Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

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Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

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Category: Teens
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Linda Lawlor
Reviewed by Linda Lawlor
Summary: Mickey Cray, an animal wrangler, has been employed to work on a TV show with Derek Badger, the survivalist. But Mickey has a head injury after a frozen iguana landed on him (don't ask) so it's up to his son Wahoo to make sure things go smoothly. And to say that he's got his hands full in this romp through the Florida Everglades is a serious understatement.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 288 Date: April 2012
Publisher: Orion
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781444005066

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Wahoo isn't a cool kid. He can't play sports, and he doesn't have the latest gear. But no one at school bullies him because Alice, the twelve-foot alligator who lives in his dad's zoo, accidentally bit his thumb off one day. The other kids reckon if he can walk away from an ordeal like that, then he must have something going for him. And by the time this story is over, he'll be up to his ears in street-cred.

The famous and popular survivalist Derek Badger wants to hire Mickey and Wahoo to accompany him to the Everglades for one of his shows. To entertain his viewers Derek will wrestle with alligators, struggle to the death with snakes, and at some point perform his signature stunt by eating some poor defenceless creature. The Crays eventually, and very reluctantly, agree to take the job because they're way behind on the mortgage. Trouble is, Badger's a complete idiot with no sense of self-preservation, and Mickey doesn't handle human stupidity too well. And then Wahoo meets a girl from his class who's been badly beaten by her dad, and he invites her to join them for a few days. Unfortunately, Tuna's dad is a mean drunk, and he's got a gun . . . Oh, and there's a vampire too (well, sort of) but if you want to know about that, you'll have to read the book.

Hiaasen has written several eco-thrillers, and he has a knack for creating stories which get the point over about conservation and the dumb things humans do their world without sounding preachy or dull. Satire is a powerful weapon in the hands of an expert, and you're more likely to laugh out loud than cry during this book because the situations the characters get themselves into are so utterly off-the-wall. We see a phoney world where TV executives are happily prepared to accept the death of a troublesome star to save money, and where limelight-seeking actors have more dollars than brain cells. Compare this to the Crays, who lead poor but honest lives, caring for their animals and doing their best to make ends meet, and to the animals themselves, who demonstrate more common sense than the majority of the humans. They do what the rest of us long to, so be careful where you read this book: you may find yourself standing up and cheering out loud for the poop-tossing monkeys and their companions.

You may or may not feel the need to storm to the Everglades once you've read this book, in order to do something serious about the crazy mix of non-native animals that end up there and the humans who exploit them. But one thing is sure: you will never, ever, ever watch another one of those man-in-the-wilderness survival shows the same way!

Hiaasen has also written Scat, another book for teens and older confident readers, about conservation in the Florida Everglades. It's well worth a look. A Hard Death by Jonathan Hayes is also set in the Everglades.

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Buy Chomp by Carl Hiaasen at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Chomp by Carl Hiaasen at


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