Hatchet by Gary Paulsen was first published in 1987. This gripping coming-of-age and survival novel follows the story of Brian Robeson, a thirteen-year-old boy who finds himself alone in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. The plot revolves around Brian's struggle for survival as he contends with the harsh realities of nature, relying on his wits and the titular hatchet he salvages from the wreckage.
Set against the backdrop of the dense Canadian forest, the novel vividly describes Brian's efforts to find food, build shelter, and overcome various challenges in his isolated environment. The narrative is rich with details about the flora and fauna of the wilderness, providing readers with a sensory experience of Brian's journey. Hatchet reflects the survivalist literature genre, drawing inspiration from real-life stories of people who have faced similar situations. It captures the essence of human resilience and adaptability in the face of adversity.
Despite being set in the late 20th century, the themes of self-reliance and survival explored in Hatchet remain relevant today. The book has become a staple in middle school literature curricula, resonating with young readers and offering valuable lessons about resourcefulness, determination, and the indomitable human spirit. The success of Hatchet led to Paulsen to publish four additional novels in Brain’s Saga series: The River (1991), Brian’s Winter (1996), Brain’s Return (1999), and Brian’s Hunt (2003).