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50 of 51 people found the following review helpful
I picked up Hiassen's "Sick Puppy" at random a couple years back, and then rushed right out and grabbed this one. Nitrous oxide has nothing on these two elevators. I haven't laughed so hard, so continuously, since P.G. Wodehouse ushered me into the presence of the immortal Jeeves thirty years ago.
Hiassen's work seems to divide neatly into the early stuff, up through Skin Tight, which inhabits the same danger-ridden, darkly comic territory as Elmore Leonard, with similarly razor-edged dialogue; and the later stuff, which forms a genre of its own, savagely satirical farces that cast credibility and all sense of human decency and restraint to the winds in order to skewer every form of foible and malefaction. I love them both, but prefer the latter, to which "Native Tongue" squarely belongs. Here the targets range from Sea World to Disney to phone sex purveyors and their clients to fuzzy animal lovers to bodybuilders to birdwatchers. With his usual heaping helpings of lawyers, developers, politicians, and like members of the lower criminal orders. Not least among them, tied like Pauline to the railroad tracks of imminent extinction, those adorable blue-tongued mango voles. And you won't want to miss a single savory chunk of kabob on the master's shish.
I notice that the reviewers all seem to like best the first Hiassen they happened to read, and I'm no exception. This one, "Sick Puppy", and his first entry , "Tourist Season", by me are the champs. But I suspect if you were to ask Carl for his favorite, he'd direct you straight here to his Cage au Voles, because this is the one where he got to lampoon the South Florida theme park - an excrescence so dear to his heart that he made it the subject of "Team Rodent", his only nonfiction volume to date.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on September 28, 1997
Although I am that rare creature who was born and bred in Florida, you don't have to be a native Floridian to be taken over by Carl Hiaasen's NATIVE TONGUE.
The characters are just too weird to be real and yet, when you think about it, you know you've met people like them, just not quite as overt about it. From the eco-hippie ex-governor of Florida to the guy who meets his dimise in a most unusual aquatic encounter, they will grab you by the throat and won't let go till the last page has been turned.
As for the plot, well, it's got more twists and turns than a sailor's knot and a lot more laughs too.
The really neat trick that Hiaasen pulls on you is that his fiction gives you the sad truth in a way that keeps you from crying. This has to be the funniest book I've ever read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2005
Native Tongue is an enjoyable book which translates well to riding a train, something I do every day, an hour each way. The story is crafted well enough to keep you interested, the characters are colorful, the underlying message is a decent one, and the book as a whole stands up well as I look back on it. Having said that, there's something in the narrative which makes you wonder about the author, if he's really a homicidal maniac waiting for you to stumble into his back yard.

That statement might sound a bit off-the-wall. I suppose I should admit to having read a magazine article about him recently. The book moves from colorful, with a hint of darkness, to a little edgy for the wrong reasons after you read more about the guy. Still, that shouldn't (and doesn't) take away from the book, which is a good way to pass the time on the train ride into the city.

The story is about man's encroachment on the various Florida lands that should be reserved for wildlife as opposed to, say, condos and parking lots. To be sure, this is an ever-growing problem which looms on society's horizon, only getting bigger by the day. In typical American fashion, the author takes this stand only *after* establishing his own residence in the state. "Do as I say, not as a do," has never been more prevalent.

But the book isn't terribly serious. It's a whimsical fiction story which is easy to chew through at a good pace. Hiaasen is a good writer, and keeps the narrative moving well through the book. A bit peculiar in spots, the story nevertheless runs cohesively from start to finish, pausing occasionally to let you laugh at yet another silly kink in the story's chain.

All in all, a good book that's worth the read. Will definitely buy more of this author's work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 23, 1998
This was my first Hiaasen book, and it was so funny and thought provoking that I rushed to read his others. None have measured up to Native Tongue. Native Tongue & Catch-22 are the only books I've ever read that were so riotiously funny that I had to lay the book down because tears were running down my face. His characters are perfect, I've met people like some of them. I liked it so much that I've bought it as presents for my friends and family. My brother loved it and wanted to read more Hiaasen.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Carl Hiaasen has a delightfully warped mind. "Thank God," his devoted readers will say. Like his others, this book is set in a very bizarre country known as South Florida. And all of his baddie characters are intent on exploiting the environment or scamming tourists. Native Tongue begins with a family vacation being `disrupted' when a rat - uh, no, a rare weirdo vole - is tossed into their rental car. A convertible: perfect for rat-tossing. Insane and inane but dedicated environmentalists are pitted against the usual bad guys: real estate developers and environment rapists.
Four stars.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2001
Native Tongue is a bit too preachy and a bit too boring for my tastes. I'm an armchair Hiaasen fan--he's a good writer, one of the better ones, but what seems fresh in Skin Tight and Double Whammy becomes recycled and dull here. Even characters are recycled, and not in a sequel-friendly way. And, of course, we can't have a true Hiaasen classic without a lot of heavy-handed anti-developer strains throughout. Still, the book is enjoyable and the characters descriptive, but the whole thing should be taken in a quick-read fashion--think of it as literary junk food.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I appreciate the way this author takes a problem that's in the daily news and weaves it into a story in such an awesome fashion. The easy-to-read style of the story may deceive some readers into thinking it was an easty "write," too. But it's obvious by the expert choice of words, characters, and plot twists that Carl Hiaasen knows his craft.

My hat's off to this fine author who weaves an uncanny story with all the elements that make for a great read: humor, excitement, realistic problems, likable kids, a happy ending ... and more!

Some say Hiaasen is a bit eccentric, but that's okay, some of our finest authors are that too. I'm a writer, too, and I've been called worse things.

Definitely worth the money!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2002
For those who love DisneyWorld, Epcot and the other Florida 'kingdoms' I must warn you that Carl Hiaasen, the native Floridian who hates just about everything worth hating, tears apart the organisers and operators of these eco-unfriendly institutions with 'Native Tongue'. Fans of Carl Hiaasen will be pleased to know that some of his favorite characters from his other books, include the unforgettable Skink, live on in this book. However for this Hiaasen fan I found 'Native Tongue' to be surprisingly flat.
Hiaasen's books normally contain a complicated and outrageous plot, bizarre characters and great one-liners. However in 'Native Tongue' we have a plot centered on a fictious south Florida theme park where renegade environmentalists try to overthrow its crooked owner. Complicated? No. Outrageous? Marginally. Bizarre characters abound, but Hiaasen has forgetten to give them the one-liners which so enliven his other works.
Bottom line: a passably enjoyable read but Hiaasen fans will be somewhat disappointed. Hiaasen neophytes should start with 'Skin Tight' instead.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 26, 1998
This is my first Hiaasen novel, and I read it in two days during the approach of Hurricane Bonnie. I just couldn't put it down! The whole thing is so unrealistic, that you can't help but believe that everything in the entire book is true. This world is just that wacky! And it has something for everyone... Mystery, murder, comedy, sex, passion and a cause. I can't wait to receive my next Hiaasen novel!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 5, 2000
This book is HANDS DOWN, one of the funniest pieces of literature ever.
Some reviews have ripped on Native Tongue's almost cartoony characters and too wild plot. But this book is as brilliant as Stanley Kubrik's Dr. Strangelove: as biting in it's subject matter and as wild in character and story.
This is the best.
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