The kids are shipped to a different planet to survive for a certain period. I can remember there being a larger kid that had a gun and a dog for protection who ends up dead. In the end, the kids weren't actually shipped off to a different planet, but instead were on Earth the whole time.

I know it is not one of the Heinlein Juveniles books. Can anyone think of anything other than those books?

  • I found at least four questions where the answer was 'Tunnel in the Sky". – DJClayworth Mar 31 '15 at 20:02
  • Zach, please could you confirm whether the answer below is correct, and "accept" it by clicking the checkmark on the left if so? – Rand al'Thor Nov 21 '17 at 11:47

This is Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky unless he got seriously copied. The incident with a kid who owns the dog and big gun and gets killed is right out of that novel.

From the Wikipedia summary

Rod Walker is a high school student who dreams of becoming a professional colonist. The final test of his Advanced Survival class is to stay alive on an unfamiliar planet for between two and ten days. Students may team up and equip themselves with whatever gear they can carry, but are otherwise completely on their own. They are told only that the challenges are neither insurmountable nor unreasonable. On test day, each student walks through the Ramsbotham portal and finds him or herself alone on a strange planet, though reasonably close to the pickup point. Rod, acting on his older sister's advice, takes hunting knives and basic survival gear rather than high-tech weaponry, on the grounds that the latter could make him over-confident. The last advice the students receive is to "watch out for stobor."

Here's the part where Rod finds the dead guy:

It looked mightily like a man on the ground and a child near him. Rod reached, fumbled in his vest pack, got out a tiny 8-power monocular, took a better look. The man was Johann Braun, the "child" was his boxer dog. There was no doubt but that they were dead, for Braun was lying like a tossed rag doll, with his head twisted around and one leg bent under. His throat and the side of his head were a dark red stain.

The only thing that doesn't match your recollection is the part about them not really being on another planet. That doesn't happen in Tunnel in the Sky, but at one point Rod is convinced that this is the case. Another kid points out the error in his theory. This discussion takes place in Chapter 5 "The Nova".

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