french toast and grapefruit, would have to agree.

Lisa Tortorello

After reading Hatchet with my class this year, they showed a great interest in learning more about the character of Brian Robeson. This prompted me to read The River with my class as well. Gary Paulsen does an excellent job sharing the trials and triumphs Brian encounters when he is asked to go back to the wilderness to show government psychologist Derek Holtzer how he survived. Brian is convinced of two things: going back in the wilderness is insane and he has no choice about going back in the wilderness if it may help someone else in the future. Once they arrive, Brian feels that this time everything is too staged and too perfect until Derek ends up being struck by lightening which results in him being in a coma. Brian now has to think on his feet not only for his survival, but for that of Derek's as well. Paulsen captures the reader with his story and details and makes you feel like you are right along side Brian in his quest to survive!The character of Brian Robeson is one that middle school students can identify with and the lessons Brian learns and teaches the readers throughout his stories are timeless.

Jason Darnell

"The River" By Gary Paulsen is sort of like a follow up to his earlier award winning book "The Hatchet". In this epic thrilling book Brian, the main character, is headed back to the wilderness to do it all over again. Of course he's not doing this under his free will, the government has asked him to do go back so that they can study the techniques that kept Brian alive. These techniques will be used by the military and astronauts who need these skills to survive. But Brian isn't going alone, he is accompanied by a government psychologist, Derek, who is observing him and taking notes.Derek doesn't really understand the true methods of survival. He has brought along with them food and emergency supplies that will be of much help. But Brian refuses to use any of these items, becuase he knows that in a real life stuation, they wouldn't be there. The wilderness is not fit for Derek. The mosquitos devour him at night and the sun beats down all day. Brian catches all the food and builds the shelter. One night, during a horrific storm, Derek is struck by lightning. This is no longer a simulation in the woods, its now life a or death situation. Brian needs to transport Derek to a hospital because he's in a coma. The only way to do this is by building a raft and sailing down the treachorous river to get to the nearest trading post. if his map his accurate he might succeed but if not, Derek will surely die. In an incredible effort to save Derek Brian travels for days finding the trading post. He goes through many obstacles but succeeds and saves Derk's life. I thought this was a great book because now Brian not only had to care for himself, but he had to care for Derek who was in a coma. He had to take on the extra burden of another person as well as himself and he did it. The plotline of the story was excellent and I liked how it developed. A real page turner indeed

Travis Bughi

I didn't find this book nearly as riveting as the first and third one. I actually read this book after reading #1 and #3, so this book took an entirely different turn in my opinion. Brian was now not just trying to save himself, alone in the wilderness, he was also responsible for the life of another.This story didn't resonate with me that well. I was used to, liked, and wanted to read more about Brain vs nature on his own grounds. However, there was still plenty of danger, excitement, and hair-raising death-defying acts that kept me turning the pages. At the end of this novel though, my desire to continue on ended. I didn't pick up Brain's saga #4 or #5.

Mark Wilkerson

Hatchet was one of my favorite books as a young boy; it fed my desire to travel far away from my suburban existence to face the unknown. And here was a boy forced into extraordinary circumstances who survived! I didn't care that it was fiction and highly unlikely at times. I teach Hatchet now to my 7th graders and they enjoy it (especially the boys) for the same reasons I did.I only recently discovered that Gary Paulsen wrote several sequels to Hatchet, three now to be exact. So I re-read Hatchet and then prepared to continue on new adventures into the wild with Brian Robeson; except that, from the first page, something about this story is not quite right.It starts with a ridiculous premise: A team of adults comes to Brian to admit that "we (being THE Army, THE astronauts, very vague here) pretend to survive. But nobody in our field has ever had to do it....We want you to teach us. Not from a book...but really teach us." This is just too much to believe. Having been in the U.S. Army, I can say that there is little here that Brian could actually teach a group of specially-trained adults about survival. But, I understand, it's a YA book, the premise can be silly (I guess, though I expect better from Paulsen); nevertheless, I soldiered on. Soon enough, Brian finds himself with an odd companion in the wild. I say "odd" because he is with a psychologist, you know, one with a PhD, but this man speaks with child-like wonder and follows Brian around writing down all of Brian's thoughts and actions, however trivial they might be...and they are trivial, believe me! Anyway, disaster soon strikes the extremely child-like pyschologist and Brian is left to save the day, in a plot that winds and weaves and rolls lazily by like the river that this story is appropriately named after. This story is smaller in scope, covering a mere couple of days, one week at the most, whereas the first novel covered a span of nearly two months. Prepare yourself for that, readers, and be prepared for a let-down.There are some issues that I'm not used to experiencing in a Gary Paulsen story; there is no real tension in the story; no real build-up to a climax; no real character development of Brian or any at all from his companion. Part of what made Hatchet so readable was that Brian discovered something new about himself and about his environment every moment he was in the wild. Here, Brian just states words along the likes of 'I've been here before." So have I, the reader, and I expected more. This feels like a cash-grab by Paulsen; there was no reason for this book to be written. I hope for better from the other sequels, and, again, I expect better from Gary Paulsen...


I thought Hatchet was great and Brian's Winter was just as believable. Alas, The River falls short. As others have commented, the setup feels contrived - the government needs a boy to teach adults how to survive in the wild? Whatever. The extent to which Brian comes across as some kind of wilderness superman starts to feel ridiculous, and then there's hardly anything to the story before the lightning strike catastrophe. Probably the bit I found the most silly was Brian swimming down river to catch up with the raft. Um, yeah.

Sheriden Haase

Brian Robeson has survived 44 days in the northern countryside with only a hatchet. Now the astronaunts want him to do it again to learn how he managed to do this. Brian was given a partner named Derick who would take notes on what he was doing. Something tragic happens and Brian has to save Derick. Derick fell into a coma and he needs medical treatment before six days, or he will die. Brian finds a map of the closest river so he builds a raft. He travels a long way down river with his partner at his side, waiting to see civilization. This book is basically another "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen, but Brian is put up to the task to save Derick. There was not as much excitement, danger, or caution as Hatchet, but it showed how Brian Robeson can make it out alive even in the harshest conditions. The theme of this novel is that Brian Robeson and Derick are at a life or death situtaion. Brian is to show Derick how Brian made it 44 days in the cold with only a hatchet. I would recommend this book to all aged men because it shows how a young boy can survive with only a few tools. This boy survived a plane crash, 44 days with only a hatchet against the elements and animals, and a raging river.


“The River” This book by Gary Paulsen entitled “The River” is the second book of his series which followed “The Hatchet”. I think you will enjoy Paulsen’s book about bravery, determination, and the strong will to survive. The book begins with Brian at his home where he is approached by two government agents and a psychologist that want him to go back out into the wild. Brian not only survived a plane crash two years prior but was able to survive being stranded on an island for 56 days. The agents would like him to return to where he was stranded, along with Derek, the psychologist, so he take notes on all the things Brian uses in order to survive. They would use this information to teach military and astronauts, different ways of survival. After Brian convinces his Mom that he must do this because he may be the only one that can, they take a private plane and are left in the wilderness alone. Derek has his pen and notebook ready to capture all of the things that Brian does in order to stay alive. Soon after arriving to the wilderness, a storm that Brian believes will pass over them, turns into a fierce thunderstorm. Derek and Brian both awaken to lightning and the sound of thunder. Derek reaches for the emergency radio when a bolt of lightning hits a large tree and travels down the tree and strikes Derek. Brian believes that Derek is dead but figures out that he is actually in a coma. Brian realizes the psychologist does not have much time and in order to save him, he will need to build a raft so he is able to get him down the river to the Brannock Trading Post. During his journey, he experiences many challenges that could have taken his life and the life of the psychologist. Brian was never willing to give up and let mother nature win. I enjoyed the book because it kept you thinking about what may happen next. Brian had not only kept himself alive but he had to worry about saving someone he barely knew. It showed his bravery and determination to never give up hope. I would recommend this book to any age group but I think it would be more suited for teenagers because it is an easy read. I found that it left me wanting to know what was going to happen next. It truly shows that if you are determined enough to make something happen, it will.

Bethany Venus

Two years ago, Brian Robeson survived fifty-four days alone in the wilderness with only a hatchet. Now the government wants him to do it again so that they can learn the skills that he used. Derek Holtzer, a psychologist, accompanies Brain into the wilderness to learn and take notes on all of Brain's knowledge and skills. However, when a terrible storm rages and Derek is struck by lightning, Brain must face the terrible job of fending for himself and getting Derek to someone who can help him. I think the concept of having Brain go into the wilderness again is a compelling idea. It forces Brian to remember and deal with everything that he went through in the past. We also see his determination and tenacity in leaving everything behind and finding a way to help Derek. My only problem with the book was that everything seemed too coincidental. For example, Brian comes upon part of the forest where beavers have been leveling trees to make their habitats at the exact time Brian needs to build a raft. The ending also came too quickly and was over two easily. I wish there had been more of an "after the climax" story. I would recommend this book to those who like outdoor and survival stories.


In this book, Brian Roberson had been out of the forest for a year. He had been trapped in the middle of nowhere for almost fifty days. Now, a year later, people from the government are coming to his house asking him to do it all over again. They are from a survival organization and want to really learn how to survive. When Brian agrees, he sets off to the jungle with the director of the program. Only when they arrive something goes wrong. Now Brian will really have to survive all over again.One connection I can make to this book is text-to-text. The book that this reminds me of is "Before We Were Free" by Julia Alvarez. In that book, the main character had to pretty much survive on her own. If she made one mistake, everything would be ruined and her whole family could be killed. Brian's situation is very similar.I gave this book three stars. The reason I gave it this rating is because I thought it was pretty good for the most part. The author really went into details and made me want to read more.

Zach Costello

This is a very good book by Gary Paulsen. It is the next book in the Hatchet series. Brian is asked to go back into the Canadian wilderness to teach a man named Derek how to survive in the wild. A couple days into their adventure Derek gets hit by lightning and goes into a coma. Brian has to get him out of the wild to safety. Brian plans to build a raft and travel over 100 miles down river to a trading post. Can he do it without getting Derek killed? This is a good book for kids and adults who likes adventure and the wilderness.

Cole Stanley

If you liked Hatchet, then you will love "The River", by Gary Paulsen. I loved this book, and I feel like after reading the first two "Hatchet books", that this series is going in the right direction. It's part two of the great series, and it's also set out in the woods. So if you like survival books, books that actually make you think, and books that you don't always know what will happen next, then read on because I guarantee this book is just right for you. In this thriller, Brian returns back to the wilderness and basically has to do it all over again. It all starts when this guy Derek randomly shows up at his house. Derek is doing a survival class and wants to know first hand with Brian what it actually takes to survive. Brian finally agrees to do it and sets back out into the wilderness that nearly killed him before. After spending a couple of days, Brian teaches Derek things that he learned when trying to survive the first time. They actually begin doing well when a storm comes out of nowhere. Derek gets struck by lightning, and gets put in a coma. It's up to Brian to find the strength to once again try to overcome being alone and trying to survive. Only this time it's up to Brian to try to save the life of Derek. Can he do it? Or will Brain fail? It's up to you to find out!!


This sequel to the classic book "Hatchet" has an interesting story. With people wanting to shoot a documentary for Brian's famous story, a man named Derek comes and asks him if He and Derek, would go back into the eastern Canada wilderness, with Derek taking notes for military survival techniques. Once both Brian and Derek make it to the vast Canadian wilderness, a few days after arriving a freak lightning storm causes major conflict, and causes them to lose their communication with the rescue squad. I chose to read his book because I absolutely loved the book "Hatchet", although I didn't think the sequel wasn't all that great, it was pretty good though. I thought that Gary Paulsen made a good storyline for this second book though, I mean for a sequel book, it wasn't that bad, I am really excited to read the third and fourth book in this series. I didn't really like the character Derek, if you read the book, you'll see what I mean, but I also didn't like the ending of the book, it could have ended with a better storyline, again, if you read it, you'll see what I mean Overall, this was a really good book, I could have been better, but it was a nice book. I am really interested if they will make movies for this series, but I'm not sure if they already have made movies for this series. I feel that just about anyone can read this book, it is a PG book you could say. There is no swearing, or anything bad, it really is a book that a school teacher could read to her elementary students, if she wanted too. There in nothing potentially offensive in this book at all! It has a very fun storyline for just about anyone! I really enjoyed this book.

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