Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Middle-Grade Review: Hear the Wolves

Hear the Wolves by Victoria Scott. While the days here were still in the 90’s and humid, this dark survival story transported me to cold, dark Alaska during an epic blizzard.
One of the first books I read for the R.I.P Challenge (I was so excited when September arrived!) was the middle-grade novel

Twelve-year old Sloan lives in tiny Rusic, Alaska, with her father and her older sister, Maren. Her mother left two years ago, and Sloan survived a harrowing incident out in the wilderness by herself. Those experiences caused Sloan to be afraid of being left alone. Her father or Maren walks her to school each day, and she imagines an invisible lasso connecting them to her. Sloan’s father wants his youngest daughter to regain her confidence and independence, so he leaves her alone for two days while he and Maren travel to a nearby town for a community vote, along with most of the rest of Rusic’s residents.

Sloan isn’t very good at math or writing, but she is an excellent hunter, thanks to her dad’s teaching, and she has a talent for art, too. Her sister entered her work in a contest, and Sloan won a scholarship to attend a big art competition in Anchorage, but Sloan is afraid to travel that far. She desperately wants to overcome her fear.

Things have been changing in Rusic lately because of the wolves. It used to be that the wolves minded their own business, and the humans minded theirs, with plenty of rabbits and other small game for them to share. Since much of the habitat for rabbits was destroyed, though, food has become scarce for the wolves. As they’ve gotten hungrier and hungrier, they’ve also become bolder and more desperate, encroaching on the human side of Rusic.

When Sloan’s father left her alone for two days, he didn’t know that a huge blizzard was on its way. When Sloan wakes up that first morning and sees how heavily the snow is falling, she makes her way to the church in town, where oil reserves are stored, to get an extra barrel of oil to keep their generator running through the storm. There, she runs into a few other stragglers left behind, including an older woman who is badly injured. The group decides they need to walk to the next town to get her to medical care. The rest of the novel covers their harrowing journey, not only battling the elements but also trying to keep the starving wolves at bay.

This is a tense and suspenseful survival story, with a ragtag group of people thrown together by circumstances fighting for their lives, as the storm rages on and the wolves draw closer. The book is packed with action and adventure, but it is also about the internal struggles of Sloan and her companions, each battling his or her own problems and trying to work together. Although it’s written for middle-grade readers and stars a twelve-year old protagonist, parts of the story are violent and gory, so younger or more sensitive readers may want to consider whether this book is for them. The violence is not gratuitous, though; it is a realistic part of the danger this group faces in its journey. Those willing to go along for the ride will find a riveting and compelling story of survival, friendship, and bravery.

220 pages, Scholastic Press

NOTE: This novel includes a lot of fascinating information about the lives of wolves. In a note at the end of the book, the author describes her visit to a wolf sanctuary as research for the book, and what she learned about wolves.

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Hear the Wolves
by Victoria L. ScottHardcover

 Or you can order Hear the Wolves from Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)


  1. Oh, this one sounds good with a mixture of adventure, tension, and good human interactions

    1. Yes, exactly, Helen - a good combo!