It's a quintessentially Hiaasen romp for a younger set, combining a message of taking care of the world with suspense, humor, a generous helping of Florida wildlife and much heart.
A National Book Award Longlist Selection
Classic Malley: her parents are about to ship her off to boarding school, so she takes off with some guy she met online... Poor Richard: he's less of a rebel than Malley, and a lot less trusting. He knows his cousin is 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, this unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.
In Carl Hiaasen's outrageous, hilarious, and wildly dangerous state of Florida, there are a million places an outlaw might stash a teenage girl. A million unpleasant ways to die. And two who will risk everything to rescue a friend . . . and to, hopefully, exact a bit of swamp justice.
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)
"The book itself is just a wonder, part love poem about the Florida wilds, part road-trip novel, and part thriller. The second half of the book is a nail-biter to rival Cape Fear. I love Hiaasen for adults. I love Hiaasen for kids. But most of all, I love this Hiaasen, which brings the two writers together in one book." Cory Doctorow
"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
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Excerpted from "Skink--No Surrender"
Copyright © 2014 Carl Hiaasen.
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