Surprisingly, I finished Hoot today. (It's surprising because I usually don't read that fast, and I only started it a few days ago. But I was working under a deadline, so...) Discussion was supposed to start yesterday, but the rumpus is deserted, and I'm not going to be the first person to speak up around there. But I figured I should jot some thoughts down before I forget them.
About a third of the way through this book, I started wondering what made it a young adult book. I read Stormy Weather (by the same author, Carl Hiaasen) last year(?), and enjoyed it. I could see similar tendencies in the style of Hoot, notably the mysterious aura around the running boy and the quirky characters with less-than-reputable motivations. And at first, it seemed like the only difference was that the protagonist in this book was a kid. After all, the vocabulary was just as sophisticated as any mainstream adult book, and it's not exactly short in length. Sure, the plot was less twisted (and by "twisted" I mean both weird and entwined) than Stormy Weather, but is that what makes juvenile fiction?
As I thought about it more, and kept reading, I noticed themes that were common to kids' books, and also lots of lessons being learned. Mostly, it was the concern with the environment. It reminded me of elementary school, because we were always being pitched environmental causes, and it seems like I never get that anymore. AS an adult, I suppose I'm supposed to be more concerned with making money than maintaining the earth. Ok, if you say so.
Also, I noticed that Roy and his friends, the good kids, never did anything *too* illegal. They managed to solve the problem the "right" way, and they were heroes, while the bad kid got arrested. There's a lesson, if I've ever heard one.
The adults were either nice and reasonable, and helpful to Roy and his friends, or they were idiotic or mean, and got dirt thrown in their faces. Ok. That's pretty normal for a kids' book.
There's only one more comment I have: I think Chuck Muckle's middle initial should have been L.