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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Underachieving nice guy Seth Weinstein is marrying Tina, a gorgeous high-powered lawyer in just a couple of days in a lavish wedding with all the trappings necessary to "storm the beachhead of holy matrimony." While her job is to make sure the whole affair is green; and make sure various assistants don't cross paths accidentally or various chemicals may be thrown, his job is to make sure his fly is zipped and show up at the altar on time; unfortunately, there wouldn't be much of a plot in Dave Barry's "Insane City" if he managed this without incident.

The plot wouldn't make much sense if I tried to describe it, but the novel has all the familar details you would expect from a Barry novel set in Miami: guys with guns, both licensed and otherwise; vehicles chases both on land and asea; exotic animals who have escaped their keepers with an agenda all their own; clueless newscasters; grumpy law officials who just want to retire early; and people of all ethnic and economic backgrounds bonding in wacky ways, some involving illegal substances. The cast includes Seth's best friends, the "Groom Posse," Tina's uptight billionaire parents and younger pothead sister; a horny New Age guru; Seth's velour-tracksuited parents who bring some delicious brownies to the rehearsal dinner (purely for medicinal reasons); an amorous orangutan named Trevor; a stripper with a heart of gold and her oversized pimp; plus a Haitian mother with two young kids who just want to make it to America safely. On the way to helping the Haitians, Seth will have to do some growing up and make some decisions for the first time, about what kind of adult he wants to be.

Some parts are decidedly more hilarious than others, but this is generally amusing read. The Haitian subplot, when alternated with the airport high jinks, is a little disconcerting, but once the two collide, you wind up rooting for most of the characters. The book contains the occasional curse word, the use of illegal recreational substances, some graphic descriptions of X-rated movies, and the occasional passing of gas, both animal and human. You have been warned.
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on January 30, 2013
My first impression is that this reads more like a movie instead of a book, given the way that the dialog is written and the scenes described. In fact, this would probably make a great summer movie for people who enjoy films such as Bridesmaids and The Hangover. There are so many wacky things taking place throughout the book and the plot moves constantly. Throughout the book Dave put his characters in some hilarious, not to mention embarrassing, situations.

While some of the general plot is predictable, most of the specific (and often bizarre) situations are not and the book is full of one liners that will make you laugh out loud. While this isn't great literature or a book with thought provoking insights, it continues to do what Dave Barry does best: makes you laugh.

This would be a great book to take to the beach or on vacation or anywhere you want to relax and have a good laugh.
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VINE VOICEon January 26, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Insane City is what you get if you take "The Hangover" and try to clean it up for a mostly PG-13 audience. But, it's still a fast funny read and worth the time. While I didn't find it quite as funny as Barry's "The Lunatics" which could cause you to shoot something out your nose if not careful, Barry's still 5-star funny even when it's not original.
So the plot is your basic bachelor party screw-up. Seth is our groom, preparing to marry Tina, whose father Mike is a billionaire and surprise - Seth is poor and hated by Mike. Seth's insistence on "no strippers" for the bachelor party isn't heeded by his buddies and despite his best attempt to stay out of trouble, Seth ends up drunk at a South Beach "hot bod" contest, loses some valuable wedding accessories, helps protect a family of illegal immigrants, befriends a "hot bod" contestant, her snake-handling buddy, a frighteningly-large stripper and her even larger protective friend... And that's when things really get crazy. Mix in an orangutan, pirates, medicinal brownies, and you can just see how much fun Tina's dream-million-dollar wedding (and then some) is going to be.
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VINE VOICEon February 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a Dave Barry fan from way back, I was excited to read this novel. I was laughing almost from the very first page. Truthfully, it's difficult if not impossible to maintain that level of hilarity for 300+ pages. Happily there is a simple message contained in this story which goes a long way to redeem the seemingly endless parade of misadventures that Seth and his friends get themselves into.

At times Insane City reminded me of a Stephanie Plum story: both are reliant on a specific city and its denizens to create ambiance; both pile on the mishaps so that the reader eventually throws up his/her hands, suspends disbelief and just elects to go along for the ride (or puts the book down in disgust). Insane City is a wilder ride than a Stephanie Plum book. I tend to get anxious while reading stories or watching movies that consist of one calamity after another (Hangover, anyone? Bridesmaids?) even though I know it will all work out in the end. I was definitely relieved when Insane City was over, and also a little surprised that the book actually had a point.

Dave Barry has something to say about: having too much or not enough money; the nature of love; good guys and bad guys. It is all wrapped up in a crazy plot set in a crazy place, and it works. The ending is actually really satisfying. Dave Barry is more than a satire columnist. He is a novelist. He is a craftsman. It takes skill to juggle all those ridiculous plot points and to make the reader care about one or more of the characters. I am impressed. I was prepared to give this book 4 stars, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Dave Barry has accomplished something pretty extraordinary. This is a 5-star effort.
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on July 12, 2013
Dave Barry's characters in Insane City act stupidly. The first 20 pages it's funny, then it just gets insulting. The twists and turns that make his humorous essays so fun depend on a first person perspective. His novel is, as convention dictates, 3rd person. It's a different form and his weakness at it is most painfully obvious in character development. Everyone in the story is a stereotype - harried and confused bridegroom, stripper with a heart of gold, starving Haitian mother, upper crusty bridezilla, moronic drunk attaboy buddies.

And the plotline appears to have been directly lifted from the overlay of "The Hangover" and all Carl Hiassen books - including a woman arriving in South Florida on a sinking boat/marijuana bale. It's like he knows the characters aren't holding anyone's interest so he'll roll the dice on someone else's plot choice and randomly 'borrow' silly twists to spice things up. But it's clunky and not credible. And kind of plagiaristic.

If this novel had been done by an unknown writer I wouldn't be so hard on it. Barry has not only his reputation to live up to but true talents as well.
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on March 27, 2013
At the outset I will confess that I didn't get even half-way through the book, that I'm 68 and that I'm a consistent finalist for Curmudgeon of the Year. That said, I found the characters and situations so unpleasant, stupid, dishonest and utterly without any redeeming value that I had absolutely no interest in following them any further in their tawdry lives. Dickens and Twain could make mean and dishonest people interesting. Jane Austen could make hypocrits absolutely fascinating. Dave Barry can't, at least in this book.
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on August 26, 2013
Loved, loved, loved reading Dave Barry in my newspaper back in his syndicated days. The story of his Colonoscopy was hysterical. I also read his last novel, can't recall the title and it was just ok. They also made an ok movie from it.

This book is just silly. I guess that alone would be appreciated by some. I gave up after 4 or 5 chapters as I got tired of the method of piling one ridiculous event on another. It seems that he is just attempting to replicate the style of one of my ATFs, Carl Hiassen. For me, it just doesn't work. The same goes for Lunatics, a book he co-wrote with Alan Zweibel. Just too silly to read the entire book.

I wish he would return to writing columns for the newspaper. I have never read anything as funny in the paper since he quit that.
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VINE VOICEon February 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I think Dave Barry is a fantastic writer. I used to love reading his columns and when I read "Dave Barry is not making this up", I laughed until I cried. Recently, my son has started reading the books Barry is writing for the younger set and "Science Fair" is one of his all-time favorite books.

But "Insane City" was disappointing. Despite all the cover blurbs being true - like "One of the funniest writers alive"...this book too often crosses the line between absurd and ludicrous. Barry does improbably and absurd incredibly well. But ludicrous is just kind of boring. And almost from the start, this book was just too over the top for me.

I still count Barry as one of this era's greatest writers - but I think my next foray into his work will be another book based (however loosely) on the absurdity of real life.
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on February 21, 2013
Barry channels Carl Hiaasen in this 'Hangover' style story set in Miami. Seth is marrying Tina - Seth is poor, Tina is obscenely rich. When Seth and his groom posse head to South Beach for the wedding-of-the-social-set-century things do not go well. Hot bod contests, too much alcohol, pythons, large strippers and their bodyguards, tricked out Escalades and Haitians all combine to derail the ceremony. Add in one socially elite family and one set of parents that can barely hear and the possibilities that all will not go well are increased. Barry was recommended to me as 'laugh out loud' funny - didn't find that here, but the book was a fast read and enjoyable. Reading it won't expand your mind but it's a worthwhile summer read.
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on June 21, 2015
Barry Dave has made a fortune making snide remarks about just about everything. I love his easy and friendly sense of humor. "Insane City" is one of handful of the million or so books that Barry Dave has written which is fiction. On one hand, it's good that Barry Dave is expanding into new modes of expression. On the other hand, he's not good at it.

This is a pointless book. The protagonist Seth is about to marry the woman of his dreams, and the woman he shouldn't marry. It takes a stripper, a family of Haitian refugees, a snake charmer, and an ape to convince him to come to his senses. It's an interesting premise, but the characters are so lame and the writing is so hackneyed it's difficult to actually get interested.
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