Tuesday, June 12, 2012
by Carl Hiaasen
Alfred A. Knopf
Satirical and sadistic, funny and fantastic, entertaining and explosive, Chomp is the latest literary frolic into Florida's wildlife genre. Hiaasen is at his hilarious best when making fun of reality television, nature shows, and a Hollywood superstar animal handler who really knows nothing about wild animals.
Derek Badger is a maniacal ego junkie who thinks he can handle any wild animal. His show "Expedition Survival" has the ratings all right, but he is far from the wildlife expert. Originally a tap dancer, Derek saw the chance to become famous. He changed his name, put on a super-sexy Australian accent, and hammed it up in front of the camera. Now his show has invaded Florida offering big money to use wild animals provided by Wahoo and his father. They have a wildlife retreat where they take in orphaned and hurt alligators, snakes, raccoons, monkeys, and turtles. In a bind for money and afraid of their home foreclosing, Mickey Cray agrees to rent out their animals as part of the show.
When "handler" Derek gets overly rough with the python, Mickey gets crazy. He wants to protect his animals and any cost and won't have a Hollywood idiot hurting them for any amount of money. The show's producer keeps reminding Mickey that he's "under contract." Contract or no contract, Mickey won't go along with the star's crazy antics. Derek will do anything for ratings, including wrestling alligators, eating weird bugs and creepy crawlies, and making every animal--even the tame ones--seem like lethal predators.
The show's director offers Mickey and Wahoo extra money for taking them into the Everglades; on the way, they run into Tuna, a school friend of Wahoo's and they take her along.
More shenanigans transpire with Derek "borrowing" an airboat, getting hopelessly lost in the 'glades, and attacked by bats. If not for Wahoo, Mickey and Tuna, Derek would be a goner.
Highly, highly recommended for anyone who likes a funny and entertaining read. Grades 7-up. No language, funny situations.
FTC Required Disclaimer: I bought this book for my library. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this review.