Carl Hiaasen's novels are treasures of hilarity, violence, comeuppance and ardent love for Florida wilderness. The very best of them feature "Skink," a wild man of the woods with a fantastic history and a twisted sense of justice. With Skink No Surrender, Hiaasen brings his greatest character to a new generation by transforming the violent, profane anti-hero into the star of a young adult novel.

Carl Hiaasen's no stranger to YA fiction; from Hoot to Flush (and others!), Hiaasen's demonstrated that he can easily move between the hard-boiled comic violence of his adult crime novels to gentler (but still funny) YA books that foreground his environmental concerns and move the hardcore punch-ups to the background.

But with Skink No Surrender, Hiaasen does something more improbable than anything his characters ever attempted, in all their varied and madcap careers: he turns Skink, AKA Clinton Tyree, the Vietnam vet-turned-reforming-Governor-of-Florida-turned-wild-man-of-the-woods, into a kids' hero. And he pulls it off!

Richard, a teenaged boy, is distraught after his cousin Malley runs off with an older man she's met on the Internet. But things get even more alarming when it becomes clear that Malley's secret love is holding her against her will. The wild Skink, freshly off his latest mission (hiding in fake turtle mounds, lying in wait for a notorious egg-poacher, whom he intends to beat within an inch of his life), takes up Richard's cause and the two light out for the Florida wilderness to find Malley and return her to her family.

The YA hero Skink does all the things that he does in beloved adult novels like Double Whammy — eats roadkill, metes out brutal justice to litterbugs, offers arcane and learned wisdom, and charms everyone he meets — but somehow, Hiaasen manages to hint at, rather than make explicit, the earthiest parts of Skink's nature, so that he appears in a book that could be given to teenagers by librarians without the latter risking their jobs.

The book itself is just a wonder, part love poem about the Florida wilds, part road-trip novel, and part thriller. The second half of the book, a long series of fake-outs in which Richard and Skink and Malley keep nearly getting clear of danger, is a nail-biter to rival Cape Fear.

I love Hiaasen for adults. I love Hiaasen for kids. But most of all, I love this Hiaasen, which brings the two writers together in one book.

-Cory Doctorow