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Skink--No Surrender

Review

Skink--No Surrender

Richard Sloan is about your average kid. He’s 14, dependable and level-headed, which is more than can be said for his cousin, Malley. She’s stubborn and sassy with a definite wild streak. To escape being shipped off to a New Hampshire boarding school far from sunny Florida, she runs away, but that’s nothing new to her family. Richard’s the first to realize that this time, it’s different. This time, it’s dangerous.
 
            Then there’s Skink. He’s the one-eyed, maybe-crazy ex-governor of Florida. Malley’s taken off with a guy she met online, and as time passes by and the police can find nothing, Richard fears the worst. When Skink determines to track Malley down, Richard joins him. Their search leads them across Florida, to a churning river, a handcuffed Malley, a wild pig and a lush swamp. Oh, not to mention a fake driver’s license, revenge on a litterer and an alligator (yes, an alligator). Richard is in for a ride.
 
There is the mark of a master in this engaging tale. Carl Hiaasen’s writing is natural and easy to read, and none of this highly-improbable, oh-so-enjoyable story can be packaged neatly into a box. 
 
            SKINK—NO SURRENDER is a novel that restored my faith in good books. An incredible (as in too wacky to be true) situation is incredibly (as in totally) believable. A large part of this is the varied, unlikely characters. The reader begins without knowing a lot about Richard, but the information builds slowly and naturally. He is not a cardboard cut-out character, and sympathy burgeons readily. Malley, too, is well thought-out --- not naïve, but still a victim. She’s intelligent enough to run away and yet stubborn enough to make this terrible mistake. Skink is the real star --- a fantastic, real, relatable character who always does the unexpected.
 
            There is the mark of a master in this engaging tale. Carl Hiaasen’s writing is natural and easy to read, and none of this highly-improbable, oh-so-enjoyable story can be packaged neatly into a box. The climax is drawn out; it isn’t a glorious moment of utter triumph, but rather something that works for the story and is very real. The message is clear about the dangers of online stalkers and the truly creepy people out there, but it is shown and developed, not forced down the reader’s throat. In the same way, Hiaasen’s concern about the environment shines through in a way that is genuine, not pushy. While I wish that there could have been less of the mild swearing, this story is truly delightful. The journey is tense and hilarious, never contrived. There is tenderness and desperation and humor. And it feels so very real.

Reviewed by Mary M., Teen Board Member on September 23, 2014

Skink--No Surrender
by Carl Hiaasen

  • Publication Date: September 23, 2014
  • Genres: Young Adult 12+
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0375870512
  • ISBN-13: 9780375870514