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

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.


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.

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.


“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.

Michael Dickerson

I would give The River 4 Stars.If you are interested in a survival book that keeps you on the edge of your seat wanting to read more, then this is the book for you. The author Gary Paulsen does a really good job of describing in detail, making it feel like you are right next to Brian Robeson and Derek, a guy from the government who wants to learn how Brian survives in the wild with only a knife. Brian and Derek are in the woods sleeping under the shelter they made when a storm comes through and wakes them up. Derek stands up and tries to move across the shelter when lightning strikes and puts him in a coma. Brian has to decide whether to go down river or wait a week for help to come. So Brian decides to go looking for wood for a raft in the woods. Once he makes the raft, he ties Derek on and makes his journey down stream. The book does a lot of repeating words in it, and that is the only thing I can criticize about the book. Besides that, the book is really good. The author gives good detail in making it feel like you are right next to Brian the whole time watching every move he makes. The book gives a bunch of good moral messages, like never be afraid to try new things, always try your best and prepare for the worst, teamwork, respect, and loyalty; and it shows that you have to make risky choices to help others even if you are not sure if the outcome will be better than if you do nothing. So go check out this book and give it a chance.

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.


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.


Summary:This book was about brain in the last book it talked about him going on a plane and falling out of the sky the he survived in a deserted place and got out safely. This book is similar because at the beginning there is a person named Derick to see how he did it so he wanted brain to go out and do it again, but this time Derick would be at his side the whole time to take notes and if anything happened all he had to do was radio in. But then something tragic happened. The person that he was with fell into a coma and brain had to get him back within 6 days cause of a comma. He looks all over for stuff that can help him and he finds a map of just a river so he makes a raft and after a long time at sea he sees the top of a roof goes there saved by 2 men and a boy then finds out its a minor comma that derrick is in and he is saved.Assessment:I first read the back of the book and I found out it should by like Hatchet and I was right. It wasn't very predictable but when I got halfway through I wasn't very pleased that they made both books so similar. But the book did do a good job of not letting the reader know if they would survive or not. Also through the middle all it talked about really was him on the river and I think that could of been fixed in many ways. Finally I overall like the creativity of Gary Paulson for think everything up and actually adding an epilogue unlike other book that give you a good ending it just that the reader just wants to know/learn more about the story.Would I recommend this to others?:Heck No, this book was beyond boring. Even though it had a great, great story plot there just wasn't enough action. Its literally brain rowing a raft until he found some place that was inhabited by people. The book even says in the epilogue that he had bruises on his hand then he went to the hospital to get it fixed. Notice it said the Hospital that just shows how long the story was based on the river. In conclusion this could a great book with a lot of changes.


The set-up was very contrived. It kind of had to be in order to have the same character go through a very similar experience to that in "Hatchet." Either that or he'd need to be in another freak accident, which would seem even more unrealistic than the scenario the author contrived to get Brian back in the woods.But once you set that aside, "The River" was nearly as engaging a survival story as "Hatchet." I really like the detail in Gary Paulsen's writing. I have to use a camera analogy because I can't think of a better way to describe this: Most of the story is "zoomed in" and he provides lots of details so that you really understand what is going on in the here-and-now. But he also "zooms out" and gives a descriptive bigger picture so that we really do feel like we're getting to know the character. I like that, in both books, the last chapter zooms way out and wraps up the story in a satisfying way so that, while you certainly wouldn't mind hearing more about Brian's life, you're not left feeling like there's more that has to be said.

Book Concierge

This is book two in the popular Hatchet series. It’s been nearly two years since Brian Robeson endured nearly two months on his own in the Canadian wilderness. The last thing he expects when he opens the door is some government types who bluntly propose, “We want you to do it again.” Of course this time, the men explain to his mother, Brian will have Derek, a government psychologist along, and they’ll be outfitted with survival gear, including a radio for emergencies. Of course, things don’t go exactly as planned and Brian must rely on his own intelligence, cool reasoning and reservoirs of strength and courage to get them safely back. Frankly, I thought it was just too contrived. Brian’s reactions ring true – fear, anxiety, disdain, worry, joy, and excitement are all present at various times. But since he’s not alone, there is far less time for him to think about his situation or what he misses, and that makes him more distant from the reader for much of the book. It seemed much more action-driven than the first book, and I just didn’t enjoy that as much.

Cole C

Another book, another year, another life. In this book, The River (Sometimes called the third in the series) is another book about being stranded. This one is not an accident, it's on purpose. About two years ago Brian Robeson was stranded in the Canadian Wilderness for fifty-four days, yet he survived but all he had was his little hatchet. Government and military want Brian Robeson to go back into the woods while military finds out the overall technique about being stranded and how to find your way out. At first, Brian disagrees because questions are just going off in his head, "Will I survive this time? Will I be able to have the same knowledge as I had before?" Government officials talk to Brian and try to talk him into doing this. This all takes about three weeks to figure out but Brian agrees to take the challenge of a world-long adventure. Brian and Government officials are sometimes working together. Brian is my favorite one of all because he puts up a fight and never let's go. He sacrifices life and limb to do this one job for someone who almost doesn't even care as much for him, just his money and military.I'd recommend this book to higher level readers; such as 6th to 8th graders, maybe even ninth graders. I say this because there is a little bit of violence in this book, such as when Brian falls of his 'canoe' and is bleeding everywhere. Also some grammar might not be suitable for younger children. Viewer discretion is advised.

Ephraim Burrell

Brian Robeson has returned from the wild and is living at home with his mother after 54 days of being in the wild. However, this is not the end of his story, a government official comes to him and asks to return back to the wilderness so they can learn more about what it takes to survive. A river, lightning, and running out of time are all included in this wonderful sequel to "Hatchet"This book was by far the least favorite of my books from Gary Paulsen, not well combined, and seemed to be just thrown together, without a lot of cohesive meaning. However it does include Brian, and is important in the series. I would suggest this book only because it is a quick read, and it helps you to move onto the next book.


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.

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

Dauntless Firebending Shadowhunting Glittery Mango Fangirling Warlock (Ealee)

Again, this story is realistic and makes sense. I usually don't read realistic stories that contain no fantasy or anything like that in it, but certain survival stories are exceptions. The River is as good as Hatchet. The entire book sets two challenges because now, he has to try to survive all over again. But the other things is, he has to keep someone else alive too.

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