Mini Reviews: Brian’s Return & Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen

Ahhhh, it’s the end of Brian’s Saga! 😦 I’ll never get tired of the way Paulsen describes the food and nature scenes, and even though I’m sad that these are the last two books in the series, I’m excited to read Paulsen’s Guts in which he tells the true events that inspired this series. I also can’t wait to read Paulsen’s other works – his writing style is simple, yet powerful, and I still want more of it!

Brian's Return

Title: Brian’s Return
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #4
Publication Date: January 12, 1999
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival / Adventure

After reading Brian’s Winter, this sequel felt too short yet again. Brian’s Return is a continuation of The River – after Brian returns home, he is once again uncomfortable in his old environment. He loses interest in hanging out with his friends and watching TV, and ends up accidentally reverting back to wilderness mode in public after being in a “threatening” situation. After being forced go to counseling sessions, Brian realizes that he has to go back to the wilderness. No surprises in Brian’s Return, just a sense of rightness after Brian returns to the place where he feels he belongs. But I wanted more! I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of reading about Brian, and I’m so sad that there’s only one more book left in the series.
Brian's Hunt

Title: Brian’s Hunt
Author: Gary Paulsen
Series: Brian’s Saga #5
Publication Date: December 23, 2003
Category: (Middle Grade) Survival / Adventure

If this book was combined with Brian’s Return, I would’ve enjoyed the latter better. Brian’s Hunt continues off from where we left Brian, who was on his way to the Cree trapping family he met in Brian’s Winter. He meets an injured dog along the way, and witnesses a cruel and disturbing scene that leads Brian to The Hunt. In this last (for now) book in the Brian’s Saga series, Paulsen shows us a harshness of nature that is not present in the previous books. The one thing I didn’t like about this book was the addition of the Cree family’s daughter, who is around Brian’s age. Paulsen tempts us with a potential romance but doesn’t deliver – she’s a necessary (but minor) installment in this story, but Brian’s thoughts about her made it seem like she has a bigger role. (See, I stop understanding Brian when he starts turning into a teenager.) But nevertheless, this book is intense and captivating, and has a powerful message that is driven by vivid imagery and suspenseful scenes.



5 thoughts on “Mini Reviews: Brian’s Return & Brian’s Hunt by Gary Paulsen

  1. You’ve inspired me to give these a read – I *think* I may have read the first book in like 5th or 6th grade, but definitely not lately enough to remember any of it! Have you ever read ‘My Side of the Mountain’? It’s about a kid living in the wilderness as well, and was always one of my favorites as a kid. You may also like Jim Kjelgaard – I *devoured* his books as a kid – they were all about these hunter/trapper types who lived in the wilderness with their dogs – I was always so jealous, honestly! ‘Snow Dog’ and its sequel, ‘Wild Trek’ were probably my favorites, but ‘Haunt Fox’ and ‘Lion Hound’ were good ones, too. (Kjelgaard has a thing for two-word titles, lol)

    • DO ITTTT! I just added My Side of the Mountain to my to-read list – I just reread Jean Craighead George’s Julie of the Wolves recently, and I can’t wait to read this one!

      Ooh, so I feel like I’ve read Jim Kjelgaard’s Big Red a loooong time ago (but then again, maybe I’m thinking of Clifford ahaha) – I just added the ones you mentioned to my list, and I’m super excited for these. Thanks for the suggestions, Sarah!! 😀

  2. So, funny thing, my cousin gave me ‘Julie’ as a present when I was like 12 and for some reason I read it and didn’t like it. I think maybe I wasn’t getting along with my cousin very well so I didn’t want to like it?? But I should really give it another try – it was YEARS before I realized that the author of ‘Julie’ was also the author my beloved ‘My Side of the Mountain’!

    Lately, I’ve been discovering that authors of some of my favorite childhood books wrote other books?? I know, I know, it probably shouldn’t have taken me so long. But for instance I’ve always been a passionate fan of ‘The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,’ but I read my second book by that author less than a month ago! (‘The View from Saturday,’ if you’re interested – hopefully a review coming soon – I *loved* that book!)

    • For some reason, I like Hatchet a lot more than Julie. Maybe because there was more of a learning curve for Brian in Hatchet and that allowed for more character development.

      I remember seeing classmates reading The View from Saturday, but at that time I was very much against anything slice-of-life-ish, haha. I’m looking forward to reading your review! 🙂

      • haha, well I fear that it will be one of those books for which my review will be a bit incoherent – I still can’t figure out *why* I loved this book. (And I do mean *loved* – I purchased it as soon as I finished it!) It’s not really the type of book that I would normally enjoy (I’m not really a huge ‘slice of life’ fan) – but something about this one really just captured me.

        Anyway, maybe someday I’ll have time to catch up on all my book blog reading AND actually post something on my own! 😀

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