Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

ChompChomp by Carl Hiaasen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I started Chomp, I had reservations. The description mentioned other installments in Carl Hiaasen's foray into young adult literature that have a humorous and environmentalist slant. The humorous part sounded good. The environmentalist bit gave me pause. Don't get me wrong: I love Mother Earth and all that jazz. I recycle as long as our program allows, I compost in my backyard and I never release reptiles from the pet store into the wild. I just don't consider reading a sermon entertainment. Fortunately, Chomp is not a sermon on eco-friendly living.

Our hero, Wahoo, is trying to help his family get back on its feet financially. His father, Mickey Cray, is a well-known animal wrangler for nature programs, but he has been laid-up for a while due to a concussion. A frozen iguana fell out of a tree and hit him on the head. Apparently a lot of pet lovers have turned way too many iguanas loose over the years, and they don't mix well with Florida's ecosystem. (Oh yes, you got your dose of environmentalism there now didn't cha?) Wahoo's mom is so concerned about the family finances that she has run off to China to teach and send some money home. Her absence only makes Mickey's condition deteriorate further. Wahoo finds out about a job opportunity with Derek Badger's reality TV program, Operation Survival!, and even though he still has doubts about his father's condition, he knows his family can't afford to pass-up the job.

Unfortunately, once Wahoo and Mickey meet Derek Badger, they realize that Derek needs more wrangling than the animals. At least the animals were born with some natural sense. Derek on the other hand doesn't have any. He just wants crazy stunts that look cool on camera and he's a monumental klutz.

It's tempting to give Chomp a five star rating because as I think about it, it's hard to imagine what anyone might need that this book doesn't have in it: critters with big sharp teeth, the Florida Everglades, a crazy TV star, and references to a terrible vampire series---no, it's not what you think.

***This review is based on a digital galley furnished by Random House via NetGalley.***

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