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Shelf Indulgence

Books. Reviews.

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Aftermath
Chuck Wendig
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany
Jackals
Charles L. Grant

Scat

Scat - Carl Hiaasen Scat is the third in the series of juvenile novels Carl Hiaasen has written, and the craziest thing about the book (not counting the lunatics who populate the good and bad sides of his books) is that it reads exactly like any other Carl Hiaasen book, just without the sex or the deviants, with less violence, and with less swearing. The plot, the characters, and the environmental theme are all present in Scat, just like it’s been present in Hoot and Flush, and all of Hiaasen’s other novels for adults. So even if you’re not a fan of kids’ books, you might still find something of value in this novel.

This time around, the kids in the novel are part of a scheme to protect the endangered Florida panther from the schemes of an evil oil-drilling company, who are drilling illegally in parts of the wetlands. They team up with the usual gang of oddballs, including their biology teacher (a cranky, stereotypically “evil” teacher), their classmate (a possible juvenile delinquent), and some Hayduke wannabe who traipses around in the jungles, unafraid and seemingly immune to the dangers of such a lifestyle. If that sounds a lot like a guy named Skink to you, then you’re on the right track for this book.

Moreso than the typical Hiaasen plot is a sub-plot (sub-theme, really) involving the main character and his relationship with his father, a recently returned war veteran from Iraq who has lost his right arm. Hiaasen explores the way this sort of thing affects a father-son relationship, especially in a case where both father and son participate in very physical activities as a bonding process. There was something very genuine in that relationship, and how the author presented it, that was worth reading the rest of the novel to get. I mean, I enjoy Hiaasen’s books, so it’s not like I suffered through the rest of the story to participate that relationship, but that it was there added a certain depth to the story.

Like his other works, Scat is a book with a lot of macho manliness, even though it doesn’t lack for strong female characters. I think that Hiaasen is more an author for men than women, but if you like good, gripping stories with likeable characters and genuine relationships, you wouldn’t be remiss in reading this one. His juvenile novels are definitely a great place to start (though Hoot was better, and Flush was worse).