Last Updated on August 18, 2023 by Louisa
The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen is a survival story that was published in 1986 and yet I only got around to reading it this year.
This is the ultimate survival story that had me wondering what I would do if I were in Brian’s shoes and thinking about how I would survive alone in the wilderness, should this ever happen.
Brian was only a teenager when he was forced to find a way to survive against all odds after his plane crashed in the Canadian wilderness, and he only had the clothes on his back and a hatchet to survive with.
It’s not only a riveting story but has themes of spiritual healing, self-reliance, and being grateful for life.
If you’re looking for more survival stories to keep you glued to the pages, then you’ve come to the right place. I’ve listed some of my favorite similar books like The Hatchet, so you know what to pick up next.
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Quick Answer: 3 Best Books Like The Hatchet!
Need a book fast but don’t have much time? Then check out my top 3 favorites!
#1 Best Non-Fiction Survival Book
Surviving Alone by Clay Hayes
- Written by the winner of season 8 of the reality TV series, Alone,
- A true story about a man who lives in a remote wilderness in Canada, fending off bears and mountain lions
- A fast-paced, action-packed biography
#2 Best Survival Fiction
I Am Still Alive by Kate Alice Marshall
- About a young girl forced to live with her dad in the wilderness, but after he passes, she’s alone
- A half survival novel, half murder mystery
- Heart-pounding and fast-paced
#3 Best Young Adult Romance
Wildfire by Carrie Mac
- About two teenagers who attend a camp retreat, only to wander off and be forced to survive alone in the wilderness
- Award-winning author of the ALA Rainbow List Selection and Bank Street Best Book of the Year Awards
- A best friend to the lover’s survival story
Summary of The Hatchet
Before I get into the top similar books to The Hatchet, let’s quickly recap the story.
The Hatchet is an award-winning Canadian fiction novel that tells the story of a thirteen-year-old boy, Brian Robeson, who, after learning of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce.
When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. Alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present, he is forced to survive alone.
Although first consumed by despair, Brian slowly learns survival skills—how to make a shelter for himself, hunt, fish, forage for food, make a fire, and even finds the courage to start over when a tornado ravages his campsite.
Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, becoming a new man, changed by his need for survival.
Best Books Like The Hatchet
Now you’ve been reminded of the story, it’s time to take another adventure with a survival story! Here are some of the most exciting books to read if you loved The Hatchet as much as I did.
1. Wildfire – Carrie Mac
Wildfire is an excellent book to pick up if you enjoyed The Hatchet as it also has themes of survival and self-reliance.
This story follows two friends that get taken off the path when they’re part of a group on a journey to fight wildfires.
Pete and Annie are childhood best friends who have deeper feelings. After a climbing accident, the two friends get taken off the trail and away from the group. As the fire gets closer, the two must find a way to survive together.
The Hatchet had me on the edge of my seat as I rooted for Brian’s survival. I felt the exact same thing when reading Annie and Pete’s story.
2. Bad Call – Stephen Wallenfels
You never know what’s out there in the wilderness. That’s part of what made The Hatchet such an interesting read, and it’s also why I think you’ll enjoy Bad Call.
A group of teenagers lost a bet, and now they must take a camping trip at Yosemite National Park. This isn’t a leisurely camping trip.
The kids have some serious baggage to unpack. To make matters worse, there’s a snowstorm on the way and a bear in the area.
Will this group be able to put their differences aside and work together to get out of the park alive?
Like The Hatchett, this book has the perfect pairing of survival and suspense. It is told through dual points of view which makes it more dynamic, as each character has differing views on the events.
3. The Trail – Meika Hashimoto
Are you looking for another wilderness survival book like The Hatchet to make you wonder about your own morality? Then I highly recommend The Trail by Meika Hashimoto.
Toby and his best friend Lucas have a list called Brave, Daring, Totally Awesome Things. They’ve checked off everything on the list except hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Lucas isn’t around anymore, but Toby’s determined to hike this trail solo, even if it’s dangerous.
Things go wrong for Toby on his hike, leading him on a journey of survival. He also comes across 2 boys that need his help. Will the trio fight through all odds and make it home?
This is not only a brave survival story but it also has a riveting description of the Appalachian trail, which hikers will enjoy reading about.
4. Surviving Alone – Clay Hayes
The Hatchet is set in the Canadian wilderness, a place that Brian is unfamiliar with. Surviving Alone is a true story about a man who is isolated in the wilds of British Columbia.
Clay Hayes is better known as the winner of the reality series Alone. In this novel, he shares his experiences of being cut off from civilization and making it alone in the wilderness.
From building his own shelter to finding safety from wild predators, Clay recounts what it took to survive and win the grand prize.
If you enjoy The Hatchet and similar stories, Surviving Alone will keep you glued to the pages.
5. Wilder Girls – Rory Power
The Hatchet is a classic YA survival story, but if you’re interested in reading something similar that’s a lot more intense, you should pick up a copy of the horror novel, Wilder Girls by Rory Power.
The Raxter School for Girls has been under strict quarantine since the Tox virus infected the students.
The members of this school are on an island, cut off from the rest of civilization. When Hetty’s best friend Byatt disappears, she knows she can’t stay put behind the school’s fence.
Is Hetty ready for the dangers that face her in the woods? This could be her only chance at survival.
This is a gritty, sometimes gruesome, and incredibly intense book. Its vivid descriptions bring the novel to life in ways that have your heart pounding.
6. I Am Still Alive – Kate Alice Marshall
One of my favorite books like The Hatchet that has the perfect amount of suspense is I Am Still Alive. This story takes all the elements I love about The Hatchet and adds in a murder mystery twist.
After a car crash kills her mother, Jess must go live with her Canadian survivalist father in the woods.
A long-buried secret leads to someone killing her father and the cabin burning down. Jess is left to fend for herself with only a few supplies and her father’s dog.
Jess is determined to survive and discover what happened to her father.
This book is a real page-turner and hard to put down. It’s ideal for fans of thrillers and young adult survival stories.
7. Peak – Roland Smith
The Hatchet had me questioning my core values in life and also instilled a bit of hunger for adventure. If you’re ready for a fictional adventure that will have you dreaming of a big adventure, you should pick up a copy of Peak by Rolan Smith.
Peak is a 14-year-old boy who loves the thrill of a climb, even if that thrill lands him in juvie.
Now he’s faced with a choice, spend his youth behind bars or go to Thailand to stay with his father.
Little does he know his father already has plans for him. That is to become the youngest person ever to climb Mount Everest.
A challenge is something that Peak has never backed down from. But will this challenge be worth his life?
This is a great story that is well-written and has a plausible plot. I enjoyed the character relationship dynamics as well as the thrill of the adventure.
8. Ice Dogs – Terry Lynn Johnson
If you want to read another intense YA survival novel like The Hatchet, then I suggest Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson for your next read.
The story follows Vicky Secord who is a teenage Alaskan dog sled racer. She’s determined to win the White Wolf Classic.
However, when she’s out training, she gets lost in the wilderness. Vicky must find a way to survive as the temperature drops, and she has no food.
Throughout all odds of this survival story, the readers also get to enjoy the bond between Vicky and her dog.
When a new character enters the mix, you’ll be rooting for them all to make it in the end.
9. Beauty Queens – Libba Bray
Do you want to read another YA survival story that’s a slight change in pace from The Hatchet? Then I suggest Beauty Queens by Libba Bray.
A plane with 13 beauty pageant contestants on board crashes down on a deserted island.
These girls can barely get along with each other, but they must learn to put their differences aside to survive on this mysterious island.
One of the best aspects of this book is that Libba Bray also adds an element of humor. It’s one book that readers won’t be able to put down.
10. The River – Gary Paulsen
Were you hooked on Brian’s journey in The Hatchet? You’ll be happy to know that that was just the first story in his collection. Brian’s journey continues with The River.
Two years after Brian’s experience in the woods, he’s asked to do it again. This time, he’s going to train a government psychologist.
What seemed like an assignment at first turned into another intense journey for our favorite character.
While Brians is training Dereck Holtzer, a storm approaches. Dereck gets hit by lightning and goes into a coma. Brian must use his survival instinct and knowledge to bring Dereck to safety.
Will our hero be able to do it all again?
If you enjoyed The Hatchet, then it’s a no brainer that you should pick up the sequel.
11. The Disaster Days – Rebecca Behrens
Many situations can result in a character’s survival story. For Brian in The Hatchet, it was a plane crash. For Hannah in The Disaster Days, it’s a natural disaster.
Hannah is a typical teenage girl that enjoys life on a quiet island. One afternoon when she’s babysitting neighborhood children, an earthquake strikes.
This earthquake does more damage than anyone could imagine. Now Hannah must fight for survival and protect the kids.
Will Hannah’s babysitting expertise help keep everyone together as everything is falling apart?
This is a fast-paced, entirely gripping novel that will have you hooked on every page.
12. Wild Bird – Wendelin Van Draanen
There are many aspects of The Hatchet I love, including Brian’s journey with self-discovery. If you’re after another self-discovery book like The Hatchet, I suggest Wild Bird.
Wren is taken to a wilderness therapy program for troubled teens. She’s angry at life and everyone in it.
However, as she learns the basics of wilderness survival, she also starts to get back in tune with who she was before she got into trouble.
Not every survival story puts the character’s life at risk. Sometimes the greatest survival story is overcoming a personal battle.
13. The Skeleton Tree – Iain Lawrence
Another survival story that follows a teenage main character is The Skeleton Tree.
The story follows 12-year-old Chris who heads on a sailing trip with his uncle.
He meets Frank onboard, another kid with a bad attitude, and immediately dislikes him.
After an unexpected accident, Chris and Frank are the only survivors. They have no food or supplies, and the days are getting colder.
The only chance these kids have at survival is to get along and work together.
Will they be able to put their differences aside and see each other in a different light?
Fans of The Hatchet will fall in love with this story for not only the survival aspects but for the coming of age elements between the two teenage characters.
14. The Bridge Home – Padma Venkatraman
Many of the survival books like The Hatchet that I’ve mentioned so far feature characters in unexpected situations for survival.
In The Bridge Home, the main characters leave their tormented life behind to survive on their own willingly.
Viji and her developmentally disabled sister Rukku run away from home to escape their abusive father. The two girls find shelter under a bridge in the city of Chennai. While they’re outcasts in the city, they are determined to make it on their own.
The girls meet a pair of brothers who are in a similar situation. The group forms a tight bond as they survive together.
However, when two of the kids fall ill, the others have the question if they’re making the right choices.
15. Cast Off – Eve Yahalem
If The Hatchet is one of your favorite stories, you should check out Cast Off. This is a different type of survival story that takes you back a few hundred years, but has a plot line that ensures you won’t be able to put it down.
This story takes place in the year 1663. Petra will do anything to escape her abusive father.
She sneaks onto a Dutch merchant ship that’s heading to the East Indies. On board, she tries her best to stay hidden but meets the carpenter’s son Bram.
Knowing the dangers Petra could be in if she were discovered on board, Bram decides to help her. He disguises her as a boy so she can blend in.
However, things don’t stay calm for long as pirates begin to attack and deadly illnesses are spreading onboard.
Pirates and survivalists, what could be a better combination?
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Final Word on The Best Books Like The Hatchet
This concludes my list of the best books like The Hatchet, and as you can see, there are some really exciting titles on this list that survival story fans will enjoy.
Whether you’re looking for something gritty and raw, or packed with suspense and mystery, there is something for every reader on this list.
Of course, there are plenty of other great survival novels like The Hatchet out there, so if you think I’ve missed any, let me know in the comments.