three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
By: 
Carl Hiaasen
user_rating: 
0

A-Nature GirlHoney Santana, the "queen of lost causes," is not in the mood for dinnertime telemarketing calls, and her bipolar psyche tells her to teach her latest caller a lesson. She convinces him to partake in a Floridian kayaking ecotour on an aptly named Everglades island, Dismal Key. In true Carl Hiaasen fashion, a bevy of quirky characters—including Honey’s dope-dealing ex, a half-blooded Seminole, the telemarketer’s two-bit tabloid celebrity girlfriend, and others—collide during a turbocharged adventure in the Everglades. Honey’s agenda of righting wrongs, teaching manners, and addressing greed for the sake of creating a better world for her precocious adolescent son, Fry, wreaks tropical havoc with hilariously tragic outcomes.
Knopf. 306 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0307262995

Boston Globe 4 of 5 Stars
"As depicted by the deft pen of Carl Hiaasen, ecoterrorism is not only justified, it’s hilarious. … Although at times this is a gentler book than his previous outings, with more slapstick and less undiluted acid satire, the breakneck narrative still makes things mighty rough for the selfish and the eco-sinning." Clea Simon

Miami Herald 4 of 5 Stars
"Sometimes the craziest among us speak the truest truth. Nature Girl is a morality tale for our time, told in a disarmingly hilarious but piercingly righteous style." Sam Harrison

Oregonian 3.5 of 5 Stars
"If the characters seem a little more cardboard this time out, and if when they all end up on an island together it seems a bit too preordained, that hardly matters. This is Hiaasen’s 11th two-word-title novel and predictability is part of the appeal—this is escapist beach reading and not intended for heavy lifting." Charles R. Cross

Washington Post 3.5 of 5 Stars
"There probably will never be another book, by Hiaasen or anyone else, as hilarious and wicked as Native Tongue, and that may be just as well; humans can probably stand just a limited amount of uncontrollable mirth. Nature Girl will only make you smile and laugh out loud three or four times. But that’s enough." Carolyn See

Los Angeles Times 2.5 of 5 Stars
"A Hiaasen novel is populated with characters improbable anywhere but in Florida and who careen into and away from each other at dizzying speed. … On the other hand, it does play amusingly enough against the types and conventions of crime fiction to satisfy readers who find their sedentary recreation in that genre." Tim Rutten

Milwaukee Jrnl Sentinel 2 of 5 Stars
"Please, Uncle Carl, bring back the magic, your unique mastery of the weirdness spawned by the rape of Florida. We read your books for their satirical brilliance, not for a recap of the yo-yos next door." Adam Dunn

Critical Summary

Carl Hiaasen doesn’t like developers intruding on his Floridian home front, and his outlandish and entertaining novels illustrate his resentment. He permeates his tales with humor to make his cause palatable, a method that has attracted a faithful, almost cultlike following. Die-hard Hiaasen fans will devour his colorful and shameless characters and exotic settings even if his latest installment spurs a feeling of déjà vu (à la Native Tongue and Sick Puppy). Detractors cite cardboard characters and a predictable plot. Those tiring of Hiaasen’s political, do-no-harm peeve may still revel in his spicy humor and inventive caricatures—but perhaps hope for a new direction in future novels.