Published in 2002, Hoot was awarded the Newbery Medal of Honor and was praised for its witty, satirical voice; quirky characters; and humorous point of view. Carl Hiassen, author of many rather dark, satirical adult novels and writer of a daily column for The Miami Herald, managed to present environmental concerns, a rather serious and weighty manner, in a light-hearted and entertaining way. Reviewers agree that this book is filled with “dollups of humor,” “offbeat characters,” and “comic twists” that make it a fun read.
It is written in simple yet humorous prose but might pose some difficulties and confusions to readers as it cuts between characters quite frequently, sometimes several times within one chapter. Marketed to older kids and young adults, the book’s “intermittently protracted focus on several adults” in its perspective might also make it more difficult for young readers to stay interested. Hiassen manages to show how “grown-ups often make fools of themselves,” though, so other critics contend that although it has many adults as characters, the adults are amusing in their bumblings and mistakes. Other critics note that “you don’t have to be a young adult to enjoy it” and that anyone can appreciate the “rollicking” antics, twists, and funny characters. Despite its entertainment value, other critics note that it is not very memorable and lacked a certain level of concentrated character development that often makes novels stand out to readers. In fact, some critics are concerned that the characters were on the verge of being simply stereotypes: the classic school bully, the wimpy nerdy kid who wins in the end, the obtuse cop inadequately doing his job, and the evil corporate businessman. Even though the book received mixed reviews, it is at its heart a very touching, humorous, and positive pro-environment book with sympathetic characters.