Kenzie didn't expect her first summer in the Florida Keys to be murder. Or cute guys, awesome boats, endangered species, and 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? Island Sting includes notes on the endangered Florida Key Deer and the National Key Deer Refuge. YA (ages 9-12)
Island Sting gets the action going right away with NY City transplant, Kenzie, diving into the canal to save a dog. A cute boy named Angelo comes to their rescue fishing them out. Kenzie finds out what she really jumped in after wasn’t a dog, but an endangered Key deer.
So begins Kenzie’s transformation from city slicker to amateur sleuth and budding environmentalist. Key Deer having been turning up dead around the island and Angelo believes that the deer he and Kenzie saved (now named Molly) was chased into the canal by a dog owned by a local vagrant named Jigs. He also believes that Jigs is trapping and killing the tiny deer in Big Pine Key.
They begin investigating but after a chance encounter with Jigs and his dog Robin, Kenzie is sure he isn’t the poacher.
The story has a nice narrative flow and juggles many issues impacting teens today. Doerr manages to tackle poaching, pollution, divorce, making new friends, and a touch of romance in a way that doesn’t come off as preachy or heavy handed. I also really liked the way she handled the character of Jigs. Because he is poor and eccentric people make assumptions about him, but Kenizie goes with her gut feelings and forms a friendship with him, showing how we shouldn’t judge people based on appearances.
One thing that I wasn't sure of was how old Kenzie was. What I mean by that is, at times she seemed about 10-12yrs old in her mannerisms and wording and at other times she was intelligent, independent and feeling all the emotions of a normal 16 year old hormonal teenager. I couldn’t quite get a handle on her age, but she is likeable.
I think this is a good book and I believe it’s one that parents could (and should) read with their kids. It would be a great starting point to discuss State Parks, the environment and how to get involved in the community more. Parents will also appreciate that this book is quite tame compared to a lot of the YA books that are out there now. Nothing supernatural, just a good mystery about real issues dealt with by real people.
Loved: Touched on a lot of issues with a light touch. Didn’t feel heavy handed.
Nitpick: I wish there was a little more about Kenzie's past life in NY to see how far she's come.
Rating: 3 out of 4 - for me. I think this book is aimed at and would appeal more to a younger audience and to parents.
Second Opinion: A friends 10 year old daughter gave it a 3.5 star review and liked the environmental theme. She was a little upset by the Key Deer deaths. It also made her want to learn about the Manatees when she visits FL.
Authors's website: Bonnie Doerr
Buy: Island Sting
Island Sting is a book from the Class Of 2k10. Visit their site HERE to find out more about the debut YA authors coming up!