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Undiscovered Country

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  555 Ratings  ·  116 Reviews
Unaware that his life is about to change in ways he can't imagine, seventeen-year-old Jesse Matson ventures into the northern Minnesota woods with his father on a cold November afternoon. Perched on individual hunting stands a quarter-mile apart, they wait with their rifles for white-tailed deer. When the muffled crack of a gunshot rings out, Jesse unaccountably knows some ...more
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Published July 8th 2008 by Random House Audio (first published July 1st 2008)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Thomas
Jul 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This suspenseful novel will draw you in and keep you up late at night. The narrative is as stark and unforgiving as the Northern Minnesota geography it inhabits. Told by a wounded teenage narrator, it touches on Hamlet and has that play's brooding atmosphere, but the story pulls away from the source material in its final pages and comes into its own. Jesse's voice haunts the reader and you wonder in the end whether this is a story about justice or an Old Testament style revenge.
melanie (lit*chick)
this ended up being a real page turner. a modern retelling of Hamlet, I thought I knew what would happen...but it remained a fresh story the whole way through. and i always appreciate a mature young man as narrator. it's a little higher than a 4 for me.
Betsy
Sep 18, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although it is unfortunate that this book was published on the heels of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and both use Hamlet as a springboard to tell a modern story of murder/death and revenge, I found both books unique in the way that they handled the material.

In Undiscovered Country, set in northern Minnesota, Jesse is out in the woods with his father on the last day of hunting season. When he hears one shot ring out, he somehow knows something is wrong, then finds his father apparently dead by his
...more
Aaron
Sep 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This first novel is 2008's rather less well known retelling of the story of Hamlet (cough - Edgar Sawtelle - cough, cough). A boy goes on a hunting trip with his dad. His dad ends up shot to death. Suicide or murder? An uncle is the prime suspect.

Lin Enger has written a taut thriller that roams the bleak landscape of Minnesota in winter as well as the emotional interior landscape of a boy struggling with the truth of his father's death. But despite the great writing, the fact that the story is
...more
Marjorie Hakala
I would feel bad posting an "eh" review so early if this were Amazon, but do people really make buying decisions based on what strangers say on Goodreads?

I didn't love this. It's a retelling of Hamlet (more or less) set in northern Minnesota. I'm more than cool with Hamlet and with Minnesota (has the Guthrie already put those two ideas together at some point?). But this book basically gave up on the source material halfway through, and I got distracted by looking for it when it was gone ("wait,
...more
Trilby
The premise of the book drew my attention: a retelling of Hamlet in a northern Minnesota setting. The stark setting of a small town in the grip of winter cold is a suitable backdrop to a tale of revenge. Enger's descriptions of both characters and setting are powerful and evocative.
Several aspects of the novel bothered me, however. First, the insertions of characters' comments and analysis of the Shakespeare play were jarring. Second, the teenage narrator and his girlfriend come off as unrealis
...more
Nicole
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm glad to see I wasn't the only one who thought this was a Leif Enger book. I loved Leif's books; this one by Lin, not so much. For example, if you are going to write a modern retelling of "Hamlet", don't have your character point out to the reader how much his situation is like "Hamlet". The book was okay, but the ending felt stretched out. I just wanted it to end. (I do recommend Leif's books, though.)
Barbara
Nov 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time reading this book in the beginning because I think it's one that should be read quickly. I had to keep starting and stopping frequently and I just couldn't get into it. As soon as I had a few days to just READ...I really enjoyed it. I really enjoyed the author's view on the immature feelings of a seventeen year old boy. Wrap up in a blanket because he describes some very cold and chilling events.
Su
Jul 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another Minnesota author, the brother of Leif Enger. This story centered on a 17 year old boy who loved his father very much. One day while they were deer hunting, the boy finds his father shot dead. The coroner, doctor, minister,and family all accept the decision that it was a suicide, but the son refuses to do so. He is determined to prove himself right. Parts of the story probably suspend belief, and it certainly isn't a particularly happy story, but I enjoyed reading it.
Janet
Sep 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Admittedly I didn't read the whole thing, it was becoming way overdue and so many more obviously appealing books kept piling in for me to read. But I did read the beginning, a few chapters in between to get the gist, and then the ending. Haunting, thoughtful writing here.
Milly Halverson
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
great book that takes place in Minnesota, kept my attention.
Kathy Perschmann
Jul 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This dark but beautifully written book is a Hamlet parable, much like Smiley's Thousand Acres....
Pablo
Apr 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good. Read it on the heels of Edward Sawtelle. Same story, right Will? Oh, by the way, happy birthday, and you still Rock! (I liked your original version...)
Gail Richmond
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kyle LaPorte
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Just great writing.
Carolyn (in SC) C234D
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/14625741.


A beautifully written first novel. The author paints the Minnesota landscape very well, and there are some good characterizations. Suspenseful--I was considering several possibilities as I read on. I think it deserves a 3.5 rating, but not quite a 4.
Reba Chin
Feb 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just finished listening to this book, and I can't remember who mentioned it in the first place to make me want to pick it up. Someone did! UGH! I suppose it's not too terribly important, I just wish I could make that connection, ya know?

Amazon summaries the book by the following:
Unaware that his life is about to change in ways he can't imagine, seventeen-year-old Jesse Matson ventures into the northern Minnesota woods with his father on a cold November afternoon. Perched on individual hunting
...more
Casey
Dec 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As many have mentioned, this book came on the heels of The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, and it's interesting to wonder what might have come of this book had the other not had so much success. I haven't read Sawtelle, so I can't compare the two, nor is that really fair or productive.

A few things that were problematic for me:

- I'm not a fan of the way the narrator makes mention of Hamlet - clearly the novel is a retelling of Hamlet, we don't need to be told that. To me, this is a case of the writer no
...more
Jesse Cozean
Nov 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I would never have expected to enjoy a modern-day retelling of Hamlet this much, though Enger does break from the plot of Hamlet about halfway through the book. In fact, had I know the book's subject, I probably wouldn't have plucked it off the shelf. Once burned and twice shy, but I had been forced to read the Awakening in high school, a retelling of Anna Karenina, and after that mess of words, I remain leery of redone classics.

As an interesting side note, I found this book because I was lookin
...more
Shonna Froebel
Dec 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful first novel centering around a young man and his father's death.
Jesse goes hunting with his father, a normal occurence for the two of them. They occur two different hunting blinds, out of sight of each other. At the end of a long day, with no game, Jesse hears a single shot and immediately realizes something is wrong. He finds his father dead, seemingly at his own hand, and yet he just can't accept that his father would do this. He can't find a reason for what would make his
...more
Sarah
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes a librarian should do her research before reading a novel. I picked this one up, thinking, "Man, I loved one of his books!" Ummm, this is a novel by a first-time author. Lin's brother Leif wrote Peace Like A River, which I loved.[return][return]There are similarities between how the brother write. Both create peaceful settings in Minnesota country. Both create rugged male characters who are tough on the outside and tormented on the inside. Both make shooting someone a central point of ...more
Elizabeth Scott
Jul 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really loved this book--a modern retelling of Hamlet--and I wish it had gotten more attention when it came out. (Alas, it was overshadowed by The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, which I didn't think was half as interesting, but received much more media attention)

I suspect most people are familiar with Hamlet, so the basic story is one I probably don't need to rehash. What I admired most about Undiscovered Country was how Lin Enger took the story, updated it so that it made sense (Jesse's Ophelia, Chr
...more
Catherine
Aug 08, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, mainstream-us
The more I read of this book, the more impressed I became - Lin Enger is a subtle craftsman when it comes to utilizing the power of words, and it wasn't until half way through the book that I realized just what a tremendous job he was doing.

It's no secret that this book is a retelling of Hamlet, set in a small Minnesota town, roughly present day. But what sets this apart from a hundred books that try to retell older stories is the subtlety of Enger's writing - the way he never says that the moth
...more
Steven
Apr 13, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I typically wouldn't read a book like this but my mother gave it to me as a Christmas present so I decided to give it a chance. Set in rural Minnesota, it tells the story of Jesse Matson, a high school senior who goes hunting with his father one day only to find him with his head blown off, an apparent suicide. Or was it? Jesse doesn't think so, in large part because his father's ghost tells Jesse in no uncertain terms that Jesse's uncle is behind the murder and is having an affair with Jesse's ...more
Heidi-Marie
I thought I had picked a book by Leif Enger--whose imagery with words I was ready for. I was surprised to pop in the audiobook and hear LIN Enger pronounced as author. This book was nothing that I had expected. A modern Hamlet story in Minnesota. Interesting take on the story. Disappointed in some of the characters. Very disappointed that the narrator, Kirby Heyborne (one reason I chose the book!), made the choice to read this book. Ah, well--different standards, I suppose. There is a definite a ...more
Mad Dog
Apr 25, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Page turner. I just had to find out how it ended. This is a well organized, well written book (until the end perhaps). I liked the personal touch of the first person narration. This is an adaptation of Hamlet, and I am not a big fan of the Hamlet story ("son sees ghost of dead father who tells him that his uncle killed him and the son takes revenge"). The story just doesn't hit home. But I think that the author's great usage of the first person narration helps this story hit 'harder' than it nor ...more
Brian Wade
Mar 04, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, local-library
Took a little while to get into this one, but the last half of the book moves quickly. Undiscovered Country is a modern day rendition of Hamlet, arguably the greatest story ever told, that makes me want to go back and revisit the original. I thought there were a few loose ends in Enger's book, usually dialogue/conversations the author sometimes left unfinished or incomplete (at least in my mind). I saved this one purposefully for a Fall/Winter read. Enger's descriptions of Minnesota Winters prov ...more
Jennifer
Sep 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult-books
The writing in this modernized Hamlet redux is clean and clear, like the snowy Minnesota setting the author describes. But of the two Hamlet stories I read this year (Edgar Sawtelle being the other) I liked Edgar much more. ES was so much more than Hamlet, there were so many other interesting subplots and tangents, while Undiscovered Country was simply Hamlet in rural Minnesota, and as such, didn't do too much for me. It was obvious who everyone was and what part they played. The main character ...more
Mary Fahnlander
Lin Enger spoke at the Perham Library, and I went not having read the book, b/c I knew he was Leif Enger's brother and was curious. Left with the book. Not sure now if it's a good idea to hear the author's process of writing a book BEFORE reading the book. Found myself thinking things were a bit contrived at the beginning. Last 2/3 were better that way. He had taught Jane Smiley's "Thousand Acres" and "King Lear" together in his days as high school English teacher, and appreciated her skill usin ...more
Joanne
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Retelling of Hamlet, set in Minnesota.

Jesse is out hunting with his dad one morning, in separate stands, when he hears a shot. He finds his dad dead, apparently of suicide, but Jesse doesn't believe that. He believe his uncle is responsible, especially since it's possible uncle and mom are having an affair.

Aside from the re-telling of Hamlet, what's most interesting is Jesse's dilemma of avenging his father's death or forgiving it, while trying to determine whether he's been mentally unhinged b
...more
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