Survival. Man vs. Nature. Or in the case of Hatchet, boy vs. nature. Gary Paulson’s tale follows teenaged protagonist, Brian, as he struggles to survive the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. Hatchet has often split readers down the middle, with some loving Brian’s story, and others hating it. If you hated Hatchet, you should probably skip reading the rest of this piece. If you loved this novel and are looking for books like Hatchet, then read on!
8 Books like Hatchet
I Am Still Alive, by Kate Alice Marshall
Books similar to Hatchet have a way of throwing their lead character into the most extreme situations. In I Am Still Alive, it is teenager Jess’s turn to face nature when she is forced to go and live with her off-the-grid father; a man she hasn’t seen since she was little.
Told in two timelines – before and after a horrific event – we follow Jess’s struggle against nature as she is forced to live in the middle of nowhere during a cold winter.
Similarities to Hatchet are apparent, but what makes this book sing is the way Marshall makes Jess relatable. And you are left with the question; do you think you could survive in her situation?
Bad Call, by Stephen Wallenfels
Jealousy. Fear. Anger. Deceit. These emotions and more infect the pages of Bad Call. There are books like Hatchet for adults that crossover with the YA audience, and Bad Call is one of them.
This is a psychological thriller about a camping trip gone wrong. Colin, Ceo, Grahame and Ellie become embroiled in fights, fires, snowstorms and what might possibly be a bear and an axe.
It all sounds like the setup for a slasher film, but what makes Bad Call different to similar stories, is the focus on the character backgrounds.
Who is Ceo really? What did she do to Colin? Why did Grahame insist on bringing an axe? These questions keep you reading all the way to the end.
Ice Dogs, by Terry Lynn Johnson
A fourteen-year-old Alaskan dogsled racer loses her way and with temperatures dropping, she must rely on her wits and the help of a mysterious boy she meets in the woods. Books similar to Hatchet love to play with your expectations and Ice Dogs is no different.
Victoria is a junior musher and has a strong bond with her dogs. She trusts them with her life. Her story of survival against the odds is a thrilling and enjoyable roller-coaster, especially when you start learning more about the boy she rescues.
If you don’t like dogs, I can guarantee you will by the end of this story. Perfect for the winter and for young adult and adult readers alike.
My Side of the Mountain, by Jean Craighead George
I remember wanting to run away when I was in my teens. Everything seems so nasty and cruel and all I wanted was to be elsewhere.
In My Side of the Mountain young Sam Gribley walks out of his house in New York City, gets to the end of the block and just keeps going. He ends up in the Catskill mountains and sets up home in a hollowed-out tree.
Over the course of the story, we follow Sam as he learns to forage for food, whittle tools out of tree bark and more. All with the company of a weasel and a falcon.
Books like Hatchet are often criticized for being out of sync with modern audiences, but the themes of teenage disillusionment and desire for something other than the daily grind are universal. They seep through every page of this book originally published in the 1950s.
Deadfall, by Stephen Wallenfels
Wallenfels has sharpened his teeth in the survival thriller genre and Deadfall is another book like Hatchet for adults and teenagers alike.
Twin brothers Ty and Cory are on the run when they encounter a dying deer. The boys want to help but the fresh tire tracks from the vehicle that must have hit the deer lead them to a wrecked and apparently empty car.
But then they hear sounds coming from the boot of the car and very soon, the boys find themselves running from more than they bargained with.
A dark, difficult book that has emotional, physical and sexual abuse within the narrative, Deadfall is not to everyone’s taste. However, if you’re looking for a tale of survival against the odds, this is a nail-biting tale you might want to try.
The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton
Ponyboy is a greaser and proud of it. Resentful of the socs (‘socials’) who have lots of money and access to all the things greasers don’t, Ponyboy does his best to defend his tribe.
But then one night his friend Johnny kills a soc and the murder forces Ponyboy to confront a lot of things he never considered.
As his world begins to crumble, Ponyboy soon learns that pain affects everyone, no matter where they come from or who they are. Books like Hatchet aren’t afraid to examine the complex relationships between teenaged boys.
The Outsiders forces readers to confront the awkward, cruel and often understandable minds of teenaged boys.
Have you already read this novel? Check out our list of novels like The Outsiders!
Tuck Everlasting, by Natalie Babbitt
Is eternal life a blessing or a curse? Tuck Everlasting functions on asking readers this very question.
The Tuck family drink from a magic spring which grants them eternal life. They then spend their lives trying to stay out of the way and not give anyone cause to ask too many questions about them.
Until ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles onto their secret. The more she learns about the Tucks, the more Winnie begins to wonder if eternal life is all that it’s cracked up to be?
Books similar to Hatchet enjoy asking questions about life and death. Tuck Everlasting does a good job in asking younger readers to think about life and what makes it so precious.
Does living forever devalue the point of life? This novel wisely chooses not to answer for you.
Born Scared, by Kevin Brooks
Anyone who lives with a mental health condition including Generalised Anxiety Disorder or Depression will relate to Elliot, the protagonist of Born Scared.
Elliot is scared of everything. His whole life is ruled by an acute terror of the world and only his pills are able to keep him at a stable level.
On Christmas Eve, Elliot’s medication runs out and his mum braves a snowstorm to get his prescription. When she doesn’t come back, Elliot must confront his fears as he tries to find her, even though his mum should only be 400 metres away.
Monsters, real and imagined crop up during Elliot’s journey in the snow. What Born Scared does so well, is in blending the humorous insanity of Christmas with the very real terror of acute anxiety.
Some books ask the reader to imagine how they might feel if they live their whole life on the edge? Born Scared is a master in its field.
If you enjoyed Hatchet, you will find something to thrill you in at least one of the above titles. Psychological dread, creeping fear and heart-pounding chills join hands with humour, life lessons and romance. Every book we’ve mentioned has elements of some or all of these emotions.
Are you looking for more books similar to Hatchet? Have any recommendations that didn’t make the list? Let us know in the comments!