Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 493
Cryptids in the Florida Swamps
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
Adam is found on the side of the road after a car crash near a Florida swamp. He's injured, but his parents are missing. After some time in the hospital, his Uncle John picks him up and takes him home, giving him a little time to adjust to his new circumstances before going to school. It's hard, because not only are his parents gone, but Adam is pretty sure where-- right before the crash, he saw a shadowy figure that looked like a Sasquatch, and has a feeling that the creatures have his parents. He's so sure of this that he runs away from John's to find someone mentioned in a newspaper article as having seen a Bigfoot earlier. He manages to get to Travis Stanley's run down house, only to find that the man is in a wheelchair, bitter about his experiences, and perhaps even a bit deranged. After hearing all the man has to say, Adam decides to travel into the swamp to try to locate his parents. He takes supplies from Mr. Stanley's barn and head out, only to lose his boat to an aggressive sturgeon right away. Stranded, Adam starts to live off raw fish that he catches, his brain swirling from brief glimpses of an entire Sasquatch family. Stanley had talked about the fact that the creatures give off brain altering waves, and Adam certainly feels this. He also gets up close and personal with the creatures, comes to learn a bit about them, and gets some insight on what happened to his parents. He is eventually found injured gain, and tells his uncle about his experiences. Whether or not his uncle believes him, Adam's quest in the woods helps him to heal, and he also reaches out to Stanley and spends time with the man when he resumes his new life with his uncle.
Good Points
Like Martin's Hoax for Hire, this is a nice twist on the subject of cryptids. The idea that the creatures could scramble human thought with their sound was a good one. The big draw for this one is surviving in the wilderness, but Key always does interesting relationships, and Stanley is an intriguing character. I always love Key's notes about what inspired his writing. This had a little bit of a 1970s vibe to it, but that just might be because I remember Bigfoot being a big deal when I was growing up.

Cryptids are fascinating and not covered much in YA literature. There's Smith's Cryptid Hunters (2005), Zindel's Loch (1994)and Savage's new Nessie Quest, but there is room for many more titles like this.

Thanks to Key's powerfully descriptive language, I never, ever want to spend time in Florida swamps, but his books are HUGELY popular in my library and have a stalwart band of followers who read everything he has written. The fact that his books are all stand alones is fantastic. Every time I see a new one is being published, I feel a wave of relief that I have a new book to hand to students that doesn't require them to commit to eight books!
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