So I read Hoot with my kids and thought this was another adolescent fiction book. I figured I'd read it and then suggest it to my 11 year old (if it was an okay read). This is not a kid's book; this is an adult novel and unlike his adolescent fiction (which was good), I found this to be just juvenile adult humor.
First, while I thought the premise of Hoot was good (kids trying to save the owls and the environment); I found the premise here (an adult also trying to save a piece of land from development only this time it is for turtles) to just be repetitive. Doesn't Hiaasen have any other plot ideas? I mean really, we age the characters, throw in a bit more sex and violence, change Pancake house to mob boss, and owls to turtles and the new novel is ready to go.
As if the absurdity of the theft of the lotto ticked by white trash supremists and the introduction of the mafia wasn't enough, Hiaasen felt it was necessary to add in the abduction of the Hooters waitress. However, the whole kidnapping scene was ridiculous. She is driving the car, she knows that all he has is a screwdriver, and both her dad and boyfriend live near Hooters. So, why is it exactly that she doesn't drive to Tony or her parent's house and start honking the horn? Yeah, she might get stabbed by the screwdriver, but she isn't going to get raped or killed. Instead, she willing drives him ALL THE WAY TO THE KEYS???? Total garbage. I get that Amber was necessary to the plot later (and the return of the 2nd lotto ticket), but Hiaasen needed a better way for her to get there.
Another unnecessary (and stupid) plot twist was the whole excursion to the keys. If they want to escape, why not head to Tallahasse first to get the winnings? One of the tickets is rightfully theirs; wouldn't the whole thing have made more sense if they got that money first? I get that they have to wait on Jolaynes ticket and that they shouldn't collect the first batch of dough together, but why are they heading to the Keys instead of to Tallahasse? Oh yeah, because Hiaasen wanted to strand the bad guys on an island and get to rant about vultures later. Again, just garbage.
I think Hiaasen was trying to add some literary value by attemping to engage in a race discussion. However, I found each and every time that he brought it up to be stereotypical and shallow. We have the white trash supremists who are extremely offensive and we have suspicious Jolayne who rags on Tom for never having had a black girlfriend. Tom, on the other hand, is all eager and never once considers that maybe there are some negative social implications to this endeavor. I really just lacked any sort of complexity in the discussion.
I was also floored that both the Judge and Bernard Squires thought he could retire on $250K. I know this written in the 90s. But really, $250K would not allow anyone to retire to the Bahamas in an upper middle class life style since oh, say 1930!
Finally, Moffit was another necessary character (for the plot) but totally unbelievable. Why wouldn't he just have his ATF friends take out the bad guys? If they had the VHS tape and the evidence of injury to both JoLayne and Chub and Bade and they arrested Chub and Bade and found two lotto tickets on them, wouldn't that be enough? Why is it better for him to help them along in ways that could get him in trouble and then conveniently leave so they can muck about and then come back just in time to collect the VHS tape and get rid of Squires? Ugh...just all to convenient and weird and unbelievable.
I know this is stupid, but I was also annoyed at the spelling of cigarettes throughout. He uses "cigaret" (which according to my kindle version of the OED is an acceptable spelling, I grant you) and every time I saw it I wanted to scream.
Really, there was very little redeeming about the book. There were a few cute moments (and opportunistic set-ups), but the entire thing was mostly just rambling unbelievable nonsense. If it was 150 pages (instead of almost 500) it would have been okay.