Lost in the Wild by Cary J. Griffith. Read by Roger Wayne.
In the wilderness, one false step can make the difference between a delightful respite and a brush with death.
On a beautiful summer afternoon in 1998, Dan Stephens, a 22-year-old canoeist, was leading a trip deep into Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park. He stepped into a gap among cedar trees to look for the next portage – and did not return. More than four hours later, Dan awakened from a fall with a lump on his head and stumbled deeper into the woods, confused.
Three years later, Jason Rasmussen, a third-year medical student who loved the forest’s solitude, walked alone into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness on a crisp fall day. After a two-day trek into a remote area of the woods, he stepped away from his campsite and made a series of seemingly trivial mistakes that left him separated from his supplies, wet, and lost, as cold darkness fell.
Enduring days without food or shelter, these men faced the full harsh force of wilderness, the place that they had sought out for tranquil refuge from city life. Lost in the Wild takes listeners with them as they enter realms of pain, fear, and courage, as they suffer dizzying confusion and unending frustration, and as they overcome seemingly insurmountable hurdles in a race to survive.
My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
This was my first time listening to an audiobook. I’ve listened to a few podcasts but not an actual book. I listened to it in the car on my commutes to and from work and while out walking. It took me a little while to get used to the idea and to work out how to concentrate on listening to the narrator without letting my mind wander and lose track of the story. However, once I got the hang of it I quite enjoyed the experience.
The story is very well done. The author structures the stories of the two men quite skillfully. The two stories are told separately but side by side with alternating chapters. It was a little confusing at the start but once I got used to the names and characters it was a lot easier to follow and keep the two stories separate.
He also tells their stories from lots of viewpoints. He describes the feelings and thoughts of the two missing men, their relatives and the search and rescue teams. In the case of Dan Stephens he also tells the story from the point of view of the scout group that he was guiding. It’s melded together to create a really good sense of suspense and tension. He also manages to tell the story without judgement. Jason Rasmussen makes a series of mistakes that he just recounts without commenting. Similarly he goes through the thought processes of the scout leaders to leave Dan to get help without telling the reader/listener what to think. He leaves it to us to make our own decisions about the rights and wrongs.
The final part of Jason’s story is particularly well told. The pace is quite fast with the story developing very quickly. It’s told from a number of viewpoints while still keeping us guessing to the actual outcome until the very end. The end of Jason’s story is very emotional and well told.
From my first time experience I’d say that the role of the narrator is crucial. In this case he was very good. It’s an American narrator which suits the setting of the story. His accent suits that of the characters and he tells the story in a nice steady pace. It’s fast enough to keep the story moving without the listener losing the details or flow of the story. The only difficulty I had was his attempts to change his voice and tone to match the characters, especially the female characters. It jarred with me a bit but didn’t ruin the experience. I think this is the default expectation when narrating an audiobook but I don’t think I like it.
I’ve already downloaded a second story to listen to. This is more of an audio drama and more similar to a podcast but with a positive first experience I definitely think I’ll be listening to more books like this.
Header image source: fossbytes.com