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Star Island Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 459 customer reviews
Book 6 of 6 in the Skink Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The career of singer Cheryl Bunterman (aka Cherry Pye), who debuted with Jailbait Records at age 15, is foundering due to her lack of talent and indiscriminate appetite for drugs, booze, and sex in this outrageous, offbeat novel from Hiaasen (Nature Girl). Among those struggling to keep Cherry's career afloat are her mother, Janet Bunterman; producer Maury Lykes; and "undercover stunt double" Ann DeLusia, who will, say, mislead the press into thinking Cherry is out and about when she's really in rehab. Hiaasen has easy targets in misbehaving celebrity sightings, tabloid stalkings, and spin control experts, and he makes the most of them. Crooked real estate developer Jackie Sebago and paparazzo Bang Abbott, who plans to hitch his wagon to Cherry's star, add to the madcap fun. Mayhem follows after Bang kidnaps Ann instead of Cherry by mistake, and ex-Florida governor and eco-vigilante Clinton "Skink" Tyree, who was smitten with Ann after a chance encounter, rushes to her rescue. The torrent of pop culture barbs are bound to please Hiaasen's ardent fans. 500,000 first printing; 12-city author tour.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Bookmarks Magazine

There is precious little innocence in Carl Hiaasen's moral universe, muses the Washington Post, "only gradients of venality." Longtime admirers of Hiaasen's fiction will relish the wicked wit, fast-moving plot, and delightfully odious cast of characters in this satirical send-up of celebrity culture. However, some critics found Hiaasen's subject matter passé in the wake of the latest entertainment industry scandals, and one objected to contrived characters and plot developments. Despite their complaints, reviewers generally enjoyed Star Island, and readers will also laugh at Hiaasen's "latest celebration of the grotesques and morally ambiguous citizens of his native Florida" (San Francisco Chronicle), even if the novel doesn't rate as one of his best. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (February 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446556130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446556132
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (459 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #115,604 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his incredibly tolerant family and numerous personal demons.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online at www.miamiherald.com or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published.

For his journalism and commentary, Hiaasen has received numerous state and national honors, including the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club. His work has also appeared in many well-known magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Life, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.

In the early 1980s, Hiaasen began writing novels with his good friend and distinguished journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. Together they produced three mystery thrillers -- Powder Burn, Trap Line and Double Whammy -- which borrowed heavily from their own reporting experiences.

Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida, as Hiaasen had hoped it might. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly the only) novel about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.

Since then, Hiaasen has published nine others -- Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, The Downhill Lie and Nature Girl. Hiaasen made his children's book debut with Hoot (2002), which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller lists. For young readers he went on to write the bestselling Flush (2005) and, most recently Scat (January 2009). The film version of Hoot was released in 2006, directed by Wil Shriner and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. ("Hoot" is now available on DVD).

Hiaasen is also responsible for Team Rodent (1998), a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its creeping grip on the American entertainment culture. In 2008, Hiaasen came back to nonfiction with The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. The book chronicles his harrowing and ill-advised reacquaintance with golf after a peaceful, 32-year absence.

Together, Hiaasen's novels have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he is able to read or write. Still, he has reason to believe that all the foreign translations are brilliantly faithful to the original work. The London Observer has called him "America's finest satirical novelist," while Janet Maslin of the New York Times has compared him to Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman. Hiaasen re-reads those particular reviews no more than eight or nine times a day.

To prove that he doesn't just make up all the sick stuff in his fiction, Hiaasen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick A** and Paradise Screwed, both courageously edited by Diane Stevenson and faithfully kept in print by the University Press of Florida.

One of Hiaasen's previous novels, Strip Tease, became a major motion-picture in 1996 starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Despite what some critics said, Hiaasen continues to insist that the scene featuring Burt Reynolds slathered from his neck to his toes with Vaseline is one of the high points in modern American cinema.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The wacky and wonderful Carl Hiaasen returns to his Florida stomping grounds for his latest comic caper "Star Island." Loading the novel and his characters with the over-the-top eccentricities you might expect from such a warped mind (no offense Carl--you're my kind of guy)--Hiaasen uses his signature style to brutally satirize the notion of celebrity in an era of sleazy tabloid journalism. It's an easy target--to be sure--maybe too easy and familiar. But Hiaasen can spin a tale and "Star Island" is a repugnantly entertaining romp even if you wish Hiaasen would have set his sights a bit higher!

Cherry Pye epitomizes everything that is disturbing about modern celebrity. With a lack of talent, but backed by an ambitious team, Cherry has risen to teenage stardom despite an obliviousness to her surroundings. Keeping Cherry's image somewhat intact amidst rampant promiscuity and drug use is a full time job for an entire entourage of handlers. With self-promoting parents, a pair of publicists surgically enhanced to appear identical, a desperate record label executive, a wannabe boyfriend, a stand-in to handle social events when Cherry is incapacitated, and a new body guard with a weed whacker in place of an arm--Hiaasen has compiled enough hilariously repellant characters to fill several novels! Add a corpulent paparazzo who's practically stalking Cherry to her death and an ex-politician who has turned into a rogue environmental terrorist and "Star Island" is overflowing with local color!

I think the primary criticism that some readers might have with "Star Island" is its lack of a real heart--none of the characters proves to be an identifiable protagonist.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Typical Hiaasen fare for those familiar with his earlier work. You get your fill of satyrical South Florida situations and cartoonish characters that are worth an occasional chuckle. The narrative is fast-paced and inventive as ever and the dialogue is spot-on for the tone of the novel.
What ultimately disappointed me was its shallowness. Hiaasen throws in the usual cast of weirdos along with his pet villains, land developers, who are superfluous to the story and just exist to establish Skink in it in his most improbable of interventions.
At the end, not even the characters seem to know how to wrap up this story, so it just kind of fizzles out, and all the loose ends receive neat little one-paragraph tourniquets akin to those "what happened to..." titles in the final credits of some movies.
Cardboard characters and a muddy ending. Not his best work by far.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm a huge fan and pre-ordered this book based on my love of previous Carl Hiaasen books and what I thought was a can't miss premise. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The thing I loved about the author's previous novels was that even though the characters were bizarre - they had a depth and an underlying humanity that made them vibrant. That is completely lacking in this book. Even the 'cameo' characters from previous books seem like caricatures of themselves.

Overall, I found myself grinding through pages to get to the thrown together finale. I also thought that the epilogue was perfunctory.

Here's hoping that Mr. Hiaasen can rediscover some of the magic that made him one of my favorite authors in the past.
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Format: Hardcover
Wow. A new Hiaasen book is cause for joy in my house, but I'm shocked at how disappointing this book was.

Sure, it's got a lot of what makes a Hiaasen book a lot of fun: a parade of nuts, nit-wits, sociopaths, crooks, narcissists, corrupt officials, perverts, dedicated but pragmatic cops, clueless tourists and one plucky gal who knows the score. And we get treated to an extended appearance by one of his most beloved recurring characters, Skink, aka former Florida governor Clinton Tyree, as well as a return engagement by one of his most memorable psychos, Chemo.

But usually, his books have a character one has to believe is a stand-in for Hiaasen himself, a classic-rock-loving, anti-establishment journalist who gets caught up in all the madness that is South Florida. Well, in this one there's a "journalist" but instead of the protagonist or one of the few relatively sane supporting characters, he's a loathsome paparazzo, completely unappealing (as one would imagine most of them are, of course) and not really a good anchor for an entire story.

It says a lot when one of the most sympathetic characters is Chemo, the waffle-faced psycho with a weed-wacker for a prosthetic hand. Ann, the plucky gal, is O.K. but can't really carry the book by herself.

I think the problem may also be that Hiaasen does better when he is portraying the more obscure and mundane corners of Florida. He seems a little lost portraying the South Beach scene (because, frankly, it's not exactly news that it's full of kooks and drugged-out celebrities), and his attempt to impose Skink into that world doesn't really work.

As others have mentioned, it also fizzles out. The story just . . . stops.

Oh, well, I'm sure we'll get some better adventures from Hiaasen soon.
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