The first of my books off the Actual Shelf–since discovering The Vampire Diaries and the entire works of Sherrilyn Kenyon, the library has seen me go a little nuts. But I realized I was neglecting this blog, and I needed to get on with The Shelf.
I’d started Star Island a few years ago, but it too was a casualty of The Great Grad School Falling-Out. Not due to anything other than being burnt out on reading–I adore Carl Hiaasen as a writer, even if he does only have two general plotlines he adheres to.
Even with that, the devil is in the details–and the devil’s also a gone-to-nature angel named Skink. Skink is everyone’s favourite, and thusly one of the few recurring characters in Hiaasen’s seedy, humid, hot-as-hell South Florida. Hiaasen’s love for our shared home state is clearly obvious, even if he gets a few details cockamamie (it does not take six hours to get from Tallahassee to Orlando unless you spent over an hour in the I-75 rest stops). And of course, everyone in his universe is violent, swears a blue streak, is usually on several kinds of drugs, and tends to have massive wads of cash to blow here and there. This tends to flabbergast and confuse the protagonist, who is usually the wholesome type who totally does not belong in the glittery, alligator-infested universe into which they’ve been thrust, typically against their will. I told you Hiaasen had a formula and two plotlines, didn’t I?
Star Island’s wholesome protag is Ann DeLusia, the stunt/body double of a troubled pop starlet, Cherry Pye, who’s been a pro since she was fourteen (no, Hiaasen doesn’t cleverly disguise headlines from when he’s writing!) and is addicted to all kinds of everything while her obsessive mother keeps the whole franchise rolling with savvy PR and the help of Ann. Ann is the one publicly sent in the ambulance while her famous doppelganger is smuggled out privately. Ann shows up to celebrity parties when Cherry is puking half a neighbourhood pharmacy into a posh hotel toilet and can’t make it herself. Thanks to an obsessed paparazzo, Ann finds herself in quite a bit of danger–and, of course, it’s everyone’s favourite half-sane former governor, Skink, who comes up with a clever plan to save her. Ann has the most clever plan of all in the end, however. But you’ll have to read to find out.
Hiaasen is formulaic, but that’s only discernible once you’ve become an avid reader of his for-adults fiction (the children’s fiction is very different and equally wonderful). As I said earlier, though, the devil is in the details, and even if you might know generally what will happen in the end, how it happens is what keeps you flipping the pages, as is true of all Hiaasen’s books.
Simply, Star Island is a solid addition to your Hiaasen collection, or a nice starter if you’re just diving in. I really can’t say anything bad about it–he didn’t phone it in, this has all the hallmarks of his efforts. Same story, different players–but I’ll keep buying them as long as he sells them!