Star Island takes two opposing genres with this novel and fastens them on top of a Pop Culture theme.
Star Island covers the stereotypical American celebrity lifestyle, packed with drugs, jets, spirits, rehab and flashy cars, from the view point of a desperate, overweight and piggish photographer.
Claude Abbot or ‘Bang Abbot’ as he likes to be called, follows the tragic life of a young, talentless pop star Cherry Pye (think Hannah Montana) and her fall from stardom. This story, despite working with the tide of popular culture and the inevitable and overworked celebrity life undercuts everything with a high sense of satire.
…Cherry is too busy vomiting into ice buckets.
Cherry Pye, the child star, named by her mother, is an overworked, overpaid and over-hyped diva. She has sunk too far into the farce that is celebrity and has lost sense of reality with alcohol and drugs (no surprise there then). To help with her poor image, she has support from Ann DeLusia, a struggling actress who works as her double; appearing at after parties, ceremonies (the lot) when Cherry is too busy vomiting into ice buckets.The whole plot thins out too much here, attempting to focus on the journeys of three characters that are dislocated from each other, causing sudden jumps in plot and perspective.
The plot loses its way a lot without the grounding of a main perspective over all or even for each chapter, allowing for diversions with back stories, and often fluffing with odd scenes to help pad out character’s qualities.
What compels you to read Star Island is definitely the combination of genre. Hiaasen has taken the stock crime style and mashed it up with humour to create something completely different. It is often not clear whether Hiaasen is satirizing the idea of the stereotypical celebrity life with the stereotypical characters, (the pushy mother, the suppressed father, the greedy manager and gruesome bodyguard), since they are all sent up with the use of comedy; but as a result, we are never given a full image of any of the characters.
The main thing pulling you through is the witty style and the occasional humorous event.
They appear flat and false, but I wonder whether this is a subtle comment about shallow celebrity culture by Hiaasen, through the use of style?
The crime plot seems to have been worked through by watching too many American films or using ‘painting by numbers’; often the ‘twist’ is just another page that you will get through. The main thing pulling you through is the witty style and the occasional humorous event.
The book is an easy read, with no strenuous plot lines or complex characters to follow, a good holiday book no doubt. I do think Hiaasen has missed a trick here, by using the constant comedic undercutting, he falls into the trap of seeking a happy ending where as a more interesting plot would have looked for the poignant in the real and honest sense of waste and loss.
The book manages to achieve a fast-paced page-turning novel by focusing heavily on comedy but sometimes the cliché’s and cheap one-liners just don’t cut it. However, if you are looking for light entertainment, this book provides you with a nice slip out of reality and into the world of Paparazzi and Private planes.