Audiobook review: “Nature Girl”

“Nature Girl” by Carl Hiassen. Read by Lee Adams. Unabridged, 11.5 hours, 9 CDs. Random House Audio. $39.95.

Honey Santana, the titular character, aims to rid the world of an evil menace with a convoluted plan to change a slimy telemarketer by bringing him to the wilds of Florida’s beautiful Ten Thousand Islands.

A wacky plot, colorful characters, bad decisions and a Florida setting are the main ingredients of Hiassen’s fictional world. And “Nature Girl” includes a half-white, half-Seminole man in the midst of an identity crisis, ghosts, an old bald eagle, a phony religious sect, sexual harassment, a sexy coed, a private investigator, adultery, gambling and gunplay. But it just doesn’t work.

Perhaps it’s because Honey is off her meds, meaning she’s not the usual hypocritical, narcissistic, hubristic hothead that Hiassen’s satire often targets; rather, she’s suffering from a clinical problem, and it’s hard to laugh when that’s the engine of the novel’s unfocused plot.

For the most part, Adams does a good job of keeping the action going and characterizing the main players, but for some reason both the Florida State coed (from Ohio) and a 12-year-old boy sound like Valley Girls.


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