After reading Chomp, I was charmed enough to want to pick up more of Hiaasen's work, be it books for adults or youths. After setting my own review live, I started poking around for others and noticed that some folks are generally "tired" of some of the recurring themes in Hiaasen's books. Naturally, it only made me all that more curious to check out Hoot and see what gave people this impression.
Roy Eberhardt moves around with his parents often due to his father's job. He has just moved to Florida, and being the new kid sucks. One day, while a bully on the bus had his face smushed on to a window, he noticed a curious boy running barefoot along the street. Roy's own curiosity got the better of him, and he gets sucked into an adventure right in his back yard. Following the boy that day completely changed his life.
Hoot shared some themes that I noticed in Chomp, such as bullying, irresponsible or abusive adults, and of course, the nature of Florida. I have more or less the same opinion now that I did when I read Chomp, and that is that I think it's necessary for kids to be exposed to these real-life issues and learn that there are ways to deal with them.
In the case of Hoot, the main character Roy has a good relationship with his parents, but is being bullied at school. The friends he met, however, have a terrible home situation. Beatrice Leep doesn't get along with her step mother, who has cast away her biological son and sent him away. This boy is the same kid that Roy saw running along the road one day and followed.
Roy wasn't a happy camper at his new home. He missed the wild outdoors and mountains of Montana, and longed to go back. After meeting the strange boy, later called Mullet Fingers, he starts to gain a whole new appreciation for the local wildlife. He also learned that a plot of land that should be a designated protected area for burrowing owls was about to be bulldozed over for a breakfast joint. Roy's biggest conflict in the course of this book, besides dealing with the bully at school, was figuring out how to save the owls.
Hoot contains an intelligent male protagonist, a strong female leading side character, which was also the case with Chomp. There's some commentary in there from a young person's point of view regarding adult behavior too, which was interesting for me to read. It wasn't too cheesy or heavy-handed, either.
The book is a quick and charming read that doesn't withhold too many secrets or surprises from the reader. The events are carried out rather predictably, but I didn't find it dragging on. If you're looking for a break between a long backlog, it could be a rather refreshing interlude!
[Buy it at Amazon or Books-A-Million:]
Hoot - Carl Hiaasen - Hardcover