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The River

A Novel
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (178 ratings)

Regular price: $24.50

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Publisher's Summary

"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.

©2019 Peter Heller (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Urgent, visceral writing - I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. A beautiful, heartrending exploration of male friendship." (Clare Mackintosh, best-selling author of Let Me Lie)

"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) 

"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) 

"Heller once again chronicles 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)  

"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)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

I would have enjoyed this book...

when I was a teenager. I'm sure I would have enjoyed it later, too, when I was raising my young son. But here I am, now an old man...and I can't imagine enjoying this story any more than I did today. I couldn't put down. Actually, I mean I couldn't stop listening to it. Beautifully written and beautifully narrated. I was in the canoe with them. I smelled the smoke. I felt rampage of the rapids. Most of all I felt like part of that thing called "best friendship". Thank you, Peter, for another wonderful story.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Couldn't put it down

One new twist after another. I was pleasantly surprised at the ending. Not what I expected.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

compelling, well written

Lovely descriptions. Good diction and prose.
Interesting and performed well (though the narrator does occasionally mix up character voices in the beginning).

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Rick
  • Urcuqui, Ecuador
  • 03-30-19

Disappointing

Two best friends at college who are expert outdoorsmen set off on a long canoe trip through the Canadian wilderness. The author is clearly an authority on camping, canoeing and fishing in a remote region (or has done his homework), but beyond that, the plot is simply not very interesting. The two main characters, despite a detailed backstory, come off as wooden and two-dimensional. It’s hard to feel much empathy for them. Mark Deakins has perfect diction, but for this book he adds very little emotion or drama.

Perhaps it would be better if compressed into a short story.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Good Read but it could have been shorter.

This book is well narrated if narrator is Mark Deakins. I got another by a woman and she was too fast even tho I set the speed as slow as I could. I thought the description of the scenery were too long. Burn scenes were good.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

ok

good plot but not as detailed. too simple of an ending. some aggressive twists would have been nice

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring

The story was extremely slow moving, repetitive and dull, I kept listening hoping something other than paddling and fishing would happen.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Beautiful story

Can’t really say much more than that. Loved the setting, loved the characters, loved the story, and the ending is beautiful.

Good job

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Michael
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 03-22-19

Peter Heller should write less and do a better job

Peter Heller should write less and do a better job. His book, Dog Stars, was great. Every other book after that has gotten a little worse. The river is not very good at all. I wist he would take more time and deliver a book that is worthy of him.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful