Gantos has written an entertaining story full of slightly weird characters that elegantly combines history (of the 1930s and 1960s) with a thriller element. So even if you’re not especially interested in historical facts, the Agatha Christie-like plot will easily get you interested in the story.
Hiaasen, who has written a number of very entertaining thrillers for adults, has also given us a handful of YANs, all of which are set in Florida and deal with ecological topics wrapped in fast-paced adventure stories.
In his latest young adult offering, Hiaasen bridges the gap to his adult books. Skink No Surrender is a bit tougher, a bit less sentimental and a bit more fast-paced than his former YANs. Plus the veneer of educational ‘worthiness’ has disappeared, too.
Skink, a popular hero from Hiaasen’s previous adult novels, is a former governor of Florida, who wanders the swamps living off roadkill and severely punishing any car drivers who litter the roads. He is now 70 plus and is a wonderfully bizarre character and we owe Hiaasen one for having created such a memorable figure.
This time Skink, in his first YAN, is helping Richard, the narrator of the story, to find his 14-year-old cousin Malley, who was stupid enough to run off with a guy she met in a chatroom on the Internet. Big mistake, because that guy, we discover, is a small-time criminal twice her age, and he is certainly up to no good as we soon find out. Malley is kept prisoner somewhere in the swamps so he can marry her asap.
Richard and Skink start searching for her, following a few clues from Malley herself and their own knowledge of the swap environment. When they finally catch up with them, the adventure is not over. It takes another 100 pages full of action and ups and downs before we can come to a satisfactory conclusion.
Hiaasen’s novels always entertain, but his latest YAN is certainly the most fast-paced and action-packed of them all. Not to be missed.