Skink - No Surrender (novel)
|Publisher||Alfred A. Knopf|
|Media type||Print (book)|
Skink - No Surrender is a young adult novel by Carl Hiaasen, published on September 23, 2014. It is described as Hiaasen's first young adult novel, after writing four novels for "young" readers. Like all of his novels, it is set in Hiaasen's native Florida.
Richard Spence (15) is worried when his cousin and best friend, Malley, fails to meet him for their regular nightly exploration of the beach at Loggerhead Beach, scouting for turtle nests. Noticing a soda straw poking out of such a nest, Richard pulls it up, and is surprised when a homeless man, "Skink" bursts out of the sand and complains about Richard ruining his trap. Skink explains that a poacher has been stealing eggs from the turtle nests at night and Skink has been lying in wait to "have a chat" with him. Richard apologizes and runs off.
Richard becomes even more worried when Malley's parents tell him she has left Florida for early orientation at the boarding school they enrolled her in, yet when Richard calls the school, its secretary tells him there is no such event. When Malley calls Richard, she admits that she has run away from home with a friend she met in an online chat room, and warns Richard not to tell the truth to her parents. When Richard encounters Skink again, Skink tells him, in no uncertain terms, to reveal the truth.
Malley's parents are alarmed, even more so when the police discover that the name of Malley's friend, "Talbo Chock," actually belongs to a soldier killed in Afghanistan, meaning Malley's new friend is an identity thief, and probably much worse. Richard is frantic, but after Skink has dealt with the turtle egg poacher, he announces that his next "project" is to track Malley down and bring her home safe, and he invites Richard to come along. Since the police have had no success in tracing Malley's whereabouts, Richard agrees, tricking his mother and stepfather into believing he is going camping with a friend.
Driving a nondescript Chevrolet Malibu provided by Skink's best friend, retired Florida Highway Patrolman Jim Tile, Skink heads toward the Florida Panhandle, since Malley's last phone call featured what sounded like a drawbridge in the background. At first, Richard despairs, since the police had no better luck with the clue, but during her next phone call, Malley claims to have seen a Ivory-billed woodpecker that morning. From a school science project, Richard knows the birds are classified as extinct, but only lived in one part of Florida, and Malley, who helped with the project, is telling him where she is. It is also clear, underneath her upbeat tone, that she is being held against her will and watched over by "Talbo Chock."
While they are camping one night, Skink is badly injured when he dashes into the road to save a baby skunk from being flattened by an oncoming truck; the skunk is saved, but the bones in Skink's right foot are crushed, leaving him unable to drive. Though Richard is underage, Skink coaches him to drive the car, and Tile, who has been shadowing them, provides a counterfeit license in Richard's name.
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