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Friday, February 26, 2010

Island Sting by Bonnie J Doerr

Island Sting by Bonnie J. Doerr
Publisher: Leap books,
Genre: Action/adventure, contemporary
Length: Full Length (276 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Rating: 5 suns
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Kenzie didn’t expect her first summer in the Florida Keys to be murder. Cute guys, awesome boats, endangered species, gun-toting thugs...

When city girl Kenzie Ryan moves to a Florida wildlife refuge, she plunges straight into an eco-mystery. Kenzie trades New York streets for Keys pollution cleanup, and now, instead of hailing cabs, she’s tracking down a poacher of endangered Key deer.

Her new home does have some benefits—mainly Angelo, an island native, who teams up with her to nab the culprit.

But will they both survive when the killer turns from stalking deer to hunting humans?

Environmentalism leaps to the fore in this absolute page-turner by Bonnie Doerr. I love the fact that a couple of young people are trying to make a difference in the survival of an endangered species. Island Sting is a fantastic adventure with far more meaning than most.

Young Kenzie Ryan, a recent arrival in Florida, stumbles into a desperate situation and finds herself trying to rescue a wild deer.

Island Sting kicks off with a desperate effort and near drowning. Kenzie has all the reason in the world to be grateful to the good-looking (bronzed with wavy dark hair and a rock-start face!) and obviously very capable fellow who helps her – who is just a tad mysterious too.

It is not long before Kenzie stumbles into the local deer-poaching operation. Fortunately, she’s become friendly with the equally horrified guy, Angelo, who is as disgusted by the slaughter and as determined to catch the poachers as she is. Their chief issue isn’t so much the ability to work together, as agreeing on exactly who they are pursuing.

Many creatures other than the tiny Key deer gain Kenzie’s interest, from the Hawksbill turtles to the terrifying turkey buzzards. Doerr presents area ecosystems in part of the plot with great clarity; her descriptions never slow the pace at all. She hammers home her eco-message rather thoroughly, but it certainly is part of Kenzie’s motivation.

The plight of the deer, the beauty and overall feeling for nature and that sense of common-sense naturalism extended by the very-likable Angelo all add to the impact of the eco-message here. Some of the beauty of nature contrasts sharply with some of the less-civilized aspects of life in The Keys.

The overall sense of life in and around the local wildlife refuge is something of an exotic locale- far different from the many high-school hall YA’s I have read of late. Some aspects are a bit predictable, but nonetheless Island Sting offers an absolutely gripping plot line. The great characters and constantly fast pace of action make it a page-turner. Writing style suggests it is most appropriate for younger teens, but the lively action offers broad appeal.

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