Hard to know without knowing the original text but I think it means an adventure novel that, within the adventure story, contains some survival lessons. For me, your alternative suggests the survival guide aspect makes up a larger part. I understand what the student means anyway.
They both make sense to me. That being said, using 'a bit of' or 'a bit like' is fairly colloquial. In a more formal register I would use something like 'It is an adventure novel with elements of a survival guide' or '... an adventure novel that reads somewhat like a survival guide.' Something like that.