Cover image for The river / Gary Paulsen.
The river / Gary Paulsen.
1st Ember ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Ember, 2012, c1991.
Physical Description:
132 p. : map ; 21 cm.
General Note:
Originally published: New York : Delacorte Press, 1991.
Because of his success surviving alone in the wilderness for fifty-four days, fifteen-year-old Brian, profoundly changed by his time in the wild, is asked to undergo a similar experience to help scientists learn more about the psychology of survival.


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
PAU Paperback Junior Action Fiction

On Order



The government sends Brian back to the Canadian wilderness in this beloved follow-up to the award-winning classic Hatchet from three-time Newbery Honor-winning author Gary Paulsen!

Two years after Brian Robeson survived fifty-four days alone in the Canadian wilderness, the government wants him to head back so they can learn what he did to stay alive. This time Derek Holtzer, a government psychologist, will accompany him. But a freak storm leaves Derek unconscious. Brian's only hope is to transport Derek a hundred miles down the river to a trading post. He's survived with only a hatchet before--now can Brian build a raft and navigate an unknown river?

For the first time it's not only Brian's survival that's at stake. . .

An IRA-CBC Children's Choice
A Parents Magazine Best Book of the Year

"Vividly written, a book that will, as intended, please the readers who hoped that Paulsen, like Brian, would 'do it again.'" -- Kirkus Reviews

Read all the Hatchet Adventures!
Brian's Winter
The River
Brian's Return
Brian's Hunt

Author Notes

Gary Paulsen was born on May 17, 1939 in Minnesota. He was working as a satellite technician for an aerospace firm in California when he realized he wanted to be a writer. He left his job and spent the next year in Hollywood as a magazine proofreader. His first book, Special War, was published in 1966. He has written more than 175 books for young adults including Brian's Winter, Winterkill, Harris and Me, Woodsong, Winterdance, The Transall Saga, Soldier's Heart, This Side of Wild, and Guts: The True Stories Behind Hatchet and the Brian Books. Hatchet, Dogsong, and The Winter Room are Newbery Honor Books. He was the recipient of the 1997 Margaret A. Edwards Award for his lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Nearly two years after being marooned in the wilderness--the experience recounted in Hatchet --Brian agrees to go back, accompanied by Derek, a psychologist who wants to study the strategies and especially the mental toughness that brought Brian through. At first he chafes at the relative comforts, the lack of true challenge, this second time around. All that changes when Derek is struck by lightning and falls into a coma--Brian must raft Derek to the nearest outpost, 100 miles downriver. In attempting this sequel Paulsen has set himself a difficult task, which he meets superbly. The new adventure is as riveting as its predecessor and yet, because of significant differences in the nature of its dramatic tension, is not merely a clone. The experiences of Hatchet , distilled by time, inform Brian's character throughout, so that the psychological terrain of the sequel is fresh and distinct. The older Brian is more reflective and accepting, and these qualities add new dimensions to his interactions with nature. And returning to the north effects a subtle but startling change: instantly, almost unconsciously, Brian finds himself absorbing every detail of the scene around him--taking the scent of the wind, reading the shape of each cloud--and in the process turning inward, finding words superfluous in the face of the wild. There is no dearth of action and physical suspense here, rendered in terse, heart-stopping prose. Paulsen, as always, pulls no punches: a scene in which Brian fantasizes about cutting Derek loose from the raft is as powerful as they come. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Horn Book Review

In a poorly conceived sequel to 'Hatchet' (Penguin), Brian returns to the wilderness at the request of a government survival school. When a freak accident sends his companion into a coma, Brian rescues him, floating him down the river on a raft. The vigor and veracity of the short river section does not compensate for the ridiculous premise, incredible coincidences, and unsatisfying ending. From HORN BOOK 1991, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Brian opened the door and stood back. There were three men, all in dark suits, standing on the front porch. They were large but not fat, well built, with bodies in decent shape. One of them was slightly thinner than the other two. "Brian Robeson?" Brian nodded. "Yes." The thin man smiled and stepped forward and held out his hand. "I'm Derek Holtzer. These other two are Bill Mannerly and Erik Ballard. Can we come in?" Brian held the door open to let them come in. "Mother isn't home right now...." "It's you we want to see." Derek stopped just in the entryway and the other two did the same. "Of course, we'll wish to speak to your mother and father as well, but we came to see you. Didn't you get a call about us?" Brian shook his head. "I don't think so. I mean, I know I didn't, but I don't think Mother did either. She would have said something." "How about your father?" "He doesn't live here. My parents are divorced." "Oh. Sorry." Derek truly looked embarrassed. "I didn't know." "It happens." Brian shrugged, but it was still new enough, just over a year and a half, to feel painful. He mentally pushed it away and had a sudden thought of his own foolishness. Three men he did not know were in the house. They did not look threatening, but you never knew. "What can I do for you?" "Well, if you don't know anything about any of this, maybe we should wait for your mother to come home. We can come back." Brian nodded. "Whatever you want . . . but you could tell me what it's about, if you wanted to." "Maybe I'd better check on you first. Are you the Brian Robeson who survived alone in the Canadian woods for two months?" "Fifty-four days," Brian said. "Not quite two months. Yes--that's me." "Good." "Are you from the press?" For months after his return home, Brian had been followed by the press. Even after the television special--a camera crew went back with him to the lake and he showed them how he'd lived--they stayed after him. Newspapers, television, book publishers--they called him at home, followed him to school. It was hard to get away from them. One man even offered him money to put his face on a T-shirt, and a jeans company wanted to come out with a line of Brian Robeson Survival Jeans. His mother had handled them all, with the help--through the mail--of his father, and he had some money in an account for college. Actually, enough to complete college. But it had finally slowed down and he didn't miss it. At first it had been exciting, but soon the thrill had worn off. He was famous, and that wasn't too bad, but when they started following him with cameras and wanting to make movies of him and his life it got a little crazy. He met a girl in school, Deborah McKenzie. They hit it off and went on a few dates, and pretty soon the press was bugging her as well and that was too much. He started going out the back door, wearing sunglasses, meeting Deborah in out-of-the-way places, and sliding down the hallways in school. He was only too glad when people stopped noticing him. And here they were again. "I mean, are you with television or anything?" Derek shook his head. "Nope--not even close. We're with a government survival school." "Instructors?" Derek shook his head. "Not exactly. Bill and Erik are instructors, but I'm a psychologist. We work with people who may need to survive in bad situations--you know, like downed pilots, astronauts, soldiers. How to live off the land and get out safely." "What do you want with me?" Derek smiled. "You can probably guess. . . " Brian shook his head. "Well, to make it short, we want you to do it again." Excerpted from The River by Gary Paulsen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.