Book Review: Brian’s Winter by Gary Paulsen

Brian's WinterTitle: Brian’s Winter
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #2)
Published: January 1996
Publisher: Ember
Pages: 133
From: Barnes and Noble
Rating: 7/10

When Brian’s first adventure, the plane crash in Canada, ended, it was the end of his story. Brian was done. He managed to survive based on his very basic skill set until he was saved. However, I was like most people when the end of Brian’s story happened because I felt his story really wasn’t ended.

I felt his story ended too early, he wasn’t really tested.

And then, Gary Paulsen, the author of Brian’s Saga, completed a sequel novel called Brian’s Winter for those who felt Hatchet had been incomplete.

This novel, which was actually written after the third in the series, The River, continues from when Brian is saved by the radio. Instead, he continues to survive on fish and berries, eventually hunting larger game like a moose and living in capacity with a wolf pack. Then, the Canadian weather turns and it becomes cool, then colder and eventually it’s a snowy winter.

I am really happy Paulsen decided to continue with Brian’s survival story. It branched into the unknown: what will happen now that Brian has to suffer during a season he isn’t prepared to deal with? It made it relateable to kids because, even though it’s the wilderness, kids deal with the unknown all the time. People deal with the unknown all the time. We were allowed to go along and discover things with Brian that we didn’t know before.

What confused me, though, was the complete change of writing style this time around. Each novel about Brian after Hatchet lost that unique flow, the original style of writing Paulsen used to create the scene and make that novel literary. Now, they have a flow similar to other novels of the genre and demographic.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love these novels. I’ve always loved Paulsen’s writing. It just felt like a complete 360 from the breakout novel we’ve all probably read at least once in grade school.

Overall, I enjoyed this expansion on Hatchet quite a lot, and am very glad Paulsen listened to his readers and brought Brian’s adventure further than it had been. It was refreshing and a story I think I’ll always enjoy.

For other novels written by Paulsen, including The Rifle, the entirety of Brian’s Saga, Dogsong and more, visit Barnes and Noble online or in stores, or other sites such as

Leave a Reply