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Skink -- No Surrender
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Carl Hiaasen's Skink -- No Surrender, involves plenty of violence, but much of it is presented as improbably cartoonish. There's gunplay, kidnapping, death by alligator, and attempted murder as 14-year-old Richard tries to save his cousin from the guy she met on the Internet. The author's first book for the teen audience offers Hiaasen staples galore, from Skink, the one-eyed superhero/former (and allegedly deceased) governor, to lots of Florida local color and environmental messages. Characters, especially teens, show colossally bad judgment with dire consequences, such as 14-year-old Malley running off with her online soul mate and discovering he's a mean thug with sex on his mind. Despite the lurid events, numerous perils, and gleeful use of gross-out (much of it having to do with whatever's serving as Skink's missing eye at the moment), evil has a way of getting its comeuppance, and good values, crafty thinking, and good connections often save the day.
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What's the story?
Fourteen-year-old cousins Richard and Malley have been BFFs practically since birth and make it their business to protect the eggs of nesting sea turtles near their Florida home -- which is why Richard senses trouble when Malley first doesn't show up for turtle-watching and then proceeds to tell him one obvious lie after another by phone and text. But, while he's on the beach looking for Malley, he meets the surreal Clint Tyree, protagonist of numerous Carl Hiaasen novels, who despite his strange appearance (one-eyed, bearded, and sporting a flowered shower cap -- and that's just for starters) proves to be a man of many resources. This comes in handy as the duo hits the road in search of Malley -- who, it turns out, has decided to avoid her parents' plan to send her to boarding school by running off with some "soul mate" she met on the Internet and is now sending Richard cries for help disguised as sunny travel reports.
Is it any good?
This book is not going to be every reader's dish. The main character is a crazed-looking hero with bird beaks and other strange objects in his matted beard, a fondness for eating roadkill, and a habit of popping out whatever's serving as a replacement for his missing eye. Also, the teen protagonists' ill-advised decisions are enough to make any parent's blood run cold.
But best-selling author Hiaasen's storytelling skills and trademark exuberant weirdness with a strong moral compass will keep adventure fans cracking up as they turn the pages in SKINK: NO SURRENDER -- and pick up a few life lessons along the way.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about environmental issues and Silent Spring. What do you know about the book and how it changed things?
Why do you think the ivory-billed woodpecker keeps turning up as a theme in stories? Do you think it symbolizes anything in particular?
After the adventures of No Surrender, do you think you'd like to visit Florida and check out the local plants, animals, and scenery? How does an author make a place seem exciting and interesting?
- Author: Carl Hiaasen
- Genre: Adventure
- Topics: Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs, Science and Nature, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Knopf
- Publication date: September 23, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 18
- Number of pages: 288
- Available on: Paperback, Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.