‘Never Say Die’ by Will Hobbs: Fabulous middle grade adventure/survival story

never say die

Rating: 4 1/2 stars

“Never Say Die” is Will Hobbs at his best. His adventure books are filled with stories of kids and nature and survival. In this story, Nick lives in Canada’s Arctic. He’s fifteen years old and an accomplished hunter. In his remote Inuit village, he lives with his mother and his grandfather, Jonah, who has taught him all about the traditional hunting techniques.

When Nick’s half-brother, a photographer for National Geographic, contacts Nick for the first time and invites him to go on a river rafting journey to see the herds of caribou, Nick is excited. But his grandfather is dying of cancer, and he isn’t sure he wants to be away for weeks. His grandfather encourages Nick to go, and the trip turns into a survival story when their raft overturns, leaving them with no protection and no food.

Hobbs integrates the story of climate change into the adventure. At the beginning of the book, Nick has an encounter with a grolar, a huge bear that is the result of a mating between a polar bear and a grizzly bear. The hybrid is ferocious and frightening. Of course, any savvy reader knows that the loathsome creature is going to turn up again in the story.

Middle grade readers will love the nonstop action. Nick’s quick wit and knowledge of survival techniques save them several times but Hobbs also includes enough humor to keep the story from becoming a horror story. He shares the beauty of the Arctic as he saw it during his trip down the Firth River on an eleven day rafting trip.

Perfect for readers from fourth grade through middle school, although even high school kids would enjoy this tale of adventure and the Arctic.

Please note: This review is based on the paperback book provided by HarperCollins for review purposes.