Brian’s Hunt, by Gary Paulsen
This book was something that I read as a result of a challenge from some friends of mine I was visiting yesterday (as I write this) after Pentecost services. As it happens, the only other book in this series I was familiar with was Hatchet, and this book is clearly dependent on Hatchet. Some of the children in the family I was visiting with had read the book and found it took them hours to get through, but as a middle grade reader of less than 100 pages I knew that the book would not be a challenge for me to read and as a result of the rapid reading would likely not be as gripping and terrifying for me as it was for some of the other readers. I read the book, including its afterword and material after the afterword, in about fifteen minutes or so (perhaps even a little less), and I found the book to be interesting but not quite as gripping as Hatchet had been when I read it as a middle school student myself. Such is the case with such literature, though, as works which were immensely fascinating when young are not quite as fascinating when one has gotten to be a little bit older.
The plot of this book is simple enough. Brian begins the novel enraptured by his equipment–this book has a lot of focus on equipment and it is not surprising at all that the author himself had tried out the sort of survival techniques that he wrote about–and eventually finds an injured dog and wonders about its instincts and what as led it to wander in the woods. After deducing that the wounds the dog has likely came from a bear, Brian looks to return to the island where some local Native Indians have been camping and finds a horrific scene of dead people and animals slaughtered by a murderous bear. The author goes in search of survivors, finds a terrified one, and then realizes that just as he is hunting the bear, the bear is also hunting him. Without spoiling the ending, which is quite dramatic, the book serves as a worthwhile addition to the adventure novels for middle grade readers that the author has continued and it is apparently the fifth book in the series. The author explains at the end of the work that he wrote this book in part to disabuse readers of the notion that wild bears are cuddly and loving animals, which is a worthwhile goal.