Friday, August 18, 2017

Book Review: Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

Stars: 1 out of 5
Pros: I liked Ann
Cons: The rest of the book didn’t work for me
The Bottom Line:
A falling starlet
Dysfunctional characters
I just couldn’t like

Fallen Stars

As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I have three authors I rotate on audio, and if the next in one series isn’t available from either of the library systems I have access to, I’ll switch to a different author in the rotation and circle back around when the audio book is available.  I recently had the horror of not being able to snag books by any of these authors the weekend before a trip, so I spent some time looking in the library for something else to listen to.  That’s when Star Island caught my eye.  I’d been curious to try the books of Carl Hiaasen for years now.  I know many people find him hilarious, but I was concerned I wouldn’t enjoy him.  Turned out, I was right.

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.

Stephen Hoye was the narrator for this audio book.  He did a great job bringing the story to life without getting in the way.

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.

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