Hatchet (Brian’s Saga #1) by Gary Paulsen #BookReview #MiddleGrade #Hatchet

Hatchet by Gary Paulsen



Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson is on his way to visit his father when the single-engine plane in which he is flying crashes. Suddenly, Brian finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but a tattered Windbreaker and the hatchet his mother gave him as a present—and the dreadful secret that has been tearing him apart since his parent’s divorce. But now Brian has no time for anger, self-pity, or despair—it will take all his know-how and determination, and more courage than he knew he possessed, to survive.

My thoughts:

Hatchet is a story about a young boy (Brian) struggling to survive after his plane crashes in a forest. He was traveling by airplane from the United States to Canada to see his father when the pilot suddenly had a heart attack. Brian lands the plane, but now he’s injured–and all alone with nothing but the hatchet his mother gave him. As Brian strives to find ways to survive, he learns and adapts to the new environment, but he faces many challenges with wild animals and the elements. Left to survive on his instincts and what he’s learned in the past, Brian ponders over his family situation and deals with many emotions. He’s a strong boy and becomes quite resourceful, but can he survive the Canadian wilderness?

Gary Paulsen is one of my favorite authors, and it all started with this book, Hatchet. This book unequivocally is a favorite from childhood, and this is probably my third or fourth time reading it in my lifetime. This story never gets old.

Brian is a relatable character, and what he’s going through feels real; in fact, this book reads like nonfiction, in my opinion. It’s adventurous, engrossing, and full of suspense. Not only that, it’s thought-provoking and makes you ask questions about what you’d do in a similar situation. How prepared would you be? Do you have what it takes to survive? What’s it like to be completely alone in the wilderness? It can make your imagination run wild, and maybe that’s just one of the reasons why kids enjoy this story so much.

Readers who appreciate the outdoors or those who like survival stories will likely enjoy this book. This is a middle-grade book, but I’ve read it multiple times in adulthood and have enjoyed it all the same. Something I love about this story is Brian’s perseverance and how he learns from his mistakes. There are valuable lessons to learn.

This is a perfect story for boys, but girls can enjoy it too. The writing makes it a quick and easy read, but the book explores death, survival, divorce, anger, and even suicidal thoughts. Hatchet is a book I would personally recommend for young readers who struggle with reading or those who don’t have an interest in reading. Definitely use your own discretion on whether your reader can handle these deeper themes though.

Hatchet is book #1 in the five-book Brian’s Saga series. I’ve read them all and will read them again and again. This is a series I’d recommend to anyone.


Find this book on Amazon and Goodreads:

  • Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; Reissue edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 192 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1416936475
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1416936473
  • Reading age : 12 – 14 years
  • Grade level : 5 – 9

About the author:

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Although he was never a dedicated student, Paulsen developed a passion for reading at an early age. After a librarian gave him a book to read–along with his own library card–he was hooked. He began spending hours alone in the basement of his apartment building, reading one book after another.

Running away from home at the age of 14 and traveling with a carnival, Paulsen acquired a taste for adventure. A youthful summer of rigorous chores on a farm; jobs as an engineer, construction worker, ranch hand, truck driver, and sailor; and two rounds of the 1,180-mile Alaskan dog sled race, the Iditarod; have provided ample material from which he creates his stories.

Paulsen and his wife, Ruth Wright Paulsen, an artist who has illustrated several of his books, divide their time between a home in New Mexico and a boat in the Pacific.

Thanks for reading my review of Hatchet! Have you read this book? Do you have any other favorites by Gary Paulsen? Let’s chat below!


20 thoughts on “Hatchet (Brian’s Saga #1) by Gary Paulsen #BookReview #MiddleGrade #Hatchet

    1. It’s been around for a long time for sure, and it’s nice to see the kids get so engrossed when reading the series. The audio makes it so much more enjoyable which is something I didn’t have as a kid. Hope you enjoy it if you read it, Teri. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  1. starjustin

    I wasn’t sure about this one until I started listening to the series with the kids. The story is very interesting and I find myself waiting eagerly for the next time the kids read again.
    Nice review!
    The authors life story is also amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wonderful review Jenn. This is such an awesome book. I used to read it to my grade 6 class every year, the boys always loved it, the girls were okay with it. I thought it has such great themes.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Late March/April Wrap-Up #Books #BookReviews #Music #ReadingChallenge – ReadRantRock&Roll

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