close Facebook Twitter Instagram LinkedIn
6 mins

20 Adventure-Packed Books Like “Hatchet” For Young Explorers

Embark on Wild Journeys With These Books Similar to "Hatchet"
by The Blinkist Team | Apr 18 2024

20 Adventure Books Like Hatchet For Young Readers

Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” is a classic story of survival and resilience that has captured the imagination of readers young and old. The book follows the tale of thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, who finds himself stranded in the Canadian wilderness with only a hatchet to survive.

It’s a testament to the human spirit’s ability to overcome adversity. For those who love this gripping adventure and want more books that take you deep into nature, challenge your survival instincts, and explore the profound transformation that comes from facing the wilderness alone, I have compiled a list of 20 books that embody the thrill and essence of “Hatchet.”

Top 20 Books to Read If You Loved “Hatchet” by Gary Paulsen


1. “My Side of the Mountain” by Jean Craighead George

Sam Gribley runs away from home to live in the Catskill Mountains, learning to survive with the aid of a young falcon named Frightful.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A young protagonist surviving in the wilderness.
  • Detailed survival techniques and knowledge of nature.
  • A journey of self-discovery and independence.


2. “Island of the Blue Dolphins” by Scott O’Dell

Karana is a young girl stranded for years on an isolated island, where she learns to fend for herself.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Solitary survival on an island.
  • Resourcefulness and resilience in the face of isolation.
  • Encounters with wildlife and the natural world.


3. “Julie of the Wolves” by Jean Craighead George

Miyax, lost in the Alaskan tundra, survives by becoming part of a wolf pack, learning their ways to stay alive.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Survival in a harsh, unforgiving environment.
  • A deep bond and understanding between human and wildlife.
  • A story of survival and adaptation.


4. “The Sign of the Beaver” by Elizabeth George Speare

Left alone to guard his family’s wilderness home, Matt befriends an Indigenous boy, Attean, who teaches him how to survive.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Learning survival skills from a native perspective.
  • Friendship and cultural exchange in the wilderness.
  • Overcoming challenges through ingenuity and cooperation.


5. “Call It Courage” by Armstrong Sperry

Mafatu, the son of a Polynesian chieftain, embarks on a journey of survival to conquer his fear of the sea.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A test of bravery and survival against nature.
  • A young protagonist facing and overcoming his fears.
  • Self-discovery through solitary challenges.


6. “Wilderness” by Roddy Doyle

A mother and her sons embark on a dog-sledding adventure in Finland, where they encounter the raw beauty and danger of the wilderness.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Adventure and survival in a harsh, snowy landscape.
  • The bond between humans and animals in survival.
  • Themes of family and courage.


7. “Touching Spirit Bear” by Ben Mikaelsen

Cole Matthews is banished to a remote Alaskan island as punishment, where an encounter with a mysterious white bear changes his life.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A story of redemption and healing through nature.
  • Survival in the wilderness as a form of juvenile rehabilitation.
  • Encounters with wildlife that lead to profound personal growth.


8. “The River” by Gary Paulsen

Brian Robeson returns to the wilderness in this sequel to “Hatchet,” facing new challenges that test his survival skills further.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Direct continuation of Brian’s survival story.
  • Advanced survival situations and techniques.
  • The relentless challenge of nature’s unpredictability.


9. “The Black Stallion” by Walter Farley

Shipwrecked on a deserted island, a boy and a wild Arabian stallion forge a bond that helps them survive and return to civilization.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A story of survival on a deserted island.
  • The bond between human and animal aiding in survival.
  • A thrilling adventure of return to normalcy.


10. “The Cay” by Theodore Taylor

After a shipwreck, young Phillip finds himself blind and stranded on a small island with an elderly West Indian man.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Survival on a deserted island.
  • An unlikely friendship formed out of necessity and survival.
  • Overcoming physical limitations in a harsh environment.


11. “Holes” by Louis Sachar

Stanley Yelnats’ unjust sentencing to a juvenile detention center leads to an adventure involving a treasure hunt and family curse.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Young protagonists facing and overcoming harsh conditions.
  • An adventure that intertwines survival with a mystery.
  • Personal growth and the development of friendship.


12. “Dogsong” by Gary Paulsen

A young Inuit boy embarks on a traditional sled journey across the Alaskan wilderness, seeking wisdom and his own path.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A quest for identity and belonging through survival.
  • The critical role of traditional knowledge and nature.
  • The challenge of facing the wilderness alone.


13. “White Fang” by Jack London

The tale of White Fang, a wild wolfdog’s journey to domestication, and the hardships of the Alaskan wild.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Survival themes in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness.
  • The interaction between man and animal in survival.
  • The struggle for life against the forces of nature.


14. “The Incredible Journey” by Sheila Burnford

Two dogs and a cat embark on a treacherous journey across the Canadian wilderness to reunite with their family.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A survival adventure in the wilderness.
  • The instinctual bond and loyalty among animals.
  • The resilience and resourcefulness in facing nature’s challenges.


15. “Robinson Crusoe” by Daniel Defoe

Crusoe’s tale of shipwreck, survival, and self-sufficiency on a deserted island has inspired countless stories of adventure.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • The quintessential survival narrative.
  • Ingenuity and perseverance in isolation.
  • The transformation through years of solitary self-reliance.


16. “Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083” by Andrea White

In a dystopian future, teenage contestants must survive in Antarctica, reenacting Scott’s ill-fated expedition for a reality show.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Survival in an extreme environment.
  • Young protagonists using wit and survival skills.
  • The theme of human endurance and spirit.


17. “Peak” by Roland Smith

Peak Marcello’s ascent of Mount Everest combines survival in the face of deadly elements with personal growth and discovery.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Overcoming natural elements for survival.
  • A young person’s journey to self-reliance and maturity.
  • The allure and danger of a wild, challenging environment.


18. “Kensuke’s Kingdom” by Michael Morpurgo

Washed ashore on a desert island, Michael embarks on a survival adventure, uncovering the island’s secrets and the strange inhabitant.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • The challenge of surviving on a deserted island.
  • Developing skills and resilience in the face of adversity.
  • The discovery of friendship in unexpected circumstances.


19. “The Maze Runner” by James Dashner

Thomas awakens in a mysterious maze with other boys, where survival hinges on unravelling the maze’s secrets and dangers.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • Survival in a hostile and mysterious environment.
  • Teamwork and individual bravery in the face of challenges.
  • The fight for autonomy and truth against daunting odds.


20. “Lost in the Barrens” by Farley Mowat

Two boys, one Indigenous and one from Toronto, must rely on each other and their knowledge to survive in the Arctic wilderness.

Elements in common with “Hatchet”:

  • A story of cross-cultural friendship and survival.
  • The reliance on traditional knowledge for wilderness survival.
  • Adventure and the test of survival skills in the great outdoors.

In conclusion, for those who were thrilled by the story of “Hatchet,” this list of books offers a wide range of adventures that capture the essence of survival, resilience, and the profound impact of nature on the human spirit.

Each of these tales, with their unique challenges and settings, promises to take you on a journey of discovery, pushing the limits of what it means to survive and thrive in the face of the unknown. Happy reading, and may you find your next great adventure within these pages!


Start your free 7-day trial

Facebook Twitter Tumblr Instagram LinkedIn Flickr Email Print