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The River

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  42 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
Hardcover, 272 pages
Expected publication: March 5th 2019 by Knopf Publishing Group
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4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  101 ratings  ·  42 reviews

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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
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
Nov 06, 2018 marked it as to-read

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
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
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you loved Peter Heller's first novel, The Dog Stars (and I did!), you're going to be wowed by this gorgeous and poetic effort. Mr Heller returns to the woods again with this story, this time in Northern Canada along the Maskwa River with two young college students, Wynn and Jack, both nature lovers and outdoorsmen. And they are charming, and you will fall in love. Bravery, candor and thoughtfulness rule their lives. Even though you only spend a few days with them, you'll wish you knew them. T ...more
I read fiction in bed at night because I need to relax into a story, someone else's story, before I can fall asleep. People who don’t read? I do not understand how they get to sleep. So that was the plan when I got in bed with Peter Heller’s The River last night with more than half the book ahead of me. Unfortunately for today-me, this book was a ride I couldn’t get off of until it was all done. And then I still had trouble getting to sleep after I finished. This book was lovely and involving bu ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018-reads
What a spectacular book--one of my favorites of 2018 (though it doesn't come out until 2019.

I'm not sure how to talk about this one yet. I'm going to need some time. Add this to your TBR list. You don't want to miss it.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books
This is Peter Heller's best book since The Dog Stars.

I have always loved his lyrical, devastatingly understated, gentle way of writing. The way he cherishes and understands the outdoors has always made the location a character in his novels, and it's no different in The River. This is ultimately a character study wrapped inside a coming-of-age novel wrapped inside a philosophical exploration of survival. Not simply a The Hatchet-esque survival story, but a story about what the hell it takes to
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley
Beautifully written tale of a battle with nature and the evil of men. Just love this author! Most highly recommended. Complete review to be posted closer to the publication date of 3/5/2019.
Oct 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, kindle
Beautifully written, heartbreaking story. I don't know anything about canoes or fishing, but this book, I just couldn't put it down. Cannot wait for this to be on the shelf, I'll be recommending it to everyone.
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
He's now, I can honestly state, my favorite American author. Brilliant in it's beauty and sorrow.
Feb 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars)

When two young college friends and lifelong outdoorsmen, Jack and Wynn, set off on a month-long canoe expedition through remote Canadian waterways, they’re looking forward to the trip of a lifetime. But their dream rapidly turns into a nightmare, first when they smell smoke and realize that a massive forest fire is bearing down on them, and then when their good deed for some fellow canoeists puts them in the crosshairs of someone who will stop at nothing to make sure they don’t finis
Heather Brock
Dec 27, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: giveaways, books-won
This book sold me at "in the vein of Into the Wild and The Call of the Wild". That said, it fell short. It wasn't unenjoyable, but it lacked something the referenced works had; some magic or presence. It's part thriller, but it failed to grip me the way a thriller should. My favorite part of the book was the river itself. You can tell Peter Heller (whom I have been unfamiliar with to this point) has either done his research or is pulling from personal experience in terms of the wild milieu of th ...more
Nov 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2018
Although the detailed descriptions of canoeing and fishing may turn off some readers, those who keep going will be rewarded with beautiful prose and a heartwarming portrait of friendship and camaraderie. The natural world is a more a character than just a setting, as Jack and Wynn battle rapids, wildfires, and hunger, and make choices to help others that could end up being their undoing. Highly recommended for those who enjoy adventures with thoughtful characters. Thanks to the publisher for a p ...more
Travis Fortney
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Gripping, well-written man-fiction about a canoe trip gone wrong. I loved the descriptions of the fire, and I raced through the last third or half of the book in single sitting. I thought the action at the end of the book was believable, and the situation that Jack and Wynn fell into felt tragic and random and true. It felt almost novel to read a story about a good male friendship--I can't think of a recent book I've read that focused on that kind of relationship.
Dec 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult
A little too much camping and fishing information for me.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This marks a return to the more poetic and descriptive scenes of nature that was so entrancing about The Dog Stars. It tells a fairly simple story about two best friends on a canoe trip in the middle of Canada when they realize there is a forest fire coming their way. The scenery is straight out of a Discovery Channel documentary and will make you want to drop everything and get out into nature. Once the action hits, it is both relentless and emotional. You won't be able to read this fast enough ...more
Sep 14, 2018 added it
Janette Mcmahon
Jan 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Heller doesn't fail to grip his readers. The River is a wilderness thriller that will make you look behind you when you are on your next hiking trip.
Kim McGee
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
College friends Jack and Wynn are on a canoe trip in Canada when their idyllic trip takes a turn for the worse. They spot and smell an approaching wildfire and then stop to help a crazed man find his lost wife. When they find the injured woman and return to find their campsite in ruins outrunning the fire might not be their only problem. Don't let the simple beauty of the deep woods and their friendship lull you into calm, this story quickly ramps up into an intense story that races towards a he ...more
Sara Kennedy
Nov 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Peter Heller's novels are like love letters to the great outdoors. Equal parts adventure and nature writing, The River reminded me why I originally fell in love with his writing, and why I recommend his books to anyone who will listen. And boy can Heller write; this is probably my favorite novel of his after The Dog Stars.
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’m a huge fan of Peter Heller’s work and The River only solidified that feeling. The River is wild and unpredictable as the setting of this fast paced thrilling novel. Heller can conjure up the wildness of nature on the page like few others can. I can smell the woodsmoke and the lapping of the water, the primal aspects of the natural world that mirror human nature at it’s best and it’s worst. Loved it!
Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you loved Peter's previous books, read The River. If you liked anyone's previous books, read The River!

Nov 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jack and Wynn bonded when they were in college. Jack comes from a ranch in Colorado, while Wynn grew up in rural Vermont. The ties they share are ones formed at university when they discovered they both loved the outdoors, fishing, and sleeping under the stars. Although they deeply enjoy all nature offers, their personalities are quite different. Wynn is buoyant and optimistic. Jack is cautious and not as trusting. Yet these opposites play well together as each young man recognizes and appreciat ...more
Claire Talbot
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The River starts out and you can just picture the beautiful, untamed wilderness. College friends Wynne, who hails from Vermont, and Jack, a rancher's son from Colorado met on a Freshman orientation trip at Dartmouth, and discovered a mutual love of hiking, fishing, and reading. The trip in Canada was planned to last several weeks, and the boys opted to do it old school - no cell phones, and bringing provisions and basics in their canoe. The trip takes a turn for the worse when they discover a fo ...more
Nichole Midgett
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my first ever Peter Heller book. Wow wow wow!! Utterly engaging and amazing. This book centers on 2 friends that are avid outdoors-men and are taking a trip up river in Canada by canoe. There are a great many terms associated with canoeing I wasn't familiar with but that didn't hamper my enjoyment or understanding of the narrative. They are trying to outrun a forest fire that is greatly gaining ground on them. They come across a couple in the fog that are arguing but continue on down riv ...more
Danny Caine
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Peter Heller’s The River is a breakneck chess game of a wilderness thriller. College friends Jack and Wynn’s canoe trip in very-remote Canada goes from vacation to nightmare as they find themselves outrunning a massive forest fire. To top it off, an argument they overhear onshore becomes a full-blown murder mystery they must navigate like a dangerous river. The book’s small cast and volatile environment create a delightfully claustrophobic atmosphere. As Jack and Wynn fight to survive, The River ...more
A leisurely canoe trip becomes a race for survival as two friends find themselves tested by a forest fire and a conflict among other travelers on the river. The natural disaster is vividly described, as the approaching fire is heralded by a mass migration of animals across the river ("like Dunkirk"), dwindling to the bereft and doomed stragglers before the catastrophic moment of impact.

Each young man responds to the crisis as befits their personalities - Wynn as the nurturer, Jack as the protec
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a gripping wilderness thriller with a well-devised plot, and Heller's first-hand knowledge of the outdoors and paddling adds to the vividness and reality. The writing style tends to be clunky in parts, and I could do without the repetition of the Skoal™ product placement (seriously, "dip" or "snuff" could have just as easily worked -- or maybe just omit the blue-collar stereotypes that add nothing to what are pretty well-developed characters), but those issues aside, this is a good read ...more
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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
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