I love Hiaasen also, but this was one of his weakest, adult or YA. YA books often have simplistic plots, but this one was overly facile and the adults in it gave unbelievable leeway to their children on little provocation. There is no way in hell I would be OK with my son wandering off with an unknown man in search of a kidnapped cousin held by a murderer, even if a state trooper vouched for the stranger. Add in that the son’s cousin had just been kidnapped and I would have immediately gone to the cops.
I also don’t see an intelligent, ballsy and mistrusting teenage girl running off with someone she met on an Internet chat room. Not that I can’t see any teenage girls doing it, but the character as presented by Hiaasen would not have put herself in the position where she could be kidnapped by the kind of idiot who kidnapped her. If nothing else, she would have Googled the kidnapper’s poem and found out he was a plagiarist.
And, not for nothing, if I were a teenage boy I would not wander off with a stranger who buries himself in the sand to catch a turtle killer and beat him to a pulp, then eats roadkill and steals cars.
Yes, Hiaasen’s books are fantastic (as in fantasy) but the motivations really don’t seem terribly realistic for the teenagers or parents in the real world, or in the world Hiaasen created. Frankly, Skink is the only character who acts in a consistent and believable way.
That was my problem with The Last Starfighter, too. MY KID going off into interstallar space with some band-instrument-peddling conman wearing a rubber-mask? I think not.
I might let the kid go off with an alien after seeing the scores on the game and the fighter ship. Wasn’t the trailer park attacked before the kid went, too? It’s been a long time since I saw it.
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