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Never Say Die

Never Say Die

4.0 139
by Will Hobbs

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When the motto of your village is "never say die," you have a lot to live up to. . . .

At home in Canada's Arctic, Nick Thrasher is an accomplished Inuit hunter at fifteen. About to bring home a caribou for his ailing grandfather, Nick loses the meat to a fearsome creature never before seen in the wild. It's half grizzly, half polar bear. Experts will soon be


When the motto of your village is "never say die," you have a lot to live up to. . . .

At home in Canada's Arctic, Nick Thrasher is an accomplished Inuit hunter at fifteen. About to bring home a caribou for his ailing grandfather, Nick loses the meat to a fearsome creature never before seen in the wild. It's half grizzly, half polar bear. Experts will soon be calling it a "grolar bear."

Returning to his village, Nick receives a letter from the half brother he's never met. A former Grand Canyon river guide, Ryan Powers is now a famous wildlife photographer. He'll soon be coming to Nick's part of the world to raft the remote Firth River in search of huge herds of migrating caribou. Ryan also wants to learn what Inuit hunters are saying about climate change in the Arctic. He invites Nick to come along and help him find the caribou.

Barely down the river, disaster strikes. Nick and Ryan are both thrown into the freezing river and find themselves under a ceiling of solid ice. With nothing but the clothes on his back and the knife on his hip, Nick is up against it in a world of wolves, caribou, and grizzlies. All the while, the monstrous grolar bear stalks the land.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Half-Inuit Alaskan Nick, 15, finds adventure with his older, white half brother Ryan on a National Geographic photographic expedition in Yukon Territory. Nick's discovery of a grizzly/polar bear hybrid at the very outset of the book sets the stage for a nonstop survival adventure. Extremely aggressive and predatory, the 900-pound bear becomes a symbol of the frightening consequences that occur in the wild due to human meddling in the environment. On the expedition, one possible disaster after another occurs, and Nick and Ryan have to cope with them all, relying on knowledge of the terrain and the best survival techniques of both cultural heritages. Narrator Nick's voice is consistent, befitting his upbringing in the small town of Aklavik. The geography of the area and climate are well-delineated, becoming an integral part of the story. The final confrontation is a bit far-fetched, but readers who have stuck with the story that far will likely not care. "Man vs. nature" is a recognizable subgenre of adventure stories, but Hobbs skillfully inserts an eco-conscious twist, asking readers and characters to recognize that in this case, "nature" is man-made. Solid adventure fare. (Adventure. 11-16)
ALA Booklist
“Purpose driven survival tale…a plot lit up with extremes of privation and deadly danger.”
Horn Book Magazine
“Turbocharged wilderness survival story.”
Children's Literature - Sharon M. Himsl
Life is about to change for fifteen-year-old Nick Thrasher, a half-Inuit boy who lives in the Canadian Arctic. Nick is invited by his older half-brother Ryan Powers to take a raft trip up the Firth River in search of Caribou. Ryan is a professional photographer and wants to write an article on the effects of climate change on the herds. It is an opportunity for Nick and Ryan to get to know each other. They were raised separately by different mothers and shared the same father, a man they never really knew. Nick hesitates to leave his dying grandfather behind, but Grampa Jonah urges him to go. Nick leaves with a heavy heart, drawing hope from his high school's motto, "Never Say Die." It is a motto he thinks a lot about over the coming days. Only one day into the trip, the raft flips over and Nick and Ryan are separated on opposite shores. Never Say Die is a survival story reminiscent of Gary Paulsen's Hatchet, but also is the story of two brothers. Nick and Ryan must learn to trust each other. Readers learn about Arctic life and see the effects of climate change as the story unfolds. One change the Inuit worry about is the breeding of grizzly with polar bears. Grolar bears, as they are called, are dangerous and have been sighted twice—once by Nick in a life-threatening attack. Now with few supplies and no rifle, Nick is worried. When the monstrous bear appears, Nick and Ryan fight for their lives. Never Say Die is for readers who love outdoor adventure and the wilderness. Memorable descriptions of thousands of caribou, ice cold rapids, a powerful thunderstorm and flood, and swarms of mosquitoes fill the pages. Hobbs's personal experience on the Firth River shows. Reviewer: Sharon M. Himsl
School Library Journal
Gr 5–7—Fifteen-year-old Inuit hunter Nick Thrasher, fresh off a terrifying encounter with a strange bear that seemed half polar/half grizzly, receives a letter from the half brother he has never met. Ryan invites Nick to join him on a photographic journey for National Geographic, rafting down the remote Firth River far above the Arctic Circle. Initially against the idea, Nick finally decides to go at the urging of his much-beloved grandfather, Jonah, who once made the same journey as a young man. The trip proves extremely dangerous, and soon Nick and Ryan find themselves struggling to survive against bears, wolves, and the frozen elements. Hobbs is obviously concerned about climate change in the Arctic. Jonah is mostly portrayed idealistically through Nick's eyes while Ryan is used primarily as exposition or to present an argument on one side or the other in regard to the ecological conditions in the far north. None of this is to say that Never Say Die doesn't tell a good story; much of it is exciting and some of the imagery is truly majestic. It will certainly resonate with kids who have a healthy respect for the awesomeness of nature. The only problem comes when Hobbs veers too far from his story to lecture on the nature of Arctic climate change and its growing effect on the environment and the people who live there.—Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.00(d)
770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Will Hobbs is the award-winning author of nineteen novels, including Far North, Crossing the Wire, and Take Me to the River.

Never Say Die began with the author's eleven-day raft trip in 2003 down the Firth River on the north slope of Canada's Yukon Territory. Ever since, Will has been closely following what scientists and Native hunters are reporting about climate change in the Arctic. When the first grolar bear turned up in the Canadian Arctic, he began to imagine one in a story set on the Firth River.

A graduate of Stanford University, Will lives with his wife, Jean, in Durango, Colorado.

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Never Say Die 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My 10yr old and 14 yr old loved it we listened to it on a road trip. Excellent writing, suspensful, and well researched. We had some good discussions and we even had to check if the National Geographic article was real. The author has a nice web page as well. If you or your kids like books by Gary Paulsen you will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great read. Plenty of action. I couldn't put it down. Plan on reading more from this author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A really good book whether you are 12 years old or 73 years old
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got this free Friday ebook this morning, and could, not put down. Finished before supper!
MRR62 More than 1 year ago
I read through this book originally believing it was a biographical account of something that actually happened... it felt that real. The cover shows a bear that appears to be part polar and part grizzly, a result of climate changes in polar regions. References to climate changes flow through the book, though I did not sense an attitude of blame nor any offering of remedy. (The relationship between the boy and bear is not companionable, though it may seem so in the picture on the cover.) The story tells of an encounter a young boy has with such a "grolar" bear, and the subsequent journey he takes with his half brother along the river to document the migration of the caribou... and the encounters with various bears along the way... In addition to the adjectives in my headline, I found this story enlightening, revealing ways people live who are quite removed from my own experience (though I am quite familiar with mosquitos, thank you!) I recommend this book for anyone who wishes to expand horizons and realize how reality grows with shared experiences. This is not a mild read, and some lives end in the telling... but I won't tell you whose! Recommended Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I got it on nooks free friday day. The book kept my interest. It is a great book I think for young teenage boys and just about anyone. Am 65 and really enjoyed it. Kept you wanting to turn to the next page. Give it a try you will like it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its extremely sad because of the animals killing other animals but thats nature. But the author described it in detail...so its also gross and that makes it more sad too. But its also very intresting and touching. You should get it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What a wonderful story. If I still taught English, I'd use this as a teaching tool. It covers history, geography, Native peoples, Climate change and more. Personally, as a lover of Ice Road Truckers (the television show on History), I loved being able to learn more about some of the people they help.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome book you have to read it now
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you want to learn about living in Alaska as an Alaskan native, and have a horrifying adventure along one of it's rivers, don't miss this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
exciting! a book that is hard to put down. Gives you a great history and ecology lesson about an area that I probably won't get to see
KnitKicky More than 1 year ago
engaging for younger readers; reminiscent of "Hatchet" but with heavy-handed treatment of issues of resource management.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow, new species of animal, learned a few things. Not preachy, just a good story about our changing world from a young man's perspective. I would recommend
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
goldieinaz More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put this book down! Fantastic story and great characters. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This a thrilling book that raises many questions about our environment and how it affects the life of the innuit. Two brothers embark on a most horrifying river trip where they encounter thousands of caribou wolves and bears. This book will definitely be enjoyed by teen readers as well as the older generation. Thank you for the free Friday book that is really worth readind. Thanks also to the Author for providing such interesting characters and settings. I certainly will buy more of the books dealing with the Alaskan and Tundra genre.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Die. *MLG Air horns*
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend! Held my attention to the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has so many good details and it is a true adventure
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome book : )
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