Never Say Die
by Will Hobbs
Intermediate, Middle School Harper/HarperCollins 212 pp.
2/13 978-0-06-170878-7 $16.99
Library ed. 978-0-06-170879-4 $17.89
e-book ed. 978-0-06-222384-5 $9.99
Set in the Yukon Territory hard by the Beaufort Sea, Hobbs’s latest turbocharged wilderness survival story has heavy weather, savage river waters, treacherous trails, and, as chief antagonist, a “grolar bear.” Just as exciting (and real) as the Turkish war dog of Hobbs’s Go Big or Go Home (rev. 5/08), the polar bear–grizzly hybrid attacks our hero Nick in the first chapter and returns in the last for a spectacular confrontation. In between, Nick and his adult half-brother Ryan travel by bush plane, raft (until it smashes into a wall of ice), and foot through isolated Ivvavik National Park, where photojournalist Ryan is on assignment to document how caribou numbers and migration have been affected by climate change, which has also led to dangerous (and exciting) thunderstorms, floods, and the grolar bear itself, the result of newly overlapping habitats. While you might want half-Inuit Nick, who never met his now-dead white explorer father, and Ryan, product of yet another of the father’s brief relationships, to display some complexity to match their challenging environment, they are mostly there as the reader’s stand-ins, allowing him (or her!) to know what it’s like to face the bear. And the lightning. And the mosquitoes. Hobbs doesn’t resist information-packing (“Nick, have you ever heard the theory that climate change might be a factor in the decline of caribou herds in the Arctic?”), but he’s brisk about it and knows how to get out of the…LOOK OUT!
From the March/April 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.