Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review - Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs (4/5 stars)

I got a copy of this book through the Amazon Vine program. I couldn't resist the humorous description and the fun cover. Overall it was an enjoyable read and lots of fun!

Teddy lives in FunJungle Park with his mom, who researches apes, and his dad, who is a wildlife photographer. It's kind of crazy living in a zoo/theme park but things get even crazier when the unpleasant park mascot Henry the Hippo is found belly up in his habitat. Teddy sneaks into Henry's autopsy and overhears the fact that Henry's death may not have been an accident but instead...murder. Now Teddy, with the help of the park owner's ultra-rich daughter, Summer, are trying to unravel the mystery as to why Henry, and other animals in the park, are being killed. As Teddy gets deeper into the mystery he will find that he better watch his step because who ever killed Henry is after Teddy too.

This book was an interesting and fun read. The plot moves along nicely and the mystery Teddy is trying to solve has some interesting twists to it. This book deals with some serious issues such as corporate greed and animal cruelty, but it deals with these issues in such a way that they never become too overwhelming or overly serious. I enjoyed Teddy as a character; both him and his parents have very interesting backgrounds that were interesting to learn about.

You learn a lot about how a zoo is run in this book, it is also a good introduction to what happens when individuals in a corporation get too greedy. It is a very engaging story and a page turner, very hard to put down. I also liked that Teddy had a great relationship with his parents. This would be an appropriate book for kids in the middle grade or older range, I think adults would enjoy it too. As I said the book has a great sense of humor and makes for a fun read.

The story ends well wrapping up most of the loose ends, there were a couple small issues that weren't resolved and this left me wondering if we will read any more books about Teddy and Summer. It reminded me a bit of Carl Hiassen's book Hoot, so if you liked Hoot you should get a kick out of this book too.  I did think Hoot was a bit more well done with a better mystery, a more engaging plot, an interesting lesson, and better interaction between the young adult characters.

Overall an entertaining read. A good sense of humor with a fast-paced plot and a great mystery. Should appeal to animal lovers and mystery buffs.

This book goes towards the following reading challenges:
- The Debut Author Challenge
- The Young Adult Reading Challenge
- The 100+ Book Reading Challenge

Belly Up

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