Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Review: "Star Island" by Carl Hiaasen

Cherry Pye (formerly known as Cheryl Bunterman) is a disaster-bound Hollywood starlet (think Britney or Lindsay) whose only concerns are where she's going to get her next drug fix, where the vodka is hidden, or whether or not her current bodyguard will sleep with her. Her mother refuses to acknowledge the fact that her daughter has serious issues because she fears that her gravy-train will stop (umm...hello Dina Lohan?), and instead blames her daughter's frequent hospital visits on her "sensitive stomach". The Bunterman's hire Ann DeLuisa, an actress who looks passably like Cherry, to attend events as Cherry, but one day it all goes horribly wrong. Ann is kidnapped by an obsessed paparazzo named Bang Abbott, who actually thinks that he's kidnapping the object of his affections.

What follows is their adventure- as Ann tries to become free, the Bunterman's try to prevent the story from hitting the tabloids, and Cherry continues to drug herself into a stupor. Their adventures are alternately laugh-out-loud funny and a sad reflection on the behaviour of celebrities today.

This is the first novel by Carl Hiassen that I've read, and can I admit without being booed that I borrowed it from the library after reading a great review in People magazine? Even though Hiassen has authored several books, this is the first one that I've even heard of. I enjoyed it from beginning to end. His portrayal of Cherry Pye, spoiled, self-obsessed, and destructive, is spot- on and beyond hilarious. Sadly, I think that there's a grain of truth in there as well- too often young celebrities head down a dangerous path and are coddled on their way to the bottom. His other characters were quirky and well-developed. Chemo is a bodyguard who possesses a weed whacker for an arm, and who isn't afraid to use it. Bang Abbott is an unwashed, unscrupulous paparazzo that you can't help but feel a little sorry for. Skink is a former governor who wears shotgun shells in his hair. Janet Bunterman, Cherry's mother, was one of my favourite characters, if only because I couldn't believe half of what came out of her mouth. She was so obsessed with her daughter's continued fame (and money-making abilities) that she would make any excuse for her behaviour. Ann, Cherry's double, was the only normal one in the bunch, and that's not saying much.

Hiassen's talent certainly lies in creating both quirky and utterly bizarre characters that you root for despite yourself. His plot was tightly woven and entertaining, making Star Island a quick and thoroughly enjoyable peek at the celebrity culture that so many of us find so fascinating.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Recommended to: Fiction fans, fans of celebrity culture
Challenges: 2010 100+ Reading Challenge, New Author Challenge 2010, 2010 Support Your Local Library Challenge

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