15 Enticing Survival Books Like The Hatchet

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The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen was published in 1986 and still remains as popular today with modern readers as ever.

This survival story has readers wondering what they would do if they were in Brian’s shoes and thinking about how they 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 the pilot has a heart attack on board, Brian has to crash land a small props plane. Stranded in the Canadian wilderness, he has to survive with only clothes and a hatchet. 

Do survival stories keep you glued to the pages? Today, we’ll introduce you to 15 books like The Hatchet, so you know what to pick up next.

Quick Answer: Top 3 Picks!

Need a book fast but don’t have much time? Then check out our top 3 favorites!

Our Favourites!

#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 we get into the top similar books to The Hatchet, let’s quickly recap the story. Don’t worry, I won’t reveal any spoilers if you haven’t finished reading yet.

The Hatchet is an award-winning Canadian novel that tells the story of thirteen-year-old 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.

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.

Books Like The Hatchet

Are you ready to take another adventure with a survival story? Here are 15 exciting books to read if you loved The Hatchet as much as we did.

1. Wildfire – Carrie Mac

Wildfire is an excellent book to pick up if you enjoyed The Hatchet. 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 us on the edge of our seats as we rooted for Brian’s survival. We 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 we 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?

3. The Trail – Meika Hashimoto

Are you looking for another wilderness survival book like The Hatchet? We 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? 

4. Surviving Alone – Clay Hayes

The Hatchet is set in the Canadian wilderness, a place that Brian is unfamiliar with. Surviving Alone tells the story of another character who is isolated in the wilds of British Columbia.

Clay Hayes is 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.

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5. Wilder Girls – Rory Power

The Hatchet is a classic YA survival story. If you’re interested in reading something similar that’s a lot more intense, you should pick up a copy of 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. 

6. I Am Still Alive – Kate Alice Marshall

One of our favorite books like The Hatchet is I Am Still Alive. This story takes all the elements we 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.

7. Peak – Roland Smith

The Hatchet took readers on an adventure that we’ll never forget. When you’re ready for your next fictional 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? 

8. Ice Dogs – Terry Lynn Johnson

Do you want to read another intense YA survival novel like The Hatchet? We suggest Ice Dogs by Terry Lynn Johnson for your next read.

Vicky Secord 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? We 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? 

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?

12. Wild Bird – Wendelin Van Draanen

There are many aspects of The Hatchet we love, including Brian’s journey with self-discovery. If you’re after another self-discovery book like The Hatchet, we 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 readers leave great reviews on is The Skeleton Tree.

12-year-old Chris 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.

14. The Bridge Home – Padma Venkatraman 

Many of the survival books like The Hatchet that we mentioned today feature characters in unexpected situations for survival.

In The Bridge Home, the main characters leave their tormented life behind to survive on their own.

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 you won’t be able to put 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.

Will Petra and Bram be able to survive this deadly journey?

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books like the hatchet

Final Words on Books Like The Hatchet

These are some really exciting titles that survival story fans will enjoy. Of course, we didn’t have time to go over every great survival novel like The Hatchet.

If we missed one of your favorite books on our list today, let us know about it in the comments below.

Disclaimer: This website uses affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase through a link at no extra cost to you.

Last Updated on March 27, 2023 by Louisa

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About Louisa

Editor/Founder - Epic Book Society

Louisa is the founder, editor, and head honcho of Epic Book Society. Once a published poet at the age of 7, she aspired to become a journalist, but that career hit a wall so here she is writing about books instead. When she's not writing about books, she's teaching English to primary school kids around the world.

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