3.5 / 5
"I walked down to the beach and waited for Malley, but she didn't show up."
The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp-justice in Skink—No Surrender.
Classic Malley—to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard—he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink—he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.
Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen’s most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive “captain” as he finds hilariously satisfying ways to stop internet predators, turtle-egg poachers, and lowlife litterbugs in their tracks. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.
This was my first Hiaasen book, which also of course means it was my first encounter with Skink. I am now one of the many superfans of the crazy former governor. I don't know how much he shows up in Hiaasen's other novels, but I know that he is a beloved favorite - and I can understand why. (I almost wish I had already read other Skink adventures; then it would feel like I was reencountering an old friend!)
This is the author's first foray into young adult novels, and I really think he successfully nailed it. Granted, I am far from the target YA audience, and therefore while *I* think his references were all up-to-date and his slang spot-on, I could be very, very wrong. However, none of the writing (the story was told from the first-person point of view by a fourteen-year-old boy) felt forced or uncomfortable, the way teenage talk can sometimes seem when an adult is trying to sound "with it." So, it at least worked for ME.
The story itself is great because it's also not at all the condescending sort of YA, despite the author moving from adult to teen writing. The narrator is a young boy who takes off on an adventure with his new friend Skink, in pursuit of his cousin and best friend, who has run off with a boy she met on the internet. While Malley acts like everything is fine, Richard can tell that it isn't. When the old governor hears of Malley's predicament, since he is a man of action and appears to move from one serving-of-justice adventure to the next, he and Richard set off immediately in pursuit of the girl and her kidnapper.
The book does not stop moving - the action is constant, and it's often fun and it's never really outlandish, even though so many things happen to the pair in the short span of a few days. While this isn't generally the type of book I seek out - it's relatively "light" fare (great writing, don't get me wrong, just fast-paced and what I think of more as a "beach read"), and I don't read a lot of adventure or action novels - this one was really well done, and I couldn't put it down. I will certainly seek out more Hiaasen.
I also felt like I learned a lot about the Florida panhandle, where all of the action takes place. Hiaasen was able to bring in a lot of the area's history and biology without making it sound like he was teaching the reader - he simply managed to work these things in as part of Richard's narrative. I loved that.
All in all, a very enjoyable story. If you want a great escape from everyday life for a while, this is a wonderful book to help you with that.
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