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Hiaasen Makes Fun of the Bear Gryls Type "Reality" TV Shows With a Few Other Side Stories in His Second Book for Teens,
This review is from: Chomp (Kindle Edition)
Chomp may well be marketed as a teen read but it's not really that much different to his adult novels. Adult fans won't be disappointed picking Chomp up, as aside from a teen named Wahoo being one of the main characters who's head we go inside to follow the story, it's pretty standard Hiaasen writing. Of course being a teens marketed read the graphic violence and sex isn't here but Chomp is still a nice funny Florida set thriller. Chomp is actually the second young adult novel by Hiaasen, with Scat being the first (there's actually a preview of that novel in the back of the hardback of the first few chapters). Prior to them both Hiaasen also wrote two younger children's books called Hoot (which a pretty decent and loyal to the book movie was also made) and Flush. Let's hope he continues to write to these age groups, as it's also refreshing for a young adult novel to appear on the shelves in 2012 that isn't about Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves or similar things from the fantasy genre.
The only thing reading Chomp may spoil for you (or young kids like Tuna, yes there is a girl called Tuna in here), is the illusion that TV shows like Man verse Wild are real. Hiaasen gives quite an accurate view of how this sort of show is filmed, especially the animal placement parts. As someone who worked in a wildlife park for a fair number of years I can vouch that rigging and so forth is how it is done, no one comes across an animal in the wild and just picks it up like on TV. Derek Badger, the pampered TV star in Chomp, is obviously supposed to be Bear Grylls, although he does mention Bear Grylls is on a rival channel. But still that's the type of show Hiaasen is making fun of in Chomp.
A young boy who's father can't work due to being hit in the head by a frozen iguana falling out of a tree, takes on the job of arranging animals from the family's business to star in Derek Badger's latest, simply because they need the money to pay the mortgage, while there mother is overseas on a teaching gig to pay the bills. Of course Derek has a different view of animal welfare to Wahoo and his father. In fact Derek's trademark is eating a creature at some stage during each episode, something Wahoo and his father won't be letting happen. The plot goes beyond the family wildlife zoo into the swamps of Florida. A young female classmate who Wahoo has never really talked to before is also thrown into the plot on the run from a violent abusive father. I liked how Hiaasen doesn't give into the wishes of Mills and Boon old lady type readers and doesn't cheapen the book by putting in a romance angle between the kids but instead keeps it on the more important and serious topic of what should you do if you discover someone at your school is in this sort of situation for that part of the plot.
Not sure if the other versions do but the hard copy version (with the same cover as the Kindle version) comes with the odd black silhouette mostly animal illustration on random pages throughout and then names them all after the story is complete before the preview of Scat. I also liked how the barcode on the back cover has seperated to resemble an aligators teeth about to chomp! It's a nice touch.
If you liked the whole inside look through a humorous tale look at the reality TV shows involving animals, you might want to check out the adult fiction book The Endangered List by Brian Westlake, set in Australia after the death of Steve Irwin and the scramble for a replacement. It also gives a good accurate inside look into how those types of wildlife reality shows are made.