Today’s book review is The Transall Saga by Gary Paulsen. Paulsen is the author of many young teen novels including Hatchet, Brian’s Winter and The River.
First published 1998 this book is billed as a coming of age science fiction story. The story is told from the point of view of the main protagonist, Mark. Mark is a slightly unfit teen that is fascinated with hiking & wilderness survival. His parents finally allow him to go on a brief solo camping & hiking trip in the desert, but on his first night out he ends up being transported into an unusual world where he has to learn to survive.
While Mark’s adventures trying to determine what he can eat & how to survive is interesting, outside of the oddly evolved simians, the other humanoids are one dimensional and not well developed. One can argue that this is just how Mark, in his immaturity, see them, but there isn’t enough detail to determine this for sure. His continuing quest to discover a way home does fit with the mindset of someone attempting to survive. Unfortunately the big reveal is quite disappointing and the ending- set decades later – was disappointing.
Considering how well Hatchet and The River transcend the age of the reader, it was disappointing to come back to this tale and not be able to find the thrill of adventure in it.
So while this might be a good book for an 8 to10 year old, it can only hint at a better tale for anyone older.