Book Review: ‘Skink – No Surrender’ by Carl Hiaasen

Sorry to say, but know all about Santa.

Yeah, you learned the truth about the Jolly Old Elf years ago, but you let your younger sibs believe. Same with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy: get past grade school and you’re a little old for that stuff. So if, in the new book “Skink – No Surrender” by Carl Hiaasen, fourteen-year-old Richard Sloan said he met a one-eyed, bearded, beak-wearing man-bear on a Florida beach, who’d believe him?

Malley was almost never late.

It’s true that she was a rebel and gave her parents plenty of grief, but late? No, Richard Sloan knew his cousin Mal hated tardiness, which is why he was surprised when she didn’t show up on their nightly turtle nest hunt.

Figuring that Malley was grounded (again), Richard decided to scout for egg-laying loggerheads anyhow. He was sitting next to a turtle nest when he saw a drinking straw poking out of the ground – right before the sand exploded and a gigantic man burst from the beach, scaring the daylights out of Richard.

The guy was well over six feet tall, with different colored eyes pointing in different directions. He was wearing an ancient army jacket, camo pants, and vulture beaks tied in his long, scraggly beard. When he said his name was Clint Tyree, Richard couldn’t wait to Google it.

It turned out that Clint Tyree, college football star and Vietnam vet, had somehow gotten elected to the Florida governor’s office years ago. Halfway through his term, he disappeared. Rumors said he lived in the wilderness as a hermit called Skink; one post said Skink was dead, but Richard knew that wasn’t true.

He’d met Clint “Skink” Tyree. And Skink knew where Malley was.

She’d lied to her parents when she said she was leaving early for boarding school, and had instead run away with a man with a strange alias. But now there was trouble, few clues to her whereabouts, and a lot of places to hide in Florida ’s Gulf Coast . Riding with Skink in a plain gray car heading north, Richard hoped the governor knew all that.

And he hoped they weren’t too late…

So you’ve known the truth about Santa for a few years: the dude doesn’t exist. It’s a fact, but after reading this book you’ll wish that Skink did. I mean, what can you say about an old guy who eats road kill, barely bathes, is moral and kind, but hates trouble?

“Weirdly addictive.” That’s what you can say because author Carl Hiaasen’s main man – here in a teen novel for the first time – is someone you can’t resist. Indeed, the title character in “Skink – No Surrender” is outrageously, appealingly wild and the story is rompish with a surprisingly keen element of suspense, which will keep readers laughing and turning pages.

Adult fans of Skink will run to find this book, but it’s mostly meant for readers age 14 and up. Still, you know you want it because “Skink – No Surrender” will make you say ho-ho-ho.