Thursday, December 23, 2010

Star Island

Star Island by Carl Hiaasen

In Star Island Hiaasen takes aim at the absurdity of today's pop culture. Cherry Pye was fifteen years old when she was transformed into a pop star by a producer at Jailbait Records. Now, at 22, her recording career is barely afloat. Her appetite for drugs, alcohol, and rock and roll drummers has forced those closest to her to hire Ann DeLusia, who resembles Cherry in every way except for the level head on her shoulders.

Ann's job is to make public appearances disguised as Cherry Pye during the lip-sincer's frequent stints in rehab. Ann is an aspiring actress who grudgingly accepts the job of Cherry's body double because the pay is good. But when she's kidnapped one night by an inept paparazzo who thinks Cherry Pye is going to be his golden ticket to fame, she decides that if she ever regains her freedom, the time might be right for a career change.

True to form, Hiaasen adds an ensemble of characters to the story that provide an extra level of ridiculousness. There are Cherry's parisitic parents, who's only concern is that their golden goose will stop laying eggs. There's Chemo, a hitman recently released from prison hired by Cherry's producer as her bodyguard. Chemo lost part of his arm during a barracuda attack years ago and decided on a custom-built Weed Whacker for a prosthesis instead of a hook or a claw because he figured it would come in more "handy" (sorry). There's also Skink, the ex-Governor of Florida, who left public office years ago in order to live in the swamp among the alligators, dining on roadkill, and sabotaging developers' ongoing efforts to ruin his state. This time Skink's sights are set on Jackie Sebago, a crooked developer who's first interaction with Skink results a trip to the emergency room to have a sea urchin removed from his more sensitive nether region.

I'd rate Star Island as an average offering from Carl Hiaasen, but with the asterisk that average for Hiaasen is better than most books out there.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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