faintingviolet’s #CBR4 review #34: Star Island by Carl Hiaasen
Let’s get the hard part over with first. This is not my favorite Hiaasen, and generally it falls below most of the contemporary fiction I’ve read this cannonball. In many ways Star Island is an entirely typical Hiaasen novel: its set in South Florida, it features a storyline about real estate developers and politicians trampling pristine environments, is a morality tale about the excesses of Hollywood and South Beach, and features everyone’s favorite former governor turned hermit – Skink.
Everything is better with Skink, which is how I know that I didn’t really enjoy this book because I didn’t like half of Skink’s storyline. And the half I didn’t enjoy was the half that featured the novel’s main protagonists – Cherry Pye and Ann DeLusia. Cherry Pye (née Cheryl Bunterman) is a pop star since the tender age of fourteen—and about to attempt a comeback from her latest drug-and-alcohol disaster in the vein of every lurid tabloid story you’ve ever heard. Then there’s Ann DeLusia her undercover stunt double. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too ‘indisposed’ to go out in public, but Cherry has no idea she exists.
The plot revolves around Ann’s job of doubling Cherry and a photographer determined to get the ultimate shots of Cherry before what everyone, including her manager, is sure is going to happen. Her untimely death. But before this storyline can get underway Ann gets caught up with Skink. Skink ends up ‘rescuing’ Ann from a car crash along Card Sound Road in the Keys and becomes invested in the young actress after he uses her as part of his scheme to get back at an unscrupulous real estate developer. This ends up being good for Ann and bad for Cherry.
Hiaasen has created a character in Cherry who is by all definitions awful, and he writes about her with contempt in his authorial voice. Which is a problem; this is an antagonist to Ann but a protagonist in her own right so making her a punching bag does not in any way help the reader become more involved in the stories of her parents, management, publicists, security, or boyfriends. There is also a lot of lazy descriptions of Cherry whom he refers to constantly as the former Cheryl Bunterman. I would’ve preferred an acronym (TFCB).
I’d say to steer clear of this one. It’s too long, too convoluted and not even the comic send-ups of the characters futures in the epilogue were satisfying.