Native Tongue

n57035Title: Native Tongue.

Author: Carl Hiaasen.

Summary: PR man Joe Winder didn’t believe the theft of the last two blue-tongued voles on Earth from a billionaire’s Florida theme park. He just wrote the story. Asking questions later was his biggest mistake. Before he could say Robbie Raccoon, he was hiding out in the Everglades with a one-eyed man and gun-toting granny in pink curlers – and ready to put the skids on the craziest crime con in the history of the state…

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: My fourth Carl Hiaasen book, i knew what to expect. I knew in what ways i would enjoy it, and it what ways to brace myself for crap. Hiasaen did not buck his trend and my expectations were in no way disappointed with this book.

The pros: It’s silly and funny and made me laugh out loud. The whole premise (the ongoing attempts to sabotage a poor imitation Disneyland theme park and its owner’s plans to destroy a large section of Floridian wildlife in order to build a golf course) is ridiculous and only gets more slapstick as the book progresses, but the progression of the ridiculousness is so gradual, you barely notice it happening and don’t stop to question it.

The storytelling is actually very good. The small hints and subtle foreshadowing is perfection. A couple of times they caught me out completely, but often a small mention of something had me thinking, “I hope that’s…” and when it turned out it was, i could only grin with glee.

The characters. The characters i am divided on pretty much 50/50. The male characters are all well done, all interesting with diverse personalities. The females are a sack of shit.

Let’s start with the males. Skink, a returning character from Hiaasen’s last book, will always steal the show. He has strong ethics and dubious morals, he’s just the kind of character i love. But really, Pedro Luz, steroid guzzling theme park security head steals the spot as my favourite character in this book. Not because i liked him, to be frank, i couldn’t wait for him to die. He was my favourite because he was so bloody entertaining. When someone chews off their own foot and brags about it to anyone who’ll listen, how can you not love them?

Bud and Danny i loved as a criminal duo. Favouring the burglary of empty properties and hating guns, they are suddenly thrust into kidnapping, extortion and deals with the Mafia. Danny is an uneducated but ultimately kind hearted coward. Bud is more pragmatic and could be considered the brains of the operation. They have an unspoken loyalty to one another, but it’s a loyalty neither of them would ever want to test.

As expected, from previous Hiaasen books, his female characters are poor. The best he can do in this book is Molly McNamara, a rich old lady who campaigns tirelessly for the Florida wilderness. The reason Molly is Hiaasen’s best female character to date? Even Hiaasen finds it difficult to sexualise an elderly lady.

It is immensely frustrating. On the one hand, Hiaasen seems to point at and mock the over-sexualised image of women (with a grotesquely over-large photograph of a naked woman at the nineteenth hole of a golf course or the dumbing down of a historical show in order to “show more tits and ass”), but he himself does nothing to make his female characters anything but typical clichés of this; they serve little-to-no purpose except as sexual objects for the male characters.

As much as i enjoyed all aspects of the book except the blatant sexism, i will never be able to give Hiaasen more than three stars until he writes more realistic female characters.

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About Wendleberry
I'm odd.

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