Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review of Star Island by Carl Hiassen (Sphere, 2010)

Cherry Pye is a twenty two year old out-of-control, airhead, drug-addled, lip-synching, manufactured popstar. All she wants is to party, to screw every bloke she meets, and to be adored by her management team and fans. Her first two ambitions don’t sit well with the clean-cut, role-model image demanded by society and she’s constantly getting herself into trouble, with her behaviour caught by the paparazzi. To counter this, her parents have hired an undercover stunt double, Ann DeLusia, who covers for Cherry when she messes up, plus a pair of devious PR sisters, and a slightly psychotic bodyguard who is immune to her sexual charms and has a weed wacker in place of an amputated arm. Bang Abbott, a paprazzo with very little morals, is obsessed with Cherry Pye and her slow disintegration. If he can catch her death on film he knows he’ll make a fortune. Pushed to desperate measures, Abbott kidnaps the star to find he’s snatched the body double. Cherry’s management can’t afford for the existence of the double to become public and Abbott sees an opportunity to leverage a day with the young star. Nobody, however, counts on DeLusia being friends with a former governor of Florida who has forsaken materialism, lives on the margins of society, and has a righteous sense of justice.

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.

1 comment:

Jethro said...

Great review, I really enjoyed it. I normally get my reading list from The Book Report , which is a radio show you can listen to online if you do not live in the broadcast area, go give it a try -