Having read three of the nominees, I think I'll attempt to tackle them all.
Skink- No Surrender was a quick read, nothing even your motivated middle-grader couldn't handle if he or she is a fan of Hiaasen's books. This one's an adventure and a mystery, of course. But the kids are truly kid-like, something all writers who crossover from adult novels don't always figure out so well.
Then there's the reclusive ex-governor Skink with that gross fake eye.
("Skink ignored her and closed his good eye. He looked like a grizzled old iguana." Don't you love how he says so much in so few words?)
Yes, there are plenty of shots fired. And one of the lead players runs away with a faker she's met online.
Hmm. Somehow it didn't seem so scary though. Must be the humor.
Here's a good writing quote from Hiaasen:
You can do the best research and be making the strongest intellectual argument, but if readers don't get past the third paragraph you've wasted your energy and valuable ink.
True even for Young Adult fiction, wouldn't you say?
Anybody out there predicting who'll take the National Book Award this year?