Reviews: Two Books with a Survival Theme


Island of the Blue Dolphins

By Scott O’Dell

Everything was peaceful in the village of Ghalas-at until the day that the ship landed on the shores of The Island of the Blue Dolphins. The Aleuts and the Russian captain came to hunt otter. When the hunters and the village men quarrel over the deal they had made concerning the otter pelts, many die, which leads to the new chief deciding that they should move from The Island of the Blue Dolphins to a new place.

When Karana, the main character, and her brother, Ramo, are left behind on the island, they have to survive until the big ship returns for them – if the big ship plans to return for them.

I really liked Karana. She knows her island well, and I really enjoyed reading of her adventure on the island.

The author did a really wonderful job with keeping true to Karana’s character. For instance, when the Aleut ship came at the beginning, Karana describes it as, “At first, it seemed like a small shell afloat on the sea. Then it grew larger and was a gull with folded wings.” This seems like what a native on the island would think, since she had not seen a ship before.


The Voyage of the Frog

By Gary Paulsen

When Owen, David Alspeth’s uncle, entrusted David to complete his dying wish, the broken-hearted David agreed. What he didn’t expect was the difficulties he would face on the open seas, while manning the sailboat, the Frog: Storms, sharks, limited food and water supply – will David survive to see his parents again?

One complaint: I didn’t care for the mild curse words the author used. I realize this is a Young Adult book, but I don’t like to hear // read a lot of stronger language. It wasn’t rampant in this book, and it was a milder word, but still I didn’t like that aspect. :-/

However, I really liked the book. There were a few part that made my stomach churn, but this was because of the author’s ability to describe things in such detail. XD

Also, I wished the sketch of the boat had been in the front of the book instead of the back. It would have helped me understand how the boat worked a little better to have seen it first rather than last. (Though maybe it is in other printings of the book. Mine is an AfterWords edition.)  Because I’m not familiar with sailing, when the book describes David’s actions to make the boat sail, I had to imagine it because I was so lost on the nautical terms. XD It would have been helpful to have a little glossary in the back or front, to explain the different parts of a boat so that I could go back and reference it while I read.



I love stories like these with a theme of survival. Also, because of the fact that David and Karana are without human contact for a great deal of time, there is a lack of dialogue, which makes these two books a really interesting read for me. I admire the authors’ ability to write without lots of dialogue; as an aspiring writer myself, I really appreciated that, because many times, we depend on dialogue to move the story forward. Or at least, I do, probably more than I should. X)