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Literature / Star Island

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Star Island is a 2010 novel by Floridian humor novelist Carl Hiaasen.

Cheryl Bunterman, known to her fans as Cherry Pye, is a teen pop star on a constant spiral of self-destruction. To keep her frequent drug and alcohol binges from derailing the upcoming release of a new album, her mother and manager and have hired Ana DeLusia, a similar-looking actress, as a Body Double to appear in public while the real Cherry sobers-up. Challenges arise as Ana Deluisa encounters a violent but charming vagrant named Skink in a mangrove swamp, Cherry Pye escapes from rehab, and Bang Abbott, an obsessed Paparazzi, takes increasingly extreme measures to get his goal: a photo shoot of Cherry Pye in her final days.


Star Island contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Cherry has no restraint when it comes to drinking.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Cherry is prone to this, to the distress of her mother and record producer. On a drunken binge after escaping her rehab clinic, she takes the advice of a crooked psychic and tattoos a zebra with the head of Axl Rose on her neck.
  • Always Identical Twins: Played with. Cherry’s media managers, twin sisters Lucy and Lila Lark, were not born identical twins, but were obsessed with becoming identical, and so pursued extensive plastic surgery to make their dream a reality.
  • Artificial Limbs: Chemo, Cherry’s ex-con bodyguard, has a weedwhacker for an arm. He demonstrates it on flower vases, wallpaper, and Bang Abbott’s buttocks. It's also a Call-Back to the earlier novel Skin Tight, wherein Chemo lost the original.
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  • Banging for Help: Ana DeLusia after being kidnapped bangs for help when she is locked in Bang Abbott’s car trunk hard enough to make her hands bleed.
  • Believing Your Own Lies: Janet Bunterman feigns that her famous daughter’s frequent trips to the emergency room are dietary problems instead of drug and alcohol overdoses, yet acts genuinely outraged if anyone challenges her on this.
  • Berserk Button: Skink will bring violent revenge upon anyone who damages the environment, especially the Florida Everglades.
  • Body Double: Ana DeLusia is Cherry Pye’s body double. She is used to cover up for Cherry’s absences when the singer is missing or high on drugs.
  • Book-Ends: The book begins and ends with EMT Jimmy Campo being called out ("In all respects, a routine South Beach 911 call — until now"). The first time, he is picking up Ana with Claude present (hoping to get a photo of Cherry). The second time, he is picking up Claude with Ana present.
  • Child Pop Star: Cherry was one. Though in truth, she doesn't write music, can't play an instrument and can't sing - she's just a pretty face to serve as the front girl for the band who lip synchs one of the backup singers.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: Cherry's parents and unseen brothers have no sources of income besides contributing to her career in minute ways.
  • Cool Shades: Used by Ana to cover up the fact that her eyes are a different color than Cherry's on scheduled impersonations.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ana DeLusia. Especially when talking to Bang Abbott.
  • Decoy Getaway: When Cherry accidentally overdoses on vodka, Red Bull, hydrocodone, birdseed and stool softener, Ana DeLusia is taken out on a stretcher through the front exit, where she is photographed by Bang Abbott, while Cherry is snuck out the back.
  • Dirty Old Man: Maury Lykes, Cherry’s record producer is outright described as a closet pedophile by the narrative early on.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: After hearing a hotel guest brag about how her husband and his buddies had once beaten a shark to death with baseball bats, Skink sets her suitcase on fire with a can of stolen aerosol paint thinner, and when the fire alarm goes off, seizes her Maltese pet dog and runs off into the street with it. He considers eating it, but decides not to, as the Maltese doesn’t look like it would taste very good.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": It’s Cherry Pye, not Cheryl Bunterman. Later, Cherry demands that her name be once again changed, this time to “Cherish”. In the epilogue, it is revealed that she settles for “Chairish”. She has a boyfriend who also changes his name often - by reordering it.
  • Etiquette Nazi: Chemo zaps Cherry with a cattle prod every time she uses valley girl speak instead of proper grammar.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Chemo's a violent thug, but he takes a liking to Ana and is bothered by the Bunterman's callous attitude towards her safety. Later in the novel, Chemo convinces Skink not to kill Abbott (Chemo is blackmailing him for money), but says that if Abbott had raped Ana, Skink could go ahead and off him.
  • Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: Bang Abbott once lured a pack of hungry lemon sharks to a beach of tourists, hoping to get a lucrative photograph of their frenzied, panicked escape from the water. He assumed wrongly that lemon sharks would focus on the bloody chum bag and ignore the tourists. Instead, one of the sharks attacks the swimmers, one of whom runs out of the water with the animal still attached. Abbott won a Pulitzer Prize for capturing the moment, but was forced out the newspaper business after it's brought to light he essentially staged the whole thing, even though the attack was real.
  • Excrement Statement: Skink drops in on his treacherous former Lieutenant Governor D.T. Maltby (and an accomplice of Sebago) by taking a dump in his washing machine.
  • Fingore: After managing to get Bang Abbott’s gun away from him, Ana accidentally shoots one of his fingers off. It sticks to the ceiling. In addition to the pain, Bang Abbott is agitated by this event because it was his camera finger.
  • Former Child Star: Cherry's star is fizzling out because of her Alcohol-Induced Idiocy. A large part of the plot is her studio's efforts to keep her from publicly self-destructing until after they're able to cash in on her next album. They fail, and it turned out that the album was terrible and didn't sell.
  • Frozen Face: Due to extensive Botox, the twin sisters Lucy and Lila Lark, Cherry’s media managers, have permanent fixed expressions.
  • Going Cold Turkey: After being retrieved from her post-rehab binge, Cherry Pye is deprived of pills and alcohol, under the tender care of Chemo, the ex-con bodyguard.
  • Gonk: Chemo, due to repeated botched cosmetic surgeries, has a face frequently described as being covered in cornflakes and is missing part of an arm, he inspires horror in those who see him for the first time.
  • Groin Attack: Wherever he goes, someone is always willing to kick Bang Abbott in the crotch.
    • Skink sticks a sea urchin down the front of a corrupt real estate agent’s pants. It is exactly as painful as it sounds.
  • Jerkass: The Buntermans, Bang Abbott, the Lark sisters..there's not a lot of good folks in this story.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Cherry Pye, is, unfortunately, just as shallow and thoughtless inside as she is outside.
  • Karmic Jackpot: While generally pretty cutthroat and mercenary, the Lark Twins did have one act of kindness in the backstory which they ended up rewarded for. They had enough fondness for client Presley Aaron not to sue him for his fee (which was several months in arrears) and out of gratitude for this, and their being able to sell his comeback, Aaron gave them a six-figure bonus once he got his next contract, giving them enough money to pay for their plastic surgery.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Abbott's shark chumming resulted in an unlucky tourist getting part of his buttocks bitten off by a shark, which Bang photographed. Bang takes a bullet to the butt at the end of the novel, and winds up on a stretcher with his pants down while a rival paparazzo takes a candid photo.
  • Mile-High Club: Cherry and Abbott on a private jet flying from LA to Miami.
  • Mountain Man: Skink, the grizzled former governor of Florida, lives for the most part in Florida mangrove swamps and everglades, eating snakes and roadkill.
  • No Sympathy: After Skink puts Jackie Sebago (a Shady Real Estate Agent who'd been both cheating his investors and causing environmental damage with his project) into a diaper with a sea urchin inside the first cop on the scene notes that;
    Valdez sensed that the other passengers weren't especially sympathetic to Sebago's situation. In fact, a man named Shea angrily demanded that Mr. Sebago be arrested on the spot for fraud and embezzlement, crimes beyond the authority (or interest) of a working road-patrol officer.
  • Only Sane Man: Ana DeLusia and Maury Lykes are two of the only people around Cherry with perspective on her self-destructiveness, as opposed to most of the others who only enable, excuse and cover up her excesses.
  • Paparazzi: Bang Abbott’s profession, after leaving his previous gig as a news photographer in disgrace.
  • Reality Show: After Cherry's musical career finally crashes and burns, her family gets her a leading role on a reality tv show about washed up drug-addled ex-stars trying to put their lives back together.
  • Recovered Addict: Former hillbilly rock star Presley Aaron who only appears briefly but was managed by Lykes before his Descent into Addiction and managed to rehabilitate his image by hiring the Lark Twins to do his PR, and having his family hire Chemo to beat up Aaron (and the drug dealers) any time he tried to use or buy drugs.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Charged with the handling of Cherry Pye, Chemo takes a dislike to her use of valley girl vernacular and, in addition to keeping her off the wagon, pokes her with a cattle prod every time she uses words such as “like”, “dude”, or “totally” incorrectly. When Cherry angrily complains of this to her mother and record producer, they dismiss it as another one of her ridiculous lies.
  • Stage Mom: Janet Bunterman pushes her daughter fairly hard even though it's clearly having a toxic effect on her life.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Though he was already stalking her as part of his job as a Paparazzi, Bang Abbott’s obsession with Cherry Pye turns into this after a one-night stand on her private jet.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: One which describes (among other things) that Chemo's gone back to mortgages, Cherry's sobered up and gotten a Reality Show job, Lykes was killed by the father of a girl he molested and Abbot has to retire from being a paparazzo due to his immobilizing injuries from the final chapter.


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