“Star Island” by Carl Hiaasen, Knopf, July 2010, 352 pp., $26.95.
Carl Hiaasen returns to his signature Florida setting for Star Island, his newest novel based on the antics of a young and rebellious pop star. Cherry Pye, whose name was changed from Cheryl Bunterman at an early age to up her marketability, takes us along on her escapades, which come to make the comparison with today’s Lindsay Lohan inescapable. She frequents rehab, flaunts her promiscuity, and has a show-mom and staff who only perpetuate the cycle. The cast of characters is indeed colorful: from the bodyguard named Chemo to the body-double named Ann DeLusia there is no shortage of action and entertainment.
A taste of this is present even in the first few pages: A slovenly photographer named Bang Abbott waits outside the hotel where Cherry Pye is supposedly overdosing on a self-administered cocktail of drugs and alcohol. Abbott runs excitedly toward a stretcher being wheeled out the door, only to realize that the young, model-like body belongs not to Cherry Pye but to her hired double, struggling actress Ann DeLusia. As this transpires, Cherry Pye and her mother and staff head out the backdoor, bound for the much-frequented hospital.
The entertainment value being noted, beware of over-the-top characters, most notably, Cherry herself. She goes through the motions of the stereotypical screwed up child-star turned teen, yet she does not extend beyond this realm of stereotype of pure satire. Similarly, Bang Abbot, paparazzo, is exaggeratedly pathetic, the mom continues to be purposefully ignorant, and Chemo is grotesque. These figures are more caricatures than characters. That being said, it is still a fun and easy read that offers the tone and humor of a typical Carl Hiaasen novel.