"An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller." -Kirkus (Starred Review) A BookPage 2019 Most Anticipated Book A LitHub 2019 Most Anticipated Book
From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars, the story of two college students on a wilderness canoe trip--a gripping tale of a friendship tested by fire, white water, and violence
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.
Peter Heller has struck gold again with The River … Masterly paced and artfully told, The River is a page-turner that demands the reader slow down… The River thrills as Heller invites his characters to confront their own mortality without losing sight of the deep connections between humans and their environment. —Lauren Bufferd, BookPage (Starred Review)
Using an artist’s eye to describe Jack and Wynn's wilderness world, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist Heller has transformed his own outdoor experiences into a heart-pounding adventure that’s hard to put down. —Library Journal (Starred Review)
Heller writes with deep respect and empathy for not only nature and its inhabitants but also of human frailty, friendship, loyalty, and love. This exquisite book made me feel so many things—terror, sorrow, excitement—and isn’t that what it’s all about? Heller packs a ton of adventure and emotion in this short novel, and I dare you to put it down once you’ve picked it up. Stunning, beautiful, life-affirming, and heartbreaking. What else can I say? —Kristin Centorcelli, Criminal Element
Two college friends' leisurely river trek becomes an ordeal of fire and human malice… Heller confidently manages a host of tensions... and his pacing is masterful as well, briskly but calmly capturing the scenery in slower moments, then running full-throttle and shifting to barreling prose when danger is imminent… Fresh and affecting… An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller and the wisdom of a grizzled nature guide. —Kirkus (Starred Review)
Suspenseful… With its evocative descriptions of nature's splendor and brutality, Heller's novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart—and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another. —Publishers Weekly
Two college friends set off on a wilderness canoe ride. An impending wildfire and other forces of nature aren't the only pressing elements—the two find themselves mired in a violent drama of a travelling husband and wife. —Sarah Day Owen, USA Today’s "5 Books Not to Miss"
In this modern-day survival tale, a canoe trip in northern Canada turns grim for two college friends after a wildfire breaks out near their route. Things become even more dire when the friends wade into a domestic dispute between a man and woman they encounter on the trip, and the novel takes on the urgency of a thriller. —The New York Times, "12 New Books to Watch for in March"
Heller once again chroniclesmi life-or-death adventure with empathy for the natural world and the characters who people it. He writes most mightily of the boys’ friendship and their beloved, uncompromising wilderness, depicting those layers of life that lie far beyond what is more commonly seen. —Booklist
The River is a beauty-of-nature/cruelty-of-humanity hybrid, but this time he leans into the thriller aspect of the tale, with gripping results… Former Outside magazine editor Heller puts his knowledge of canoeing and currents to fascinating use. He has created indelible characters in Wynn and Jack, pals who are almost exact opposites: the former a bearish galoot who’s convinced that people are basically good, and the latter a pessimist who’s convinced that their only hope for salvation is to paddle as fast as they can. —Ross Gray, Minneapolis Star Tribune
As much an allegory about man’s impact on the Earth as it is an adventure story… Heller’s prose is at its best when he’s describing the natural world. His sometimes short, clipped sentences unfurl into long, lyrical lines, each syllable stretching toward near-poetry as he describes the landscapes. Heller’s melodious renderings are drawn from a lifetime of not just witnessing nature, but of actively paying attention to how it is woven together. — Kasey Cordell, 5280 Magazine
“Narrator Mark Deakins and author Peter Heller are an audiobook lover’s dream team…Early in the audiobook, Deakins sets a light tone and an easy pace, matching Wynn and Jack’s comfortable friendship…Later, as a forest fire grows closer and other canoe groups display puzzling behavior, Deakins builds a foreboding atmosphere, adding tension, uncertainty, and fear to the men’s voices and thoughts. Throughout, he enhances the narrative with an underlayer of subtle drama…Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award.” —AudioFile
A fiery tour de force… [The River] recalls his debut, The Dog Stars, with its poetic, staccato sentences and masterfully crafted prose… The story itself resembles a trip down a river—some parts are peaceful and allow for quiet introspection and big, deep breaths. But then you hit the rapids and the danger and risk jump off the page, forcing a sense of urgency. In those thrilling parts, reading required self-discipline. I wanted to know what happened so badly that I’d read too fast and had to retrace my steps to savor Heller’s storytelling. And what a story he tells… I could not put this book down. It truly was terrifying and unutterably beautiful. — Alison Borden, The Denver Post
Urgent, visceral writing--I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A beautiful, heartrending exploration of male friendship. —Clare Mackintosh, bestselling author of Let Me Lie
[A] poetic and unnerving wilderness thriller… Full of rushing life and profound consequences. Every move Jack and Wynn make along the river has the chance to kill them or those they’re trying to save, and the result is a novel that sweeps you away, each page filled with wonder and awe for a natural world we can quantify with science but can rarely predict with emotion. —Tod Goldberg, USA Today
“An exhilarating tale delivered with the pace of a thriller and the wisdom of a grizzled nature guide.” —Kirkus Review (starred review)
“Masterly paced and artfully told, The River is a page-turner…Heller invites his characters to confront their own mortality without losing sight of the deep connections between humans and their environment.” —BookPage (starred review)
“Heller has transformed his own outdoor experiences into a heart-pounding adventure that’s hard to put down.” —Library Journal (starred review)
“Heller’s novel beautifully depicts the powers that can drive humans apart—and those that compel them to return repeatedly to one another.” —Publishers Weekly
Peter Heller is the bestselling author of The Painter and The Dog Stars, among others. An award-winning adventure writer and a longtime contributor to NPR, he 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 author of several nonfiction books, including Kook, The Whale Warriors, and Hell or High Water: Surviving Tibet’s Tsangpo River. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in both fiction and poetry.
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