Chomp by Carl Hiaasen. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.
Wahoo Cray’s yard is a zoo, literally. That’s where his dad, Mickey keeps all of their animals, including pythons, monkeys, and an alligator named Alice. Mickey is the best animal wrangler in Florida. Or he was until he got hit on the head by a frozen iguana. Since then he hasn’t been able to work. Money is so tight that Mickey accepts a job offer from the Expedition Survival TV series with Wahoo as his assistant. Things get off to a bad start when the show’s bumbling but egotistical star, Derek Badger, gets bitten by a snapping turtle and then an alligator. And that’s before he even leaves the safety of the Cray’s yard.
Then the real problems begin. After escaping his near-death encounter with the Cray’s alligator, Badger becomes convinced of his invincibility and is determined to film the rest of the episode on site in the Everglades with wild animals. Before filming is complete, he will also be bitten by numerous mosquitoes, two snakes, and a bat. Then, to the horror of his minders, he disappears into the swamp during a storm. When the abusive father of Wahoo’s friend Tuna arrives with a gun, Badger is no longer the only one in danger of not surviving this Everglades expedition.
As you would expect from a book with characters named Wahoo, Tuna, and Derek Badger, where frozen iguanas fall from trees, Chomp is over the top, laugh out loud fun. One of my favorite parts of the book is when Badger tries to eat a bat and it bites back. For all his bluster, the animals definitely get the better of this so-called survival expert. On the other hand, Wahoo is both capable and caring, trying his best to look after both animals and people. Fans of high action, fast-paced and funny books will definitely not want to miss this thrilling story.
This review also appeared on the Central Rappahannock Regional Library’s Shelf Life blog on May 17, 2012.