“Star Island” by Carl Hiaasen – disappointingly average

book_starisland_jpg_4c8d49df05I never thought I would give a Carl Hiaasen book only three stars but sadly, that’s the most that “Star Island” deserves. This is a competent comedy written by a man who is normally a comic genius.

All Hiaasen’s usual characters are here, “Skink” the one-eyed ex-governor turned crazy eco-warrior. “Chemo” the scary killer with the peeled face and the bitten off hand from “Skinny Dip”. There is the usual chaotic larger-than-life plot revolving around greedy, grasping people who are so amoral they have little or no understanding of what they have become and there are the few characters whose humanity, independence and refusal to give up makes them shine in the human-swamp that surrounds them.

But the story lacks passion. Hiaasen seems to be going through the motions. Skink, for once, seems lost and not entirely sure of why he’s there. Dear God, he even ends up in a pin-striped suit. Chemo loses his menace and even seems to develop a conscience.

The evil that the bad people do is largely to themselves and is hard to get excited about.

The book is redeemed by the two main female characters, Cherry Pie, the young self-abusing pop-star and her body-double, spunky actress, Anne.

These are the women that Hiaasen seems to fall in love with in the book and that love drives everything else. He does a wonderful job of showing Cherry as more than an air-head. My heart went out to her because she wants to be called “Cherish” because it sounds cool but I couldn’t help seeing the pathos of this name for someone who has never been cherished.

Anne is brave and funny and honest and gets all the best lines. What’s not to love?

Except perhaps that she treats the governor as an accessory, a plot device in the drama of her life, rather than a person.

Perhaps this is what makes her the perfect actress.

The book is, of course, well written; it made me laugh. It just wasn’t as good a “Skinny Dip” or “Nature Girl”.

Perhaps I’m missing the point. Perhaps what Hiaasen wanted to show was that the paperazzi-ridden pop world is so fake it kills all real passion but I don’t think so.


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