By Awnali Mills
Walking on the beach one evening, Richard encounters Skink, an enormous, scruffy old man with a missing eye, a mysterious past, and buzzard beaks woven into his scraggly beard. The two strike up a friendship, as they are both trying to protect loggerhead turtles.
Richard’s cousin Malley has done something incredibly stupid: she’s run off with a guy she met online. Richard and his family are worried sick, but Malley keeps calling to let them know that she’s okay. But Richard quickly figures out that she isn’t okay, and she gives him coded messages to let him know how to find her.
When Skink hears what’s happened to Malley, he resolves to go after her, and Richard can’t let him go by himself. Together the two of them head out on a madcap ride to find and rescue Malley that involves roadkill, alligators, wild pigs, storms, and the Lord God bird.
Skink No Surrender is written by Carl Hiaasen and read by Kirby Heyborne. The book is very funny, and had plenty of material that grossed me out. I spent lots of time with one hand on the wheel and one hand over my mouth going, “Ick, ick, ick!” while giggling. Skink is definitely a crazy character—so crazy that he’s totally believable, as in “the truth is stranger than fiction.” Richard is a charmingly normal teenage boy who just wants to save his cousin, and Malley is very convincing as a spoiled, headstrong girl who’s gotten in way over her head. Heyborne does a great job with the different voices, making it very easy to distinguish who’s talking. I adored the way he voiced Skink—I could totally envision the courtly old man with a penchant for eating roadkill.
Teens who like crazy adventure stories, or who have a passion for environmentalism will enjoy Skink No Surrender.