In the celebrity crazed culture we currently live in Carl Hiaasen’s newest novel Star Island fits right in with a world where a picture of a dead celebrity can bring millions and a photographer will do anything to get a “money shot”. Enter Cherry Pye, once Cheryl Gail Bunterman; a child star turned pop sensation hoping for a second comeback despite the fact that she can’t sing a whip. However due to real singers and the art of lip singing this is not a problem for her as long as she is conscious which often unfortunately is a problem since Cherry’s also desperately addicted to sex, booze and almost any drug she can get her hands on. And since Cherry can be counted on to occasionally overdose and be out of commission, enter Ann Delusia.
Ann is a wanna-be actress who pretends to be Cherry whenever her “gastritis” attacks. Star parties, premieres and A- list events sound exciting but Ann is usually relegated to a back room for an hour or so then rushed out just so an “appearance” was made and the paparazzi get their shot. Or at least they think they get their shot and that’s what’s important to Cherry’s Mom, management and entourage of attendants.
Speaking of paparazzi the novel would not be complete without Cherry’s most devoted follower Bang Abbott, a dubious photographer who in essence follows the star simply waiting for her eventual final OD and the pictures that could make him rich. Until a surprise plane ride and encounter with sweet Cherry turn him into much more than your standard dirt bag pap. Now he’s out for revenge.
Hiaasen’s wild ride also includes a former Florida governor nicknamed “Skink” who Hiaasen readers might remember. Now he is turned rogue environmental conservationist who isn’t above kidnapping and assault with a sea urchin to protect the wetlands. Add in a creepy bodyguard with a unique arm appendage and some other slightly fantastical plot twists and you’ve got Star Island. It’s a rollercoaster read for sure with more twists and turns than any reader could expect or imagine. However all in all it’s a fun if unbelievable read for hot summer days by the pool. Just enough pop culture reference and outstanding antics make it a good read for adult Hiaasen fans and your casual readers looking for an entertaining and humorous book.
In the end the brown eyed Cherry look alike Ann is the only real character within the book readers might come to care for, the rest provide comic relief and a quite bizarre storyline but it’s all in fun. Basically the main question is can Cherry keep up her career and lip synch her way back to stardom when she can barely keep on her feet or will Ann be outed as the real “Cherry” in all those photo ops? Only one way to tell and that’s to take your own journey to the wild and somewhat zany world of Star Island.