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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine satire... eerily accurate
There's not much to like about most of the characters in Star Island, in which Hiaasen - with his usual wicked flourish - lampoons the world of celebrity and big business in Florida. An unwashed fatso paparazzi photographer, a disgraced former Pulitzer winner (who faked his prize winning pictures), becomes obsessed with Cherry Pye, a talentless chart-topping pop singer...
Published on 1 Oct. 2011 by Tom Doyle

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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Where Near Hiassen's Best
Star Island marks Carl Hiaasen's return to adult fiction after a non-fiction efforts such as Fairway To Hell and young adult offerings like Scat. Unfortunately this overdue return to the genre that made his name as an author isn't one of his best.

Whilst he skewers his targets, from paparazzo photographers to manufactured pop to the media's obession with...
Published on 31 Mar. 2011 by C. Green


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sunshine satire... eerily accurate, 1 Oct. 2011
This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
There's not much to like about most of the characters in Star Island, in which Hiaasen - with his usual wicked flourish - lampoons the world of celebrity and big business in Florida. An unwashed fatso paparazzi photographer, a disgraced former Pulitzer winner (who faked his prize winning pictures), becomes obsessed with Cherry Pye, a talentless chart-topping pop singer with a penchant for pills and sleeping with bodyguards to get her way. As he seeks his big picture, his world begins to unravel as editors discover that he's been selling shots of Cherry's body-double, Ann, the only 'normal' figure in the book, who is kidnapped by him in order to act as a ransom to get to Cherry. Meanwhile, a former governor of Florida, who wears hair braids weaved with old shotgun cartridges and who has gone feral living in a crocodile-infested swamp, decides to take justice into his own hands -- reminiscent of many of Hiaasen's other comic crime novels. He finds himself coming up against a mad bodyguard with one arm that consists of a mechanic strimmer machine... all hell, as you might expect, is set loose. This book is a wonderful vignette that pokes a sharp stick into the side of pop and media culture. There are laugh out loud lines, and there are moments when you can't help thinking that the text is inspired by the life of the likes of Amy Winehouse: there's an eerie fascination with Cherry Pye, as Winehouse died after this book came to publication. When I picked up Star Island, I thought it could be 'more of the same' from Hiaasen, but the subject matter provides a fresh area to prod, with lots of great stuff on the "preening grotesques and needy narcissists" of Miami's South Beach.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Sea Urchins, 18 Feb. 2011
By 
M. D. Ripley "Mike Ripley" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
For over twenty years, Carl Hiaasen has used satire and very black humour to savage the property-developers and corrupt politicians who have desecrated the natural beauty of his native Florida. With "Star Island", he still has those targets in his sights, but he broadens his field of fire to include paparrazzi photographers, talentless pop star princesses, showbiz mothers, sleazy promoters, tattooists and the sort of woman who insists on taking a small dog with her whenever she travels.
The rolling plot is a wonderfully silly series of bungled kidnappings, bungled attempts at rehab, bungling bodyguards trying to keep order and an eerie pair of public relations divas (twins straight out of "Children of the Damned") trying to keep a lid on things. At its centre is the odious Cherry Pye, a wannabee but talentless pop star who is drawn magnetically to anything which might be a mind-altering substance, from alcohol to presecription medecines (and including laxatives and birdseed along the way).
In previous books, Hiaasen has used over-amorous dolphins, rabid pit-bulls, stuffed marlins and American crocodiles as weapons of violence. This time he reserves his sadism for a crooked property developer who discovers, very painfully, the rough end of a sea-urchin. Nature can be beautiful, but also red in tooth and claw, or at least spine.
This is vintage Hiaasen: alternatively cruel and then warmly generous, outrageously gross in parts, cutting and always very, very funny.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious, 12 Mar. 2011
By 
J. Mcrorie "John Mcrorie" (Glasgow) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
Cheryl Pie, an drug addicted actress has a 'stunt double' who is kidnapped and the book follows the story to try and rescue her back without the media finding out. I read this on holiday last year in Florida - of all places - and I hadn't read a Carl Hiaasen novel before. I laughed from start to finish and simply adored it. I immediately went out and bought another 5 Hiaasen novels and read them in days. If you are a fan, this is a must buy. If you are new to Hiaasen' then this is a fantastic start.
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Further Shenanigans in the Sunshine State, 20 Mar. 2011
By 
G. J. Oxley "Gaz" (Tyne & Wear, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
Cherry Pye is a hugely popular (and talentless) recording and touring artist. Her frequent bouts of `gastritis' (actually the result of drug and drugs-fuelled binges) require frequent periods of short-term recuperation and/or medical attention. To divert the paparazzi, and hence protect her earning potential, it's necessary for actress Ann DeLucia to act as her `stunt double' on these occasions.

Unfortunately one paparazzo - the reprehensible Claude `Bang' Abbott - kidnaps Ann for an exclusive photo shoot in the mistaken belief that she is the real thing. This action triggers a series of uproarious events, with sub-plots aplenty amid all the malarkey.

`Star Island' is full of Hiaasen's usual weirdoes, whack-jobs, damaged goons and chancers, with their madcap schemes and utterly selfish and greedy motivations. Almost everyone is out for what they can get and few have any redeeming qualities.

`Bang' Abbott, the overweight paparazzo with personal hygiene issues, is a particularly amusing character, as is the appalling `Chemo' - the huge, facially scarred individual hired as Cherry's bodyguard. He has a prosthetic arm consisting of a yard trimmer (or weed whacker) following partial limb removal by a marlin, and he wields this as an effective tool of persuasion.

Regular Hiaasen character Skink, the militant, unhinged, ecoteur (aka Clinton Tyree - a former governor of Florida) is back in his biggest ever role. Blessed with a beautiful set of gleaming teeth, a bald pate - with two ludicrous pseudo-dreads - and an unerring moral compass, he's still living off roadkill, and after encountering the lovely Ann he comes to a touching and sympathetic understanding with her. These two are also, not coincidentally, the only characters in the book with decent old-fashioned values.

The author highlights the hypocrisy of the entertainment industry and the cult of celebrity - with its reliance on pure spin in lieu of actual talent. And once again he exposes and deals with the crooked politicians and land developers who have despoiled the Florida Keys and Everglades, killing off wildlife by destroying their habitation. Through his regular newspaper columns and books, Carl Hiaasen has become the de facto environmental spokesperson for his beloved home state, and, as always, serious ecological concerns lie at the beating heart of this novel. But fear not, he's never preachy, and he wraps everything up beautifully to present us with an hilarious and entertaining package.

Hiaasen wrote the blueprint for the modern, satirical, comic crime novel and he hits his targets with the practiced eye of a seasoned sniper, never laying it on too thick, merely allowing the absurd characters and situations to make his points for him. His regular readers can therefore rest assured that it's very much business as usual here, with the author presenting his customary mix of satire and sardonic observation. It's because so much familiar ground is covered that I've not given it the full five stars. However, if you've never read him before, try reading John McCrorie's review elsewhere on this page, where he indicates that this novel turned him into an instant fan of the great man's work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Star Island, 1 May 2012
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This review is from: Star Island (Paperback)
Carl Hiaasen is back to his best with this modern morality story of a feckless, talentless pop star and the seedy members of her management group and family who are determined to milk her dwindling fame before she self-destructs entirely. Good stuff and probably uncomfortably near the truth in today's instant fame and instant oblivion pop music industry a la the reptilian Mr Cowell.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Toasted pop tart, 21 Nov. 2011
By 
Blue in Washington "Barry Ballow" (Washington, DC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
Another very funny satire by Carl Hiaasen. "Star Island" has a few loose ends here and there, but basically it's a sharply observant and hilarious poke at the emptiness of pop fame and the excesses that go with it. "Star Island" is the saga of Cherry Pye, an overproduced teenage music sensation of very limited talent who has become a meal ticket for a wide variety of relatives, hangers-on and other bottom-feeders. Cherry is headed for oblivion via a cornucopia of drugs and booze while her numerous dependents try and stave off disaster and launch a new "comeback" album and concert tour.

Author Hiassen reaches into his arsenal of wild characters to populate this fast-moving story of an inevitable personal train-wreck for the brainless Cherry Pye, but with redemption for the relatively well-meaning and morally sound. It's a formula, but Hiassen makes it work in this book and others that have trod similar plot trails. What is best about this author is his utter fearlessness in taking on popular icons and giving them no redeeming shrubbery to hide behind. In "Star Island", he includes a parallel story track that targets his primary "enemies of Florida"--developers. The most extreme and inventive punishments are reserved for one of this hated species who has taken a particularly egregious whack at a small piece of Miami wetlands.

Very entertaining read. And let's hope that Hiaasen never loses his moral outrage at the attacks on society and the environment driven by greed that afflict Florida and much of the rest of the country.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant satire, 24 April 2011
By 
Moose Papoose (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
This is Carl Hiaasen at his absolute best. Once again, the story is enhanced with larger-than-life James Bond style baddies - grotesque caricatures. The story rips along at a cracking pace and is well spliced together. The reader knows that this isn't really real life, and yet it is. Carl Hiaasen has focussed his attention on the worst aspects of modern culture and made them real. In the background are serious warnings on the raping of the environment, the decimation of wildlife to make way for real estate developments, the bizarre culture of celebrity, the shallowness of consumers buying into these modern day must haves, and the morality of life in the west. Laced with humour and clever observations (I loved the weed wacker and the guy's surgically botched face). Priceless.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The master returns..., 11 Oct. 2010
By 
bloodsimple (nottingham, uk) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
Absence makes the heart grow fonder, they say. I've missed Hiaasen; I tried other authors who purport to do a similar thing, only to find them wanting. Nice to be able to return to the master himself.

Fans of Hiaasen will not be disappointed. The governor makes a welcome return, as does the gem of Chemo, the enforcer with a weed strimmer instead of an arm. Marvellous. Also present are a feisty female lead, and a collection of gruesome and amoral idiots for you to loathe and laugh at.

Few authors combine a zippy plot with so many laughs. It's not easy - it just seems that way because Hiaasen is so good at it. He's dropping little bits into the narrative, he doesn't leave chunks of plot hanging about. His characters are grotesque, but they work. It all fits together and it all flows together.

A welcome return.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No Where Near Hiassen's Best, 31 Mar. 2011
By 
C. Green "happily low brow" (Quenington, Glos, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Kindle Edition)
Star Island marks Carl Hiaasen's return to adult fiction after a non-fiction efforts such as Fairway To Hell and young adult offerings like Scat. Unfortunately this overdue return to the genre that made his name as an author isn't one of his best.

Whilst he skewers his targets, from paparazzo photographers to manufactured pop to the media's obession with vacuous celebrity, with unerring accuracy, the subject matters feel rather dated and tired (the Britney Spears phenomena which the book rifs on having reached its apogee several years ago). Moreover the plot on which he hangs his satirical flourishes simply didn't work for me. The best Hiaasen books have plots that work like clockwork, bringing their multiple and seemingly disconnected subplots together with precision pacing to a final cathartic conclusion that ties up loose ends and provides a satisfying emotional payoff.

With Star Island however, the story seems to meander aimlessly before being loosely and unsatisfactorily closed out in the final ten pages. The fact that Hiaasen feels it necessary to tack on a lengthy 'Animal House'-style 'Where Are They Now' summary as an epilogue indicates that he really didn't know how to successfully wrap up any of the character arcs he'd set in motion within the confines of the actual narrative. Considering the book's length it feels like something of a cop-out.

The book also lacks the sort of really compelling or sympathetic characters that featured in previous Hiaasen novels. Anna DeLuisa is supposed to be the one 'good' (i.e. sensible and level headed) character in the story with whom readers can associate but doesn't have enough about her to really carry the story. I also struggled to understand the motivation for her actions during the second half of the book, which never really seemed to make much sense.

Meanwhile the rest of the characters come across as simply one-note or weird. Abbott the paparazzo is suitably slimy, immoral and dumb but isn't a terribly original or interesting a character either. Cherry Pie is simply too awful an individual to even be plausible as a fictional manufactured pop-princess, let alone a real human being. Her parents are given a little more depth but still come across as cliches, as does her scheming promoter.

Most of the rest are the usual collection of wackos that often populate Hiassen novels, but whilst they might work in small doses as minor supporting roles in Star Island two of them are thrust too much centre stage. Personally I've never understood the author's affection for Skink, who never worked for me as a character in Tourist Season or Sick Puppy and doesn't here. Sure, he's borderline crazy but not in a particularly amusing way and I've never believed in the charisma that is supposed to convince otherwise sensible people to join his madcap schemes. Equally Chemo, the one handed bodyguard who first appeared in Skin Tight, makes a return and provides the story with some palpable menace but again is too much of a freak to convince as a real human being.

I don't pick up a Hiaasen novel expecting realism or gritty drama. What I do look for however, and a key part of his appeal, is tight plotting and entertaining characterisation. Star Island lacks either of those things and as a result I'd consider it a disappointing effort from a talented author.
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3.0 out of 5 stars slightly surreal satire on celebrity culture, 6 May 2012
By 
Rob Kitchin - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Star Island (Hardcover)
Star Island is the latest comic crime caper novel from Hiassen. Like the books preceding it, the story is populated by larger than life characters acting out a slightly surreal satire on modern society. Star Island takes a swipe at today's manufactured celebrity culture and the role of the media and paparazzi. With the exception of the governor and Chemo (the bodyguard), unfortunately Hiassen's characters seem entirely plausible as does the twisted storyline. Indeed, Hiassen does a relatively good job at highlighting the vacuous nature of celebrity and the so-called entertainment industry. He writes in a confident, engaging style and there are some genuinely funny moments in the story. As usual, Florida shines through, providing a good sense of place. The plot, for the most part, works well, though the story feels at times a little bit all-surface and not enough depth. And the governor and Chemo work to de-rail the story a little because even though the story is full of odd-characters, they at least seemed as if they belonged (that the governor is a long running character in the Hiassen novels is neither here nor there for me). Nevertheless, for Hiassen fans, of which I am one, this addition to the series will mostly hit the mark.
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Star Island
Star Island by Carl Hiaasen (Paperback - 2 Feb. 2012)
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