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Star Island Kindle Edition
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Cherry Pye is getting ready to release a comeback album, her second. And her career hangs on this album and the related tour doing very, very well. The problem with that is that Cherry has gone the way of too many teen celebrities. She’s been a pop star since she was fourteen, and at twenty-two has only increased the partying. In fact, it’s gotten so bad that her family has hired a double to cover for when Cherry is too strung out on drugs to appear in public. Ann DeLusia. fools people from a distance, and that’s all the family cares about.
However, things are about to go off the rails. Without much time before the tour starts, Cherry is heading to rehab and Ann is about to be kidnapped. As things spin out of control, we meet a slightly deranged paparazzo who thinks that Cherry is his meal ticket, a former governor of Florida who left office and vanished decades ago, and a bodyguard with a very unusual prosthetic to name but a few of the oddball characters in this novel. Where will it all lead?
Carl Hiaasen’s books are often lumped into crime fiction, and I can see that since several crimes do occur over the pages of the book. However, this isn’t mystery in the truest sense of the word. Instead, I would classify it as over the top comedy.
If you haven’t picked up on it from my description, these characters are definitely out there. About the only one who seemed normal was Ann. Trust me, you don’t know anyone like this group. (And if you do, you have my deepest sympathies.)
But that’s where the book failed. Ann was the only character I truly liked in the bunch. The rest? If there had been a big shootout and they’d all died, I probably would have cheered. Many of them are people I’d attempt to avoid in real life, and spending time with them fictionally wasn’t any more pleasant. It didn’t help that these characters were swearing so often I was actually cringing at times. It lost all effectiveness very early on in the book and just kept right on going.
Obviously, since I was finding the characters disgusting, I missed the humor. Oh, I get that we were supposed to find all of their antics funny. They weren’t at all funny. I laughed a couple of times, but not nearly as often as I was supposed to laugh.
And maybe that’s because we are supposed to be laughing at characters self-destructing. Sorry, I don’t find that funny.
Despite not liking the characters, I did get caught up in the plot enough to want to know how it ended. The point of view shifts to many of the characters at various times, which gives us a very clear picture of everything happening, a technique I always enjoy.
Obviously, I’m not in the market that Carl Hiaasen aims for. I’d been curious for enough years that I’m glad I enjoyed Star Island, but I won’t be picking up any more of his books in the future.
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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