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Nature Girl Paperback – October 30, 2007

3.5 out of 5 stars 287 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like the prolific animal and insect life of the Everglades, Hiaasen's latest contains a cacophony of voices that clash with one another yet come together in the end to form an unique world. Hiaasen's novels compare favorably to the films of Robert Altman, as the author uses an ensemble approach rather than relying on one story. Adams is enthusiastically up to Hiaasen's hijinks, finding the right note for every character. Particularly good is her rendition of 12-year-old Fry, who stretches his vowels for emphasis and makes every sentence sound like a possible question. Piejack, the local looney fishmonger, and Honey, a borderline personality unable to overlook any slight, are performed with twangy gusto. And then there are the Texans, Boyd and his reluctant girlfriend, Eugenie, who bring another set of accents into the mix. In a wonderful moment on the last disk, Adams hilariously reproduces the muffled sentences of a person who has had her jaws wired shut. Adams's brisk style is perfect for Hiaasen's witty romp through the Everglades.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The trend, noticeable in Hiaasen's last few novels, to move ever so slightly away from the apocalyptic edge is evident again in his latest screwball thriller. In fact, this one feels like a Shakespearean comedy, a mix of A Midsummer's Night Dream and As You Like It in which a group of confused lovers tangle with a gang of "rude mechanicals" deep in the Forest of Arden. Except here Arden is one of the Ten Thousand Islands in the famous Florida wilderness area. And our heroine, playing a variation on Rosalind, is a slightly screwy gal named Honey Santana, who possesses the tragic flaw of demanding "more decency and consideration from her fellow humans than they demand of themselves." That's a tall order when your fellow humans include a foul-smelling fishmonger who may be the world's most deranged stalker and a ne'er-do-well telephone solicitor who has the bad luck of calling Honey at the dinner hour. Before you can say "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" Honey, the phone guy, and his comely mistress have landed in Hiaasen's bug-infested Forest of Arden along with the fishmonger/stalker, a Seminole Indian on the lam, and sundry others. There is much chaos, of course, but throughout a long night on the island, there is never a sense of horror lurking behind the high jinks. We stick around for the show, however, even without much suspense, because Hiaasen is still as funny as any thriller writer alive, and because, even at his goofiest, his characters are never mere jokes with legs. There's always something human there, behind the laughter or beyond the horror, and this time that something is almost sweet. "Such sweet thunder," one might call it. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446581755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (287 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #560,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the funniest mystery writers today is Carl Hiaason. In his latest, Nature Girl, he provides us with his usual fare--a hilariously funny story but with a message. While not as powerful as some of his previous work, Nature Girl is still an entertaining book.

Nature Girl is Honey Santana, a female version of Twilly Spreey (who Hiaason featured in Sick Puppy). Santana is divorced, raising a precocious 12 year old son Fry, and apparently suffers from bi-polar disorder. Santana's husband, Skinner, still loves his former wife and tries to run interference for her. She is known to do outrageous things "trying to demand more decency and consideration from her fellow human beings." When a hapless telephone solicitor, Boyd Shreave, interrupts her dinner time with her son and then calls her a rude name, Santana hatches a plot to teach Shreave some civility.

Santana lures Boyd and his girlfriend to the Florida wilderness and Ten Thousand Islands. Little does she know that the cast of characters that will encounter on Dismal Key. They include Sammy Tigertail (a Seminole Indian trying to hide out from the law and who hears the voices of a dead man), Gillian LaCroix (a college co-ed who wants to be taken hostage by Tigertail), Eugenie Fonda (Shreave's reluctant girlfriend), Theordore Dealey (a PI who has been hired by Shreave's wife to get incriminating photos), and Louis Piejack (an obnoxious sexual predator stalking Santana). As Dealey observes, "I wish I hadn't taken this god-damned case--I've never run up against so many card-carrying fruitballs in all my life." It's a cast that only Hiaason could produce.

But through the comic scenes, there is much to be serious about in Nature Girl. Hiaasen is anti-development, anti-tourist and pro-environment.
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Format: Hardcover
Hiaasen is absolutely a fabulous author!! His novel brings together a cast of eclectic and "border-line" personalities into the swamps and keys of Florida with an undertone of environmental responsibility. An "off-her-meds" woman decides to teach a lesson to a telemarketer and his mistress by luring them into a lesson teaching get-away. Her ex-husband is trying to keep an eye on her, as is her 12 year old son. They end up crossing paths with a half-white half-Seminole young man who is hiding from the law due to the death of his first client and his voluntary hostage, a young co-ed looking for adventure and possible romance.
This tale is entertaining and intelligent as always in Hiaasen's approach to his anti-development message. Hiaasen delivers his message in an entertaining intricate story. This is not his best novel but when you are talking Hiaasen they are all good, this is just a little less great than his others.
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Format: Hardcover
Nobody makes playing with words so much fun as Hiaasen does. He's got the most bizarre imagination. The cast of characters is crazy, the stories, as usual, get all interconnected, and the result is a fun and satisfying ride.

I found this book to be less philosophical and deep than some of his others. There wasn't an environmental "bad guy" out to destroy habitats to build a cheap housing development, though there definitely were a few bad guys who certainly didn't appreciate their surroundings. It was a lot more fun and quirky, and less of a morality tale.

Definitely a must-read for fans of Hiaasen. And if you're up for a crazy ride that's part mystery, part satire, and pure comedy, give it a whirl. I actually bought Brideshead Revisited to reread after Hiaasen was compared to Waugh - another classic satirist worth reading.
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Format: Hardcover
As with all Hiassen books, _Nature Girl_ abounds with black humor, heartfelt anger, vivid-characters, and funny/surreal plot twists. It has, in other words, a lot of good bits. But the good bits don't add up to a good book. Neither the plot nor the characters ever fully engages.

Exhibit A is Honey Santana, our alleged protagonist. Frankly, she's very hard to like. Honey is irresponsible, unthinking, self-centered, self-righteous, and manipulative, as well as being a liar and a cheat. Yeah, she's passionate about the environment. Big deal.

Exhibit B is Boyd Shreave, our nominal antagonist. Initially, Boyd isn't much less sympathetic than Honey. Okay, he's a shlub. Okay, he's insensitive and self-centered. That doesn't make him a villain. Worse, Honey decides to unload on him before she knows anything about his character. What if Boyd had turned out to be a poor hard-working decent guy who had to go into telemarketing to support a sick family member? Would Hiassen still expect us to admire Honey?

As if to make up for these lacks, Hiaasen introduces a second antagonist *and* a second protagonist. Piejack, the secondbad guy, is a Hiassen stock character: the Sleazy Pharmacollogically-Enhanced Maimed Delusional Whacko. Unfortunately, he doesn't show up until around page 130, which is much too late. Whereas Sammy Tigertail isn't much use, protagonist-wise, since all he really wants is to be left alone.

This illustrates the other major weakness of _Nature Girl_. A strong story requires a protagonist who wants something, and who has to overcome some obstacle(s) to get it. (That's practically the definition of "plot," after all.
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