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The Survival Game

Tim Wynne-Jones

Average Review Rating Average Rating 7/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Usborne Publishing Ltd

Published : 2006

Copyright : Tim Wynne-Jones 1995

ISBN-10 : PB 0-7460-6841-7
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-7460-6841-0

Publisher's Write-Up

If Burl deserted him, his father would have won some stupid game.

Burl can't take any more bruises from his bullying father, so one day he runs away with just a penknife and a fishing lure in his pocket. Despite his survival skills, Burl knows he won't last long in the frozen Canadian wilderness, so he is filled with hope when he stumbles across Ghost Lake, and a secret that could save him. But his father is after him and Burl is dragged back into his dangerous games...

Shot through with dark secrecy and brutal tension, The Survival Game is a breathtaking story of emotional struggle and physical endurance, by the acclaimed author of The Boy in the Burning House, shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Book Prize.

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Chrissi (310106) Rating (7/10)

Review by Chrissi
Rating 7/10
The book is about Burl, a canadian boy whose family circumstances are unfortunate to say the least. Burl’s family seemed to be destroyed amidst the recriminations surrounding the death of his older sister, his father is an abusive bully and his mother has taken refuge in a valium induced haze, leaving Burl to pretty much fend for himself.

The relationship between Burl and his father has soured to the degree that after following his father to a secret place in the woods and seeing him doing something that he shouldn’t be doing, Burl runs away and keeps running. Eventually he comes to a house on a lake in the middle of the woods and he meets Nog, a strange man seeking solitude who forms a relationship of sorts with Burl. Unfortunately Burl’s presence in the woods drives Nog back to his previous life, leaving Burl with hopes that he can stay alone in the house. Burl sees this as the answer to his prayers, not to have to go home or see his father again.

This is the story of a boy who wants to find somewhere to belong, where he can be happy, but he cannot do this at his home. He wants nothing more than to live on his own on the lakeshore but this is taken from him upon news of Nog’s passing. This places him in a position of having to chose whether to go home or to try to get something by lying.

It all seems to go quite smoothly until his father, threatened by Burl’s possible happiness, decides to ruin it all for him, just because he can. Burl’s plans collapse around his ears and he has to save his father’s life, which for such a bully would probably be the ultimate insult. But I suppose that is the whole point – Burl by now is a bigger and better person than his father, and at the very end you have to be happy for him.

All through the book, the tension of the relationship between Burl and his father is communicated well by the author. It is not the easiest reading story I have come across, but it has an honesty to it – Burl is an angry teenager, as you can understand from his background, and the author conveys this to the reader, writing thoughtfully and sensitively.
Chrissi (31st January 2006)

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