Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Skink - No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Worried about his possibly-missing cousin Malley, a teenage boy stumbles into an important friendship on the beach: Skink, the eccentric former Florida governor familiar to fans of Hiaasen's adult novels.

It's the typical teen novel where a guy just can't wait for the police to do their job and has to take matters into his own hands. The difference is that in this one he's got a ethically oriented yet unstable adult to drive, guide, and kick ass; just when Richard needs an ally to rescue Malley from an internet predator, the slightly crazy swamp dweller with a million-dollar smile turns up for the caper.

It's a rare Hiaasen novel that doesn't take on environmental vigilantism - although Skink still finds a couple ways to educate everyone on native fauna. And while the wacko forms of death that are a Hiaasen hallmark are toned down a bit for the juvenile audience, because he wrote this one for teens he gets to leave in some of the gore.

I'm not sure why Hiaasen was determined to break into the young adult market, but the book feels a bit watered down to reach the market. I enjoyed the book (and I've long thought a Skink-centric novel was overdue), but the same story with only a few tweaks would easily have been a more satisfying adult novel. He wouldn't have even needed to change the character's ages - adults can handle a book with a teen protagonist.

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