Flush, by Carl Hiaasen is one of his handful of books written for teens, not to be confused with his adult crime fiction, although they do tend to cross over in terms of preoccupations at times. Hiaasen writes about Florida and its ecology with an undimmed passion, and his teen books are no exception. He also likes to add in elements of criminal activity in the teen books, although always in terms of being an eco warrior, rather than mindless vandalism.
I read this book to my children, who love Hiaasen’s work. We romped through, Hoot, Chomp and Scat, but foundered rather with this book, which has taken us a few months to finish rather than the usual few weeks. We all agreed that we didn’t find it as strong in terms of plot and it was not quite as funny or compelling as his other works. Having said that, it was still very enjoyable, but we think we were spoiled by reading the others first. We suggest you start with this, and then move on to the other books, which will be even more of a treat afterwards.
Flush tells the story of Noah and his sister Abby who become reluctant eco warriors when their father is jailed for sinking a casino pleasure boat that is polluting their local marina with toilet waste. They decide to vindicate their dad, proving he is right and hopefully saving their parents marriage into the bargain.
There are some wonderfully humorous touches, which we have come to expect from Hiaasen, although not as many as we would have liked. There are also some fantastic characters; the slimy Lice Peeking and his resourceful and brilliant girlfriend Shelley, the mysterious pirate who comes to the children’s rescue, and the revolting bully Jasper Jr are all fantastic.
The book would work well for older readers aged 10 and up, both girls and boys. It has some small amount of swearing, a little violence, although nothing gratuitous, and some oblique sexual references, all of which make it fun to read if you’re young and you think you shouldn’t be reading this stuff, and which are absolutely nothing to worry about if you’re a parent or teacher.
We have not been put off by this book, despite it being our least favourite so far, and the next book the children have chosen for me to read to them is also a Carl Hiaasen book, Skink: No Surrender. Let’s hope it’s a good one.