Wahoo (yes, that’s his given name–read the book to find out why) is left at home with his father while his mother travels to China to teach Mandarin to American businessmen overseas. Wahoo’s father, Mickey, is an animal wrangler. Unfortunately, Mickey is not able to work due to a freak accident wherein a frozen iguana fell out of a tree and conked him on the head resulting in a serious head injury. This has resulted in intermittent double vision and paralyzing headaches.
Mickey’s inability to work has caused the family to fall behind in their mortgage payments–hence Mom taking the job in China. With his mother in China, his older sister at college and his father still recuperating Wahoo agrees to take a job with his father for the reality television show Expedition: Survival. After some ludicrous filming with the pompous and incompetent star of the show, Derek Badger, at Mickey’s facility the show’s producers ask Mickey to come as the animal expert and handler on the filming of a special episode in the Everglades. With the promise of enough money to catch up on their mortgage Mickey agrees to the job–despite his disgust for Derek Badger’s outrageously foolish and dangerous behavior.
From Badger’s obsession with a vampire trilogy and his encounter with a real bat to a manhunt for a cruel and dangerous man that puts Wahoo, his father and Wahoo’s new friend Tuna (again, her real, given name) in mortal danger Chomp is a thrill ride of laughter and suspense.
Chomp stays true to all the best things about Carl Hiaasen’s stories. His stable of absurdly funny, shallow characters are always seamlessly melded into the storylines of his more complicated, three-dimensional main characters. If you like droll humor, smart parody and a splash of excellent–occasionally belly-laugh-worthy–slapstick Chomp is for you! This has ended up being one of my favorites of Hiaasen’s extensive body of work. It’s clever and funny with a few touching (though not overly so) moments in all the ways I, personally, love best.