Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rosy's scrawled book recommendation: Chomped by Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, and snappers in his backyard. The critters, he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.
When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called Expedition Survival!, Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's inept and egotistical star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger foolishly believes his own PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her father and needs a place to hide out.
They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun . . .
It's anyone's guess who will actually survive Expedition Survival. . .

Knopf Books for Young Readers


Rosy's scrawlings on Chomped
Now here's where I have failed. I have other books by Carl Hiaasen stashed and ready for reading but they've somehow sunk beyond sight into the void at the back of my double stack and top stacked and layered bookshelf (one of them anyway - yes, I need more and I'm hoping one day to create a home library of sorts but the odds of that happening...). So I saw this book for sale recently, recognised the author's name and bought it for the unusual blurb. This one I did manage to read fairly immediately as it was just there and I didn't need to search for a prequel or sequel or behind, on top or under other books. And my hunch about Carl Hiaasen's writing proved correct. He writes a zinger of a book.
Chomped is a young adults book but mostly in lieu of the humour, the more serious issues addressed and the age of Wahoo and Tuna, the two protagonists. Wahoo is a happy go lucky sort of a lot of experience with animals and determined father's whose main friends include Alice the alligator and his mother. Wahoo seems to have a time of it handling his harebrained father and making sure he acts in the family's best interests and pulls them all out of debt but his issues, which tend to lead to humorous situations more than anything, pale in comparison to those of Tuna who's alcoholic gun-toting dad has decided to hunt her down, gun blazing. Tuna, for her part, is a studious girl who works hard to remember all the scientific names for the flora and fauna she sees as a method of mentally escaping the scary life she's leading. Wahoo and Tuna take the helm of the story and their lives as they are increasingly placed at risk by a cast  of out-of-control characters like Link the ex-abused son now grown up criminal and fraudster, Derek Badger the fake survivalist and spoilt TV star, Tuna's abusive father Jared Gordon and Derek's manager, servant, carer, 'mother' and general dogs-body Raven Stark. No-one has their life in order so in the chaos that surrounds them Wahoo and Tuna are spot of true survivalist sanity.
The writing style of Chomped is light and easy to read, both aloud and silently, despite the heavy issues included and the odd naming of characters. The main writing element that makes this book young adult is that there aren't too many overly-complicated words. I don't mean to say that there aren't such references as the scientific names for things or explanations of how these names are constructed but that you won't be running to the dictionary as everything is spelt out or of a level a high-schooler of any age should understand rather well. Chomped definitely doesn't read as dumbed down. In fact, I'd have to say that this is a well written book suitable for a wide audience but the marketing and cover targets it to young adults more than the writing.

I'd recommend this book to: both boys and girls, those who enjoy reading books with believable youths as protagonists, readers wanting more depth to their teen fiction than obsessive teen romance, and those looking for a fun and quirky romp of a story.

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