The River

A Novel
Narrated by: Mark Deakins
Length: 7 hrs and 18 mins
4 out of 5 stars (975 ratings)

Audible membership

$14.95 a month

Free with a 30-day trial
1 audiobook of your choice.
A monthly selection of Audible Originals.
$14.95 a month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.50

Buy for $24.50

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

A Nominee for the 2020 Edgar Allan Poe Awards

National Best Seller

"A fiery tour de force…. I could not put this book down. It truly was terrifying and unutterably beautiful." (Alison Borden, The Denver Post)

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 listeners say about The River

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    493
  • 4 Stars
    278
  • 3 Stars
    142
  • 2 Stars
    40
  • 1 Stars
    22
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    558
  • 4 Stars
    209
  • 3 Stars
    82
  • 2 Stars
    20
  • 1 Stars
    10
Story
  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    435
  • 4 Stars
    247
  • 3 Stars
    128
  • 2 Stars
    43
  • 1 Stars
    27

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

no northwoods authenticity

I was disappointed with the artificial constructs used to make the story work. There was any over glorification of the 2 MC paddling past. Nothing about their trip had the ring of truthfulness. This is the northwoods but there were never any bugs. It might be worth a sale price but not a credit.

9 people found this helpful

  • 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.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Don’t be fooled by the reviews

This book was the worst audiobook and possibly the worst crime/mystery novel I’ve ever encountered. The author had no sense of plotting or character development, and spent too much time on descriptions of how the boys spent their time gathering blueberries, fishing and camping. The blueberry mentions became a joke as we listened to it in the car, then eventually shut the whole thing off from boredom about an hour from the end. Not recommended.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

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.

9 people found this helpful

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

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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.

4 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • TJ
  • 07-21-19

Not for me. I dislike damsel in distress plots.

I was expecting/hoping for a great wilderness adventure story and for a while I thought this book was delivering.. At first I liked the two main characters who seemed like fantasy men, smart yet brilliant outdoorsmen. At one point, the book describes how one can run 2 hours uphill with a female with cerebral palsy on his back. Yeah right. And thus starts my extreme dislike of the story.

The book fell apart with the introduction of what would be the only female character and whose sole purpose is to be gravely injured and in need to be cared for and rescued by the fantasy men.

The “damsel in distress” genre is my least favorite. At the point where there was a hint of physical attraction of one of them men towards the helpless woman, I was done with the book. And in the end, it had no redeeming qualities for me. I hated the second half of the book. For me a book is an epic fail when all I want is the female character to get her head blown off.

3 people found this helpful

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

Started well...

Started well but became tiresome, boring, and predictable at the end. Feels like he didn’t know how to end this. Jumped the shark.

3 people found this helpful

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

ok

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

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    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).

4 people found this helpful