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The River

The River

Book - 2019
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"A novel about two college friends on a summer wilderness canoe trip"--
Publisher: New York :, Alfred A. Knopf,, 2019
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780525521877
Branch Call Number: Fiction
Characteristics: 253 pages : map ; 22 cm


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Apr 19, 2021

I really enjoyed most of this book and had high hopes for the ending but unfortunately it let me down.

Apr 15, 2021

Good Book--May look for other books by this author

Mar 20, 2021

Very good. The author knows about surviving in the wilderness and it shows in all aspects of his book.

Sep 22, 2020

This is one of the best books! The descriptions are so evocative and the characters are developed with subtle interactions. The action keeps the story moving perfectly. I look forward to reading his other books.

Aug 22, 2020

I truly enjoyed reading this book, it pulled me in right from page 1. Jack and Wynn have a fantastic relationship and both have their own strengths, they compliment each other well. The setting was detailed enough to make me feel a part of the journey.
Like other books that pull me in like this, I was sad when I finished because it was such a good read.

Aug 12, 2020

Didn't enjoy the writing of this novel. Was very hard to get into.

Jul 10, 2020

I enjoyed this book somewhat: parts of it were good. It's an interesting outdoor adventure. The writing style was a bit basic at times though.

manciaux Jun 04, 2020

For me, the story had a slow start, but then I couldn't put it down! I loved the setting, Jack and Wynn, the storytelling. Beautiful. I won't give away anything, but man, I was thinking about this one long after I finished it.

Apr 09, 2020

Recommended by Diane Apr 2020

Apr 09, 2020

Recommended by Diane Apr 2020

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SPL_Shauna Aug 07, 2019

To my mind, there’s nothing cozier than reading a creepy book in a tent by flashlight, as a storm rolls gravelly thunder off the distant granite hills. Each time I camp, I hope for at least one such night, and keep my fingers crossed one of the books I brought fits the bill. Reader, I have found the book for this task.

Peter Heller’s slim novel, The River, is almost a lot of things, and perfectly itself. It’s almost a thriller, but it’s too literary and emotionally honest. It’s almost literary fiction, but there’s too much adventure. It’s almost nature writing, except there’s a darn fine plot and characters that sear into the imagination.

The plot opens with two men, Wynn and Jack, on a bucket list canoe trip down the Maskwa River in Ontario’s far north, headed toward Hudson Bay. Best friends since their first year of college, both are completely at home in the wilderness. Heller himself is avidly outdoorsy, and his knowledge of backcountry survival techniques combine with spare, crystal clear prose to make the dense, murky blue-green wilderness come terrifyingly alive. He captures the exact sound of water running off a paddle in a deadening fog so accurately it makes your hair stand up. This talent lends the first portion of the novel a serene calm we all wish we could capture every trip we take.

It doesn’t take long for the calm to unravel, though. Soon enough, the men meet a couple of rough men in a motorized boat who give them the creeps. Later, they scale a tree when making camp for the night, and discover a large forest fire bearing down in their direction. They furiously calculate what they’d need to do to get past the fire – they’d need to move at an almost inhuman pace. Staying longer isn’t a possibility, as the cold is already beginning to settle into shortened August nights. They resolve to move on fast, but find themselves in a dense fog in the wind-tossed dark – more unsettling since fog and wind are an unnatural pairing. As they fight the whitecaps, they hear what sounds like a domestic dispute. Initially they press on, but then decide they need to find the couple, check on them, and warn them about the fire. They’re nowhere to be found for a few miles - until they find the man without his wife, claiming that she died of a fall, but leaving both Wynn and Jack with a sick sense deep in their bellies.

From here, the story condenses and moves so fast the reader can have a hard time stopping to savour the details, but the details are worthy of pause. The further Wynn and Jack move into the wilderness and the closer they get to the fire, the more tangled they become in the lives of the others trapped on the river trying to outrun the fire. The story builds to a conclusion so sublimely wrought it’s seared into my visual memory.

The River is highly recommended to anyone looking for a more literary thriller, especially those with a passion for the outdoors. Read it in a tent on a stormy night in the backcountry, if you dare.


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