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on January 21, 2010
While NO Carl Hiaasen book could conceivably be called 'bad,' this one certainly isn't one of the better ones.

For one thing, there's a limited cast of characters here: most of the action involves three couples, with three or four supporting characters. Secondly, the geography is limited: about two-thirds of the book takes place on one island off the coast of Florida. Finally, the plot, set into motion by (of all things) an unwanted telemarketer's call, seems a little thin for the usually maniacally inventive Hiaasen. I hesitate to say so, but compared to the best of his books this one seems phoned in.

Character-wise, there's nothing new here. We have the two or three wise, tolerant, and put-upon women; the male ex with issues but a heart of gold; the precocious, likeable kid; the oddball, but wise and knowing native American; and the villains, one horrible and slimy and the other weak and slimy. Throw in the Everglades, some sex, and pokes at consumer culture, corporations, and out-of-staters, and this feels like a Hiaasen book by the numbers. The addition of a weird cult on a neighboring cay really seemed a throw-in, a kind of outdated poke at New Agers.

As I say, the book was entertaining, but unlike most Hiaasen which I devour in a few sittings, this one was definitely put-downable for me. It took me, in the end, a couple of months to read it.

Let's hope it's an aberration, not the beginning of a trend with this very funny, imaginative, and enjoyable writer.
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Murphy's Law defines the perceived perversity of the universe by observing "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong". Almost every offering scripted by Carl Hiaasen over the years is a tribute to Mr. Murphy's law and Mr. Hiaasen's ability to identify subjects for his slyly caustic commentaries on the absurdity of life in general and certain folks in particular.

With Nature Girl, Hiaasen continues with his foray into the outrageous with the creation of Honey Santana, a bi-polar ex-wife and mother who listens attentively to the voices in her head and feels compelled make the world a better place by ridding it of the scourges of society like pesky telemarketers who call at dinnertime and lewd bosses who engage in sexual harassment.

Honey's portion of this unconventional yarn is only the tip of the iceberg. Lying hidden just beneath the surface are a profusion of absurd characters that come together on one of Florida's swampy pieces of island real estate called Dismal Key. The circumstances that lead each of them to the island and the ensuing events are a bizarre concoction that I'm sure it's creator would view as a slightly unorthodox morality tale. Think of a movie combining the writing styles of Dean Koontz and Dave Barry and starring Larry, Moe and Curly and you will get some idea of Hiaasen's off-beat brand of humor. While not his best it is definitely good for a few laughs.
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on December 3, 2006
I have read most, if not all, of Hiasen's books with their outlandish plots and convoluted humor. Enjoyable and one cannot help but enjoy and laugh.

This book seems forced from page one- Honey, Eugenie, and Boyd just do not work and the location of Dismal Key says it all - this book is dismal.

I must confess, however, that I stopped after page 65 (and it was a struggle to get that far).

The dust cover lists a host of plots and questions that you would think would be fun reading - and the answer is no.

Pass on this one
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on May 12, 2007
Enjoyable story, well written, some moments of laugh out loud. Great for a summer read. The underlying comments on society, a satisfying discourse and told with a light touch.
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on February 16, 2007
Carl, Carl, Carl, you let all of your readers down with this, the weakest

novel you ever published. The characters, plot and humor are so bad it makes one wonder if you had it ghost written. Surely you wouldn't waste your time on such drivel!
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on June 29, 2007
What a terrific and unique writer Mr. Hiaasen is. I can only surmise that he is quite a character himself. Another great, very entertaining book.
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on March 15, 2007
Even at his lamest, Hiaasen is still better than most fiction writers. His characters ring uncannily true for the most part (with the exception of pubescent Fry, who simply doesn't sound like a teenager to me), and his ability to weave the most seemingly random scenes into an organic whole of the story really places him at the top among fiction writers today.

This story is equal parts hilarious and provocative; he cares deeply about his beloved Florida, and that informs his writing. And in a way, the settings of Hiaasen's books become another realistically written character. You can take the boy out of the mangroves, but you can't take the mangroves out of the boy.

If you like depictions of the outdoors with humor and a twist of noir, Hiaasen does not disappoint.
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on February 20, 2007
I have been a HUGE fan of the author's for years. I have read all of his books and passed them on to my family to read. But this book is just full of quirky characters who are determined to "out quirk" each other. The title character is a bi-polar, divorced, unemployed former fish market employee who decides to take her revenge on a snotty telemarketer by taking him kayaking in the Florida Keys while she is being stalked by her disfigured, smelly, sexually obsessed ex-employer. Their mis-adventures are interupted by a half breed Seminole who is haunted by ghosts, a horny co-ed, a loosely formed, sexually oriented religious cult and the heroine's ex-husband, who naturally, is still in love with her. One can almost hear the author asking himself, "OK. What whacky thing can they do next?" After 120 pages, I was hoping the next page would bring a hurricane and wipe them all from map. Compared to his many wonderful,funny, books which are usually filled with political and/or environmental insights this was a tremendous letdown.
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on October 6, 2010
Carl Hiaasen's books are filled with zany characters and he knows Florida like the back of his hand. HOWEVER, he did not do his research on Texas for Nature Girl. I'm only a quarter of the way through the book and he's already made 2 glaring errors regarding Texas. First we don't call any of our freeways "The" anything. In Ft. Worth, it's 820, not The 820. We're not in California (even though we are closer to it than Florida).
Second, he says that Dallas is in east Texas. Take a look at a map of Texas, Mr. Hiaasen! Dallas is smack dab in the middle of north Texas. Liz Donovan is thanked by Mr. Hiaasen for her "peerless research skills". I'm betting that she didn't even look at a map of the state!
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on January 20, 2008
Terrible! Ugly! What a waste of money!!!

I truly like all of Hiaasen's work to date but this is nothing more than a piece of flimsy fluff that I would expect from a first-time writer - Definitely not from someone with Hiaasen's writing background and previous successes. I really tried hard to give the book a fair trial but had to give it up as a pathetic attempt by an aging author to recoup some of his earlier glory - sort of like the aging actress syndrome - I was not able to finish the book and had to put it down after a couple of hundred pages. The story line is trite, the verbage banal, and the plot - what plot??? Unlike Mr. Hiaasen's series involving the Skink character, this book was grossly unentertaining and totally lacking in any redeeming value. Cost WAY TOO MUCH and very little value returned! To say I was very disappointed would be a gross understatement!
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