Skink--No Surrenderby Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp justice in the New York Times bestseller Skink—No Surrender.
A National Book Award Longlist Selection
When your cousin goes missing under suspicious circumstances, who do you call? There’s only one man for the job: a half-crazed, half-feral,/i>/b>/i>/i>
Carl Hiaasen serves up his unique brand of swamp justice in the New York Times bestseller Skink—No Surrender.
A National Book Award Longlist Selection
When your cousin goes missing under suspicious circumstances, who do you call? There’s only one man for the job: a half-crazed, half-feral, one-eyed ex-governor named Skink. Skink joins 14-year-old Richard on a breakneck chase across Florida, undaunted by lightning storms, poisonous snakes, flying bullets, and giant gators. There are a million places cousin Malley could be, a million unpleasant fates that might have befallen her, but one thing is certain: in the Florida swamp, justice is best served wild.
SUNSHINE STATE AWARD FINALIST!
Rather than be shipped off to boarding school, Richard Sloan’s cousin Malley runs away with a questionable acquaintance she met online. Richard shares his worry over her fate with a strange, one-eyed man he stumbles across on a Florida beach. Hiaasen’s adult readers will immediately recognize Skink, the former governor turned eco-warrior, who first appeared 25 years ago in Double Whammy. Skink commandeers Richard’s mission to find Malley and tutors his young new friend on carnivorous gators, wild pigs, driving (Richard is still a year away from a learner’s permit but no matter), and how to prepare roadkill for human consumption. What happens to Malley during her abduction is never explicitly stated, but the implication of what a criminal is doing with a handcuffed 14-year-old girl rides uneasily alongside the kookier elements of the story. Still, there is much to enjoy. Hiaasen’s concern for the environment and its most vulnerable denizens is again on full display, and Richard has a memorable epiphany when he loses his phone in Choctawhatchee Bay: “Pursuing a desperate criminal through the wilderness drastically rearranges your priorities.” Ages 12–up. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Sept.)
If you were pursuing your cousin’s kidnapper across Florida, you would want a man like Skink at your side. Maybe.Skink, as readers of Hiaasen’s novels for adults know, was once governor of Florida and is now a genially lawless reprobate who takes “eco-terrorism” to a whole new level. Richard first meets him completely buried in the sand on a beach lying in wait for a sea turtle–egg thief. That one extraordinary encounter turns into an unlikely partnership when Richard’s spirited cousin, Malley, runs off with a guy she met on the Internet in order to avoid boarding school, a joy ride that quickly goes sour. On the road with Skink, Richard develops a taste for roadkill (Skink won’t eat any other kind of meat), learns how to drive (Skink injures his foot saving a baby skunk from a semi) and reads Silent Spring (Skink is horrified Richard hasn’t encountered it in school). They follow Malley’s cryptic cellphone clues into a swamp that just may be ivory-billed–woodpecker habitat for a classic Hiaasen showdown. While this confrontation goes on a bit too long, that doesn’t diminish the pleasure of the developing relationship between Skink and the fatherless Richard, as trusty a protagonist as ever was.Hiaasen’s fierce love for the wilds of Florida, his fundamental commitment to decency and his penchant for the bizarre are all on full display in this, a read as agreeable as his hero is. (Fiction. 10-15)
"Skink and Richard make quite a dangerous and entertaining duo in a story that careens perfectly from one crazy situation to the next. Reluctant readers (especially guys) will surrender themselves to this page turner. Cross your fingers that we haven’t seen the last of Skink!" Booklist, starred
"If you were pursuing your cousin’s kidnapper across Florida, you would want a man like Skink at your side. Maybe." Kirkus Reviews
"Skink is larger than life.... A presence to be reckoned with." The Horn Book
"A high stakes, action-packed comedy with a lot of heart." —VOYA
Gr 9 Up—Richard and his cousin Malley are best friends. But while Richard is pretty levelheaded, Malley tends to get into trouble. So Richard is only mildly surprised to discover that she's run off with a guy she met on the Internet in order to avoid being sent to boarding school in New Hampshire. Richard wants to go find her, and luckily he runs into what may be the perfect person to help him do just that: a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida named Skink. With Skink at the helm, the two set off across Florida in search of Richard's cousin. While Malley's character is not as fully developed as the others and the story seems highly improbable, Skink, a favorite character from Hiaasen's adult novels, is incredibly memorable. Whether it's diving in to a gator-infested river after a rogue canoe, getting his foot run over by a semi while trying to save a baby turtle, or hiding out in the sand to save the next turtle, Skink is always full of surprises. And like a cat with nine lives, one never knows how he'll make it out or what will happen next. One thing's for sure: readers will want to be along for the ride. Although the ending meanders, fans of Hiaasen's novels won't mind the detours one bit.—Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA
Read an Excerpt
I walked down to the beach and waited for Malley, but she didn’t show up.
The moon was full and the ocean breeze felt warm. Two hours I sat there on the sand—no Malley. In the beginning it was just annoying, but after a while I began to worry that something was wrong.
My cousin, in spite of her issues, is a punctual person.
I kept calling her cell phone but it went straight to her voice mail, which was Malley chortling in a British accent: “I’m in the loo. Ring you back later!” I didn’t leave a message, and I didn’t text, either.
In case somebody else had her phone.
Somebody like her dad, who’s my uncle. He takes away Malley’s cell like twice a week as punishment for acting up, acting out, whatever. Still, even when she’s in trouble at home, she always finds a way to sneak out to the beach.
A few turtle people were scouting the shoreline, waggling their flashlights. I walked north, as Malley and I usu- ally did. We’d never seen a turtle actually laying her eggs, but we’d found several nests. The first thing you notice is the flipper tracks leading up from the water’s edge. Loggerheads, hawksbills and green turtles leave trenches like a mini–dune buggy when they drag their heavy shells across the sand.
After the mother turtle finishes depositing her eggs, she covers them with a loose, churned mound. Every time that Malley and I came across one, we’d call the state wildlife office and they would send an officer to mark it.
First, wooden stakes are tapped into the sand to create a rectangular perimeter outside the mound; then hot-pink ribbons are strung from one stake to the next. You can go to jail for messing with a turtle nest, so the officers put up a warning sign. Still, every so often some random idiot gets caught stealing the eggs, which are sold as a romantic ingredient in certain places.
Pathetic but true.
The phone chirped, but it wasn’t a text from Malley; it was my mom asking where the heck I was. I texted her that I was still down by the water, and that no savage criminals had tried to snatch me. Afterwards I tried Malley’s number once more, but she didn’t pick up.
So I walked on alone until I came to a marked nest that I didn’t remember seeing the last time Malley and I were there. The dig was new and soft. I picked a spot outside the warning ribbon and sat down holding my baseball bat, which Mom makes me carry for protection whenever I go to the beach after dark. It’s an Easton aluminum model left over from when I played Little League. I feel dorky carrying it, but Mom won’t let me out of the house if I don’t. Too many creeps in the world, she says.
The slanted moonlight made the waves look like curls of pink gold. I lay back, folded my arms behind my head and closed my eyes. The wind was easing, and I heard a train blow its horn to the west, on the mainland.
That wasn’t all. I heard the sound of breathing, too, and it wasn’t my own.
At first I thought: Turtle. The breaths were damp and shallow, like air being forced through a broken whistle.
I sat up and looked around: No sign of tracks. Maybe it was an old bobcat, watching me from the dunes. Or a raccoon—they like to dig up loggerhead nests and chow down the eggs. I slapped the Easton in the palm of my left hand, which stung. The noise was sharp enough to scare off most critters, but it didn’t frighten whatever was breathing nearby.
Leaving seemed like a smart idea, but I got only fifty yards before I turned and went back. Whatever I’d heard couldn’t be very large because otherwise I would have spotted it; there was really no place to hide on an empty beach under a full moon.
Approaching the turtle nest again, I put down the Easton and cupped my ears to muffle the sound of the waves. The mysterious breathing seemed to be coming from inside the rectangle of pink ribbons.
Could it be a crab? I wondered. A crab with asthma?
Because new turtle eggs don’t make a peep. That I knew for a fact.
Carefully I stepped over the border of ribbons and crouched on top of the nest. In and out went the raspy noise, slow and even. I leaned closer and saw a striped soda straw sticking out of the sand. Through the exposed end I could feel a puff of warm air whenever the underground creature exhaled.
No more than three inches of the straw was exposed, but that was enough to pinch between my fingers. When I pulled it out of the mound, the in-and-out noise stopped.
I stood dead still on my heels, waiting for a reaction. Honestly I wasn’t trying to suffocate the critter; I just wanted to make it crawl out so I could see what the heck it was. My thought was to take a picture with my phone and text it to Malley.
The world’s sneakiest crab, right?
But then, as I was peering at the spot where the soda straw had been, the turtle nest basically exploded. A full-grown man shot upright in a spray of sand, and my heart must have stopped beating for ten seconds.
Built like a grizzly, he was coughing and swearing and spitting through a long, caked beard. On his chiseled block of a head he wore (I swear) a flowered plastic shower cap. Even weirder, his left eye and right eye were pointed in totally different directions.
I vaulted back over the ribbon and snatched up my baseball bat.
He said, “Get serious, boy.”
After catching my breath, I asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Gagging, thanks to you.”
I tried to apologize but I couldn’t put the words together. I was too freaked.
“Let’s have your name,” the man said.
“They call you Rick?”
“Outstanding,” he said. “I like your parents already.”
“Dude, you can’t sleep in a turtle nest!”
“What’d you do with my straw?” He brushed himself off. I’m guessing he stood six four, six five. Large, like I said. He wore a moldy old army jacket and camo pants, and he was clutching a dirty duffel bag.
“They’ll put you in jail,” I said.
“Yeah?” He wheeled in a full circle, kicking violently at the sand with his boots. I covered my eyes.
“See, Richard,” he said when he was done, “it’s not a real turtle nest.”
One by one he yanked up the stakes and tied them together with the pink ribbons. He crammed the whole bundle into his duffel and said, “I was waiting on a man.”
“While you’re buried on a beach?”
“It’s meant to be a surprise. His name is Dodge Olney. Digs up turtle eggs and sells them on the black market for two bucks a pop. One night he’s gonna dig up me.”
“Then what?” I asked.
“He and I will have a chat.”
“Why don’t you just call the law?”
“Olney’s been arrested three times for robbing loggerhead nests,” the man explained. “The jailhouse experience has failed to rehabilitate him. I’ll be taking a different approach.”
There was no anger in his voice, but the slow way he said the words made me seriously glad not to be Mr. Olney.
“Tell me this, Richard. What are you doing out here?”
I don’t have much experience with homeless persons, so I was sort of sketched out. But he was an old dude, probably the same age as my grandpa, and I decided there was no way he could catch me if I ran.
Looking up and down the shore, I saw that I was on my own. The nearest flashlight beams were a couple hundred yards away—more turtle people. There was a row of private houses on the other side of the dunes, so I figured I could take off in that direction, if necessary. Pound on somebody’s door and yell for help.
“I’ve gotta get going,” I said to the stranger.
“If you see a girl out here about my age? That’s my cousin.” I wanted him to know, in case he got any crazy ideas. He was aware that in the moonlight I had a good look at his face, those weird eyeballs that didn’t match.
“You want me to have her call you?” he asked.
“Don’t talk to her, please. She’ll get scared.”
“Maybe you should find somewhere else to crash,” I said.
He grinned—and I mean these were the whitest, brightest, straightest teeth I ever saw. Not what you expect on a grungy old guy who’d just popped out of a hole.
“Son, I’ve walked the whole way from Lauderdale on this hunt, sleeping every night on the beach. That’s a hundred and thirty–odd miles, and you’re the first person to make it an issue.”
“It’s not an issue,” I said. “Just, you know, a suggestion.”
“Well, I got one for you: Go home.”
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“So you can give it to the cops? No thanks.”
I promised not to call the police, which was true for the moment. The man wasn’t breaking any laws, sleeping underground with a straw for a breathing tube. Really he wasn’t bothering a soul, and then I came along and riled him up.
“The name’s Clint Tyree,” he told me, “although I haven’t answered to it in years. Good night, now.”
He walked away, along the water’s edge. I sat down beside the remains of his fake turtle nest, took out my cell and Googled the name he’d given me, just to make sure he wasn’t listed on some child-predator site. He wasn’t.
He was, however, famous for something else.
When I caught up to him, half a mile down the beach, I told him that Wikipedia said he was dead.
Meet the Author
CARL HIAASEN was born and raised in Florida. He writes a column for the Miami Herald and is the author of many bestselling novels including Bad Monkey, Star Island, and Nautre Girl.
His books for younger readers include the Newbery Honor winner Hoot, as well as Flush, Scat, and Chomp. Skink—No Surrender was Hiaasen's first book for teens and features one of his most iconic characters, the reclusive ex-governor of Florida now known as Skink.
You can read more about Hiaasen's work at carlhiaasen.com.
- Tavernier, Florida
- Place of Birth:
- South Florida
- Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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As always entertaining and funny. A good read for everyone 14 and above. Hiaasen delivers again.
What a great story. Funny, believable, and very well written.
Loved the new Skink book. I think any teen would get a kick out of Hiaasen's humor and Skink's ingenuity (that part about the snell....yuck!). Maybe next time Skink and Jim will be back amongst some us older folks.
A good read about a couple of old friends & memorably eccentric characters. The two teenagers were a pleasant surprise.
Glad to have Skink back - Carl Hiaasens' characters are crazy and you probably would not want them in your neighborhood. Love all of his books and am anxiously awaiting the next one!!!!
Combining mayhem and environmental concerns in to a humorous tale is what Carl Hiassen does.For fans of the elusive, drop out, former governor of Florida and his guardian angel retired highway patrolman, and the new characters who cross their paths, this is a great read. I don't know the state well enough to verify historical facts or casual references to locales, but Hiaasen is as entertaining as ever.Put some time aside; you may read it straight through.
Skink wins again! A great story, with the normal underlying environmental message for kids of all ages.
The Governor is back! Carl Hiaasen is awesome! Thank You Hudak for steering me in Carl's direction!
Great book for ages 11 to 100
Hiason books never fail to entertain. This book is full of a fun journey with the beloved Skink "Governor " and Jim Tile. I throughly enjoyed this book.
I love this story and I love Hiaasen's storytelling featuring one of my very favorite characters.
While I liked No Surrender, I didn’t feel that is was as good as other Skink books. I think that was due to the perspective from which it was told (in this case a 14-year-old boy). A Skink book for the children if you would. Because of this some of the exploits were a bit tamer than usual which made it less laugh out loud funny and more like a regular book than a “Skink” book.
This was an excellent book, very much in the Hiaasen bizarro world where a character like Skink could live, but toned down for the younger audience, told from the point of view and narrated by a young teenaged boy. Personally, I wouldn't mind living in that world. :) The boy's cousin (who is a bit of a brat) meets up with and is kidnapped by a chat room stalker. After a serendipitous meeting with the governor at a turtle nesting site on the beach, the Hiaasen roller coaster ride starts, as Skink joins with the boy to find his cousin. Definitely worth the read.
We are very unpleased adout some of your reviews so we ask you to be nice and don't
Skink--No Surrender kinda says it all
If it was possibru, i would give the book 10 stars. This book was so good, i finished it in two days!!!! Thats how muck i loved it.
A Young Adult novel featuring our favorite ex-governor Clayton Tyree, now better known as “Skink”? Just how does Carl Hiaasen think his going to accomplish this?? Surprising well, in fact. Some concessions have to be made from the typical Hiaasen novel aimed at the adult set. For starters, no swearing. (OK, actually, there is PLENTY of swearing – just “off-screen”. We know this because our narrator advises us on multiple occasions that both Skink and the various supporting characters apparently have quite the potty mouths.) Secondly, no subplots; the reader doesn't have to invest the time in trying to figure out how the various plot threads are going to tie together when there's only one to track. And sex? C'mon – the most intense we get in this novel is the recognition of middle/high school crushes. (There ARE some questions raised about what the villain of the piece may have done off-camera, but these turn out to be groundless.) So, should an adult even bother with this book? OF COURSE!! This is the rare novel that appears aimed at BOTH YA and adult audiences, and successfully reaches both. (Think “Rocky and Bullwinkle” or “The Simpsons”, where your kids see humor on one level, and you catch an entirely different layer.) Hiaasen DOES invoke the first-person narrative common to YA novels, which is not something he traditionally does in his Florida satires. AND (perhaps the one concession to the YA reader that did not appeal to me), Hiaasen doesn't hint around with his messages of Florida history and natural conservation; they're clearly stated by our hero / narrator. RATING: 5 stars. Well done, and it will stick with me long after I've read subsequent books.
This is about a teenager with a rebellious cousin named Mandy. Mandy's parents want to send her to bording schol, and she ran away with a guy she met online. Her cousin met a wild man and they search for his cousin. This is definatly a YA book. It crosses into some PG-13 territory. It is fabulous. I highly recommend it.
Loved this book, as I have loved all of his books in the past. This gives some more insight into Skink. Can't wait for the next book!