Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The River” as Want to Read:
The River
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The River

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  2,332 ratings  ·  500 reviews
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, this is a masterful tale of wilderness survival in the vein of Into the Wild and The Call of the Wild. It is the story of two college friends on a wilderness canoe trip--a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, whitewater, starvation, and brutality.

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded
...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
More Details... edit details

Win a Copy of This Book

  • The River by Peter Heller
    The River
    by
    Release date: Mar 05, 2019
    "An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller." -Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

    A BookPage 2019 Most Anticipated Book

    A LitHub 2019 Most
    ...more

    Format: Print book

    Giveaway ends in: a

    Availability: 10 copies available, 4831 people requesting

    Giveaway dates: Mar 28 - Apr 27, 2019

    Countries available: U.S.

  • Friend Reviews

    To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

    Reader Q&A

    To ask other readers questions about The River, please sign up.
    Popular Answered Questions
    Larry Fontenot
    these are young guys! All the suggestions below mention actors too old to play these parts. Jack and Wynn are between semesters at college.
    Larry Fontenot The last action chronologically in the book is his visit to Wynn's mother and sister (Wynn's father is on a trip). He recounts what happened, then…moreThe last action chronologically in the book is his visit to Wynn's mother and sister (Wynn's father is on a trip). He recounts what happened, then asks for a moment. He steps outside on their deck and revisits (good word, Janet, that's exactly what he is doing in his mind) the things that happened when he finally reached safety, one thing being his trip to Churchill after the initial discussion with law enforcement. It was in Churchill that he walked down to the river and tried to release Wynn's carved canoe into the river. The river turns it back to Jack and Jack puts it in his hands and walks back into town. I suspect that he will keep this to himself until at some point I would hope he would give this carved object to Wynn's sister Jess. I also took this attempt to release the carved canoe as a metaphysical attempt to release Jack from his sense of guilt. But that's just me!(less)

    Community Reviews

    Showing 1-30
    4.04  · 
    Rating details
     ·  2,332 ratings  ·  500 reviews


    Filter
     | 
    Sort order
    Jen
    Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Holy F***ity *f*ck. 2 days and I couldn’t put this one down.

    This story moves as fast as the white water rapids these 2 pals are portaging through. Intense.
    Jack and Wynn are trekking through the Maskwa river in Northern Canada an enjoyable journey that turns into one of survival. They encounter a forest fire, in which they are pacing themselves to the village they need to get to, Which is a 10 day trek at best and the flames are only 20 miles away. Then they encounter a man who claims his wife ha
    ...more
    Diane S ☔
    Jan 31, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Wynn and Jack meet at orientation, both sharing a love of literature, they become fast friends. Wynn comes from Vermont, loves the water, Jack, raised on a ranch in Colorado. Both boys have a keen sense of adventure and in the summer they decide to take a leisurely canoe trip down the Maskwa River in Canada. They are more than well provisioned, and the first part of their trip goes smoothly indeed.

    In this first part of the book the reader is treated to superb descriptions of scenery. The descrip
    ...more
    Karen
    Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    What a gripping, intense story!
    Wynn and Jack are best friends, they met freshman year of college and bonded over their love of the outdoors and books.
    They are on a wilderness canoe trip in Canada anticipating a grand time of fishing, paddling, stargazing, reading.... but things go awry when they become aware of a wildfire making its way across the forest.
    This wildfire is just the start of occurrences that add an urgency to this heart-pounding tale.
    Loved it!!
    Dianne
    Mar 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: best-of-2019
    “The River” is a very engrossing and beautifully written outdoor adventure/friendship tale that knocked my socks off. Heller is an absolute master at capturing the fierce beauty and terrible majesty of the natural world. His powerful descriptions of nature often took my breath away. Here’s a passage where he brings a monstrous beast of a forest fire to life:

    ”Over the trees – they could still see the wall of trees through smoke like fog – the glow was a fierce and general radiance that pulsed wit
    ...more
    Linda
    Mar 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    "The turning of a card that sent a life in one direction or another. The slip of a single hoof on stone, the sound of two voices in the midst. He believed in it as much as he believed in any other thing, like loyalty or hard work. And sometimes the places that happenstance sent you weren't as vague as a direction, sometimes they were as steel-cast and unforgiving as a set of rails."

    Life is like that. It nudges you down unexpected corridors and sets your feet upon the rocky surfaces of shifting c
    ...more
    Carol
    The Hook Most readers have a list of favorite authors. Peter Heller is one of mine. I've heard him speak a few times, the man and the writer a clash of thought for me. I don't quite know how to explain this but if I had only met the man, I'm not certain I would have read his books. He down plays his core, a man who can cite poetry, appreciate fine art and describe nature with the best, often relying on humor rather than the revealing the attributes I mention. In this recent
    BookPage Interview by
    ...more
    Cathrine ☯️
    Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Recommends it for: Lovers of nature and adventure
    Recommended to Cathrine ☯️ by: Diane S ☔
    5 ⚠ ⚠ ⚠ ⚠ ⚠
    If you go out in the woods today,
    You'd better not go alone.
    It's lovely out in the woods today,
    But safer to stay at home. . .


    But it’s not a picnic you should worry about.

    Best friends Wynn and Jack are on a Canadian canoeing adventure minimalist style, no phone because “What would be the point? They didn’t have much first aid. They traveled light in that regard—they were boys” — Oh the confidence of youth. They do have bear spray but bears are not their biggest problem.

    At 250 pages thi
    ...more
    Libby
    4.5 stars rounded up. Peter Heller’s elegant prose enthralled me, along with a couple of engaging characters in an intense backcountry adventure. Wynn, a big athletic guy from Vermont, who loves poetry and making impromptu sculptures from natural objects identifies with the ephemeral beauty he sees around him. Jack is a rough and tumble cowboy from Colorado who is still struggling with his mother’s tragic death when Jack was only eleven. They’re both nice guys; capable college buddies from Dartm ...more
    Cheri
    ”They loved how the darkness amplified the sounds – the gulp of the dipping paddles, the knock of the wood shaft against the gunwale. The long desolate cry of a loon. The loons especially. How they hollowed out the night with longing.”

    These two young men who meet during the first days of college on the Dartmouth campus, Jack and Wynn, share a love of nature, fishing, water and the outdoors, camping as well as a shared love of poetry, and books. A bond has been formed through these shared loves
    ...more
    Kathleen
    Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Outdoor adventure plus so much more! Heller is excellent at immersing the reader into wilds of nature. Here, he has two Dartmouth juniors following their dream of canoeing and fishing on the Canadian Maskwa River. They have decided to do this during the window between their summer jobs and the start of school. Unfortunately, they got a whole lot more than they bargained for. There is a forest fire—an attempted murder—and danger with a capital D.

    Heller, a former Outside contributing editor, is ly
    ...more
    Michelle
    Mar 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Some say the world will end in fire,
    Some say in ice.
    From what I’ve tasted of desire
    I hold with those who favor fire.
    But if it had to perish twice,
    I think I know enough of hate
    To say that for destruction ice
    Is also great
    And would suffice.


    Two college buddies, Wynn and Jack set out on what is supposed to be an adventure of a lifetime canoeing down a river surrounded by the beauty of nature and living off the land. Both boys are experienced campers but things quickly run afoul when they realize t
    ...more
    Jill
    Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    The River is good. Not just good but heart-pounding, stomach-dropping, page-turning good. I would expect nothing less from Peter Heller, who enthralled me with The Dog Stars and The Painters.

    This time, he tackles the Canadian wilderness – a challenging canoe trip on the Maskwa River meticulously planned by best friends Jack and Wynn. Both are adventurous, easy-going, very self-sufficient, and literate. But as the trip progresses, we also learn the differences. Jack is rugged, pragmatic, and int
    ...more
    Chris Wolak
    Jan 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: review-copy
    LOVED it. I can't recall reading an adventure novel that also has so much tension, emotional truth, AND gear talk! If you like outdoor/adventure novels or stories about friendship, definitely check out The River.

    This is a gripping wilderness adventure story about two college friends who take a canoe trip in the Canadian boundary waters. They are skilled outdoorsmen, but things don’t go as planned. They encounter an arguing couple, two nasty drunken men from Texas, and they have to out paddle a f
    ...more
    J.K. Grice
    Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    "There's always relief in committing to a decision, even when there's no choice."
    ~from THE RIVER

    Peter Heller's latest novel is just one helluva ride, not to mention outdoor adventure literature at its finest. You can place THE RIVER right up there beside Elwood Reid's Midnight Sun and James Dickey's American classic, Deliverance.

    Jack and Wynn are two college boys taking the fall off from their studies at Dartmouth. It's August in Canada, and they are on a canoe trip on the Maskwa River, south
    ...more
    Iulia
    A novel that started off well, and then the writing became progressively lazier. If you want to read a book chock-full of camping and fishing minutiae, this might be for you. Style-wise, about 90% of it reads something like this:

    They got up. They were cold. They made a fire. They took the pot to the river and filled it with water. They boiled the water. They added sugar. They drank it. They decided to do some fishing [insert page after page after page of description of fishing techniques]

    At som
    ...more
    ♥ Sandi ❣
    3.75 stars Thanks to Penguin's First to Read and Knopf for allowing me to read and review this book. Kindle edition published March 5, 2019.

    Two college friends go on a Canadian camping trip. Thinking it will be a great time, they pack well and look forward to being together and being in the wild. However it seems one thing after another happens. They end up running from a natural disaster, they face off with a murderer, they lose all their gear and food, and they end up with an injured passenge
    ...more
    Tania
    Apr 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    It was terrifying and unutterably beautiful.

    Exquisite! The writing in this novel blew me away. It was clear, concise, detailed and thoughtful. I highlighted almost the entire book. The author's descriptions of nature, the good and the bad, was breathtaking. He is able to create an immense sense of tension in just a few words.

    The impacability and violence of nature always awed him. That it could be entirely heedless and yet so beautiful. That awed him. But also its intricate intelligence. Its b
    ...more
    Kasa Cotugno
    Another winner from Peter Heller. Two school buddies, who also connect through their love of books, decide to travel by canoe in northern Canada, leaving their communication devices behind and finding enjoyment reading by campfires and enjoying scenery. As both are experienced, they feel they're well prepared, and even devise a method of making blueberry pie from berries they pick along the way. But of course, such plans are meant to go awry, and Heller handles them with his usual economic skill ...more
    Bonnie Brody
    Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Having lived in interior Alaska for nearly 40 years, I understand the beauty, brutality and unforgivingness of wilderness. Mr. Heller's poetic description of natural beauty has no rivals in contemporary fiction. He just plain gets it. What he doesn't get, however, is that there are often no second chances. Not having a Satellite phone, leaving fire arms behind, and not taking watches or compasses can be a death knell.

    When Wynn and Jack, two Dartmouth students, set out on a canoe trip on the Mask
    ...more
    Renee (itsbooktalk.com)
    3-3.5
    This was way more literary than I expected. I don't mean that in a bad way because the writing was excellent but I thought it would be more thriller like and it really wasn't. I appreciated the author's obvious knowledge of canoeing on a river and wilderness survival along with his ability to create extremely realistic scenes. I wanted to read this book because I love nature and stories about wilderness survival because I would never ever want to go camping or rafting on a river...ever. I
    ...more
    Jana
    Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    I don’t like camping. Or even glamping.
    My favorite walks are urban walks. But I love to read about adventures in the wild. And what a ride this was! I read a big chunk of it in one sitting and then saved up for a long quiet afternoon to finish with no interruptions. Setting: two college friends on a canoeing trip in Northern Canada. What could possibly go wrong?

    If you’ve heard Peter Heller speak, you’ll know that he is writing from experience. He knows white water and adventure and danger. And
    ...more
    Darinda
    Mar 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
    Two college best friends, Wynn and Jack, travel to Canada to canoe the Maskwa River and spend time in the wilderness. They envision a leisurely trip to enjoy nature, but their journey soon takes a turn. For starters, a wildfire is heading their way. Then, they hear a couple arguing, but the next day, they encounter a man paddling alone. Wynn and Jack decide to go in search of the missing woman.

    A lovely story of male friendship, adventure, and nature. Wynn and Jack met as freshmen in college and
    ...more
    Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede
    The River is an interesting book about two best friends that decided to canoe the Maskwa River in Northen Canada. This leisurely trip takes a different turn when they discover that a wildfire is looming. Then, they hear a couple arguing while paddling. The day after the man turns up, paddling alone. If this was the man they heard the day before what happened to the woman?

    This book feels a bit all over the place for me. It was not really that thrilling until the very end. I did enjoy reading (and
    ...more
    karen
    Nov 06, 2018 marked it as to-read


    YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE AND YOU GET A SECOND CHANCE!!!
    Anne ✨
    (3.5) If Deliverance is hard ice-cream, then The River is soft-serve! It's still tasty, but missing a bit of the hard-edged chill/thrill!

    There is still plenty that I liked about this book. The elements of the river setting and canoe expedition were descriptively and authentically told. Heller is a nature and outdoor journalist/writer and his expertise and understanding of such experiences was evident. The characters of the two boys, Jack and Wynn, were engaging, and their personalities played w
    ...more
    Marjorie
    Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: netgalley
    Two young men, Jack and Wynn, are the best of friends. They complicate each other well. Jack is a rugged, outdoors guy who was raised on a ranch in Colorado. Wynn is a large man with a sweet, gentle soul. They are both book lovers. They’re enjoying a canoe trip down the Maskwa River in Canada, happily picking blueberries and fishing. They’ve seen signs of a huge fire that’s on its way towards them but they have plenty of time. That is, they did have plenty of time until they make the fateful dec ...more
    Susu
    Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Shelves: 2019, favorites
    Heller is one of my favorite contemporary writers. He has the first hand knowledge of nature and wilderness adventures (though this was by far a nightmare instead). His descriptive writing is poetic and never overdone. I never find myself skimming the details, instead it’s as if all five senses are fully engaged.
    I love to canoe, hike, and white water raft, so this book was a delight-but not only for the setting. The plot had me holding my breath and the two main characters seemed very much alive
    ...more
    Emily
    Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    This book was completely riveting! A buddy story, a canoe adventure, a thriller, and a mystery all wrapped up in one. An homage to the Boundary Waters of Canada, as well.
    Peter Heller has a very lyrical writing style with quick, short chapters that set a brisk pace for this page turner.

    #TheRiver #NetGalley
    Jeanette
    Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    My 5 stars are not from enjoyment, but from the writing level for grasping/ displaying the cores of the two main characters. The way and order of each's proper individual "thinking" process entwined by their norm of feeling. And he does it so that the reader is gifted with each's life philosophy, memory, trust factors, whole piece identity to morality or wider values. Also their capacities for joy, mindlessness, risk etc.

    It's constant natural world description done in a masterful framing, but t
    ...more
    Olga Kowalska (WielkiBuk)
    Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
    Długo czekałam na nową powieść twórcy zjawiskowego "Gwiazdozbioru psa" i niepokojącego thrillera "The Painter", ale warto było uzbroić się w czytelniczą cierpliwość. Oj, było warto!

    Tym razem Heller zabiera nas w wymarzoną podróż przez kanadyjskie jeziora. Z założenia niespieszną, oszałamiającą czytelnika przyrodą, bogactwem ukrytego życia. Aż nagle pojawia się na horyzoncie strach i śmierć - zdziczały, rozczapierzony ogień, który pochłania kolejne połacie lasu. Dwóch przyjaciół jest gotowych, by
    ...more
    « previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
    topics  posts  views  last activity   
    Goodreads Librari...: Combine Editions - "The River" by Peter Heller 2 14 Mar 28, 2019 11:42PM  
    • Someone Knows
    • Water: A Natural History
    • Wanderers
    • Temper
    • Deep River
    • Poor Relations
    • The Passengers
    • Such a Perfect Wife
    • Searching for Sylvie Lee
    • Run, Hide, Fight Back
    • Dear Wife
    • Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors
    • The First Mistake
    • Third Strike (Charlie Fox, #7)
    • Disappearing Earth
    • The Best Lies
    • Exhalation: Stories
    • The Night Visitors
    1,093 followers
    There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.


    Peter Heller holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry. An award-winning adventure writer and longtime contributor to NPR, Heller is a contributing editor at Outside magazine, Men’s Journal, and National Geographic Adventure, and a regular contributor to Bloomberg Businessweek. He is also the autho
    ...more
    No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
    “What he loved about poetry: it could do in a few seconds what a novel did in days. A painting could be like that, too, and a sculpture. But sometimes you wanted something to take days and days.” 4 likes
    “And sometimes the places that happenstance sent you weren’t as vague as a direction, sometimes they were as steel-cast and unforgiving as a set of rails. And sometimes the only way to jump the rails and set a new course was to have a wreck.” 1 likes
    More quotes…