14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 22 November 2009
By the time I was half way through this book I forgot that it was aimed at a young audience because I was enjoying it so much. That's not to say that it isn't suitablle for kids - it absolutely is - just that it's such a well plotted story that runs at such a lovely quick pace that it doesn't matter who you. You'll really feel safe in the hands of an assured storyteller.
If you've read any other Carl Hiaasen books then you'll know that there is always a familiar backdrop: the potential destruction of the delicate natural environment of Florida. It's not a preachy book though, or at least I didn't find it so. The environmental issues are just a backdrop to the comic and thrilling mishaps of the cast of classic Hiaasen characters, with their often overblown features and slightly over the top mannerisms.
The only reason I don't give this five stars is because if you read it alongside a couple of other Hiaasen books the stories would most likely blend into one. But on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with consistency if it's consistent excellence!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2010
Who is this book written for? Children, teenagers, adults? Who cares? Carl Hiaasen has written another great book on the absurdities that stupidity, greed, and indifference can lead to. I have been a great fan of Hiaasen for a long time, and I was a bit disappointed that he seemed to be focusing on writing for young adults with his latest books. I also liked his recent books for adults (e.g., Nature Girl) less; many characters did not really come to live, and the stories were just a bit too farfetched. I was therefore a slightly hesitant to buy Scat. Most of the main characters are teenagers, but I am not sure that the book is really written for young adults. Relations are occasionally described in a way that young adults will probably fail to understand. But, of course, it does not matter who the book was written for. It is simply a very good, funny, and thought-provoking book. The characters are excellent. Hiaasen writes in his usual understated way, and lets that events speak for themselves. Apart from the main line there are various additional story lines, which make it a very rich book. This is Hiaasen at his best.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Nick and Marta are two of the lucky eighth-grade students in Mrs. Starch's (who just happens to be the most feared teacher in the history of the world!) biology class. Every day they sit and pass notes back and forth to each other, discussing their fear of being called on.
The day after their field trip to the Black Vine Swamp, something mysterious happens. Mrs. Starch doesn't come back, and she is never absent, and people start to wonder. While there might be a scrawled note and a message on her answering machine that states that she has had to deal with a family emergency, people, especially Nick and Marta, aren't buying it.
They are all convinced that Smoke, the kid in Mrs. Starch's class that she dislikes the most, has something to do with her disappearance.
In a whirlwind adventure filled with arson, endangered animals, the Iraq war, the Florida wet lands, a money hungry wannabe oil rigger, and panther poop, Nick and Marta set out to find their missing biology teacher.
Carl Hiaasen definitely has a knack for adventure. Every story he creates always has some crazy plot that makes you think as well as laugh! In this case, Hiaasen poses the problem of destroying the environment for monetary gain and how it affects the ecosystem in a hilarious manner. He also throws in some other great themes to think about: not judging people by their history/the way they look, believing in yourself and never giving up, learning to live with what you've got, and working as a team.
These themes are so important for younger readers (and sometimes older!) to learn, and Hiaasen did such a great job of incorporating them into the book without blatantly stating them. While this book has more of a middle-grade audience, it is great for all ages of readers, although there is a tad bit of language. Overall, I think the book was masterfully written and was a worthwhile and entertaining read.
Reviewed by: Tasha
This is one of crime writer, Carl Hiaasen's books for the young adult/teen market. It follows the formula of his adult books with a deep and abiding interest in the environment and the preservation of endangered animals/habitats and a decent crime to leaven the mix. Nick is a young man whose father has just been injured in Iraq. Worried about his father, things get more troubling when out on a field trip in the Black Vine Swamp with his class, the witch like and highly unpopular teacher Mrs. Starch goes missing when a wild fire breaks out. A troubled young man in Nick's class is blamed, and just before the boy runs away from the law he confides in Nick that he is innocent. Nick becomes embroiled in trying to sort out the mystery of what went on in Black Vine Swamp as well as coming to terms with what has happened to his father.
The synopsis doesn't really do the book justice. The environmental aspects are always handled well by Hiaasen. He educates but never preaches, and his interest in, and fascination with the land gives him a knack of writing about it in a thoroughly engaging way. The characters are well drawn, the plot is taut and pacey. There is a great element of humour, and a fair smattering of violence which make the book rather appealing. Having said that it is entirely suitable for a teen audience, or even younger readers with an advanced reading age as there is no sex or swearing. As an adult I enjoyed it thoroughly and was not aware that I was reading something particularly written for teens.
Don't miss this book!
I admire Carl Hiaasen's messages, story-telling ability, and writing skill as expressed in Scat. While the story is slightly gentler than what an adult version might read like, Scat doesn't talk down to younger readers. Instead, Mr. Hiaasen assumes that all his readers are caring, concerned, idealistic, and dedicated to doing the right thing. We need more books like this one.
In weaving his tale, Mr. Hiaasen shares a point of view that what seems to separate us is less important than what should draw us together: Selfish, inappropriate desires drive us apart and everything else is good glue. The book is populated by selfish people (both present and not present, but referred to) and people who find that their concern for others (including all the animals) is greater than their concern for their immediate comfort.
If you aren't in favor of protecting endangered species when you start Scat, you may well become one after reading this story. In addition, you'll realize that you can play a role in helping: You just have to reach out to find and do something useful.
Teachers will love the way that Scat shows that teachers can be better and worse than their students and administrators. Students may learn not to judge teachers too quickly by their appearances and mannerisms in the classroom. I didn't learn that lesson until I was almost 16 when I had a teacher who was terrific to and for me, but whose quirks made her a source of humor for many of my classmates. I honor to this day what Mrs. Verna L. Reynolds did for me. In some ways, she could have served as a prototype for Mrs. Starch (don't you love that name?) in the book. I wish I could share this book with her, but she's passed on to a better place.
I also think that this book could be a big blessing to families where a member has served in the military and the results of that service weren't always what were hoped for.
The book also has a lot of the trademark Hiaasen humor. There are two scenes involving Smoke and Mrs. Starch that cracked me up causing gales of laughter to erupt.
As the book opens, there's a tense scene in biology class as Mrs. Starch tries unsuccessfully to find a student who has read the assignment and is willing to answer a question. When she chooses the grumpy Smoke, it gets rougher for everyone. How could a teacher humiliate a student like Mrs. Starch did to Smoke? That scene is followed by the mysterious disappearance of Mrs. Starch at the end of a biology field trip cut short by a wildfire. Smoke cannot be found either. There's an old saying: Where there's smoke, there's fire. Is that the case here?
The mystery takes all kinds of twists and turns, including the unexpected delivery of a student's inhaler in the middle of the night.
And what did Nick see and hear in the swamp?
Be prepared to learn two meanings of the word, "scat."
As a person who has fond memories of wildlife tales where the average person becomes a hero, I have to say that when this offering by Carl Hiaasen landed I was more than curious. Within this offering are every day characters who learn that they can be more, that they can overcome their own troubles to help something more than their own desires. It promotes positive traits, it help's promote ideal's and above all else it demonstrates that justice is not blind to million dollar companies. This title was a real joy to read and one that I can heartily recommend as personal struggles are overcome to positive effect and it goes to show that the little guy can make a real difference in this title where the eco message is passed on to the next generation.
on 28 March 2011
This book is aimed at teenagers but is a good read for slightly older kids like me. Anyone familiar with Carl Hiaasen's work will see lots of familiar themes here - eccentric characters, a well-plotted adventure and of course Florida conservation. That's probably my only criticism - I'd love to read a Hiaasen book that wasn't all about protecting Florida's natural habitat and its residents. Don't get me wrong - it's a worthy cause but a change would be good too.
on 16 January 2015
This is a children's book, aimed at 10+ However it's gripping and funny! I'm going to buy it for our school library as it's not only a great read, but yet again reminds the reader of the environmental craziness we do to our beautiful world.
The main characters are likeable and I must admit to shedding a tear at the end!
Worth the read or the additon to your Carl Hiaasen collection!
on 30 June 2013
It has been a while since I have read a Carl Hiaasen book. After my first one back in the 90s I read any I could get my hands on and eagerly awaited for him to write the next. They are always cleverly written and appeal to the Eco-warrior in me. Is this the origin of Smoke? In true Hiaasen style one always meets up with an old friend in his books. And I have a load of his books to catch up on! W00t!
on 25 April 2013
This is one great book with an interesting story and interesting characters.
A must read book that sucks you into it and you just can't put it down.
I really didn't read these types of books till my friend recommend it to me! And when I
did read it and finished it, I bought the second one straight away!
5/5 stars, Well done Carl Hiaasen!