Saturday 14 April 2012

105. Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen
Published March 2012 Hachette

From the publisher:

Wahoo Cray has grown up with a zoo in his backyard - alligators, snakes, rats, monkeys, parrots, but it's his dad who's the unpredictable critter. When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called 'Expedition Survival', Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself to keep his dad from killing the show's inept star Derek Badger, who insists on using real wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna, a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out. They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties promptly get lost themselves. And Tuna's dad shows up with a gun...It's anyone's guess who will actually survive 'Expedition Survival!'

If you are a fan of Bear Grylls, then wait until you meet Derek Badger!  Derek Badger is the start of TVs ….and he is a cross between the afore mentioned Mr Grylls and Steve Irwin.  He has faced all manner of wild animals and hostile situations…or has he.

Derek may seem like the all action hero, but when he comes to the Florida Everglades and turns up on Wahoo’s doorstep looking for an animal wrangler on his new show, we get to see what really goes on behind the scenes of this  TV show.

Derek’s episodes are scripted, he uses tame animals, and he is flown out by helicopter every night to stay in a fancy hotel.  Wahoo and his Dad Mickey are not comfortable being part of the charade, and endangering innocent animals from the not so capable Derek, but money is tight and they about to loose their home. The Expedition Survival team are going to pay them $1000s to keep Derek alive and make him seem like the survival expert the world thinks he is.

Derek gets snapped by a snapping turtle, nearly killed by the world’s laziest alligator, repeatedly bitten by a harmless snake and has his tongue bitten by a bat that didn’t fancy being Derek’s dinner.

With all of this fun and games going on, there is also the story of Tuna, a girl from Wahoo’s class that has been living in a trailer at Wal-Mart.  When Mickey and Wahoo learn that the black eye she is sporting is courtesy of her Dad, they take her with them on the TV shoot.  They think they are doing the right thing, but Tuna’s Dad doesn’t seem to think so, and he comes looking for them.

This is when things really start to get crazy.  Tuna, Wahoo and their airboat driver are shot at,  Mickey is kidnapped by a gun totting angry father, and Derek is actually alone in the Everglades using the minimal survival skills he has, all the time thinking he is turning into a vampire...well he was bitten by a bat.

This is a substantial read (291 pages) so probably not suited for the reluctant reader, although the content may out weigh the length of the book.  It's a fun action packed book, but also a book about family and friendship.

Who will like this book: Boys age 10+
Read it if you like: Justin Dath's Extreme Adventure series

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