By Chuck Palahniuk
Only Palahniuk could write a coming-of-age about a dead, 13-year-old, self-proclaimed “fat girl” overhauling Hell as a telemarketer, collecting candy from demonic beings, and ripping the mustache off Hitler, and make it seem normal and well-written.
I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Tai Sammons (exquisitely well, I might add). Sammons doesn’t shy away from the crude, vulgar vocabulary of Palahniuk, but rather plays with it. Damned is a work of crazy creativity and calls out the artificiality of society in a way that only Palahniuk is mad enough to imagine.
In this dark and twisted view of Hell, it’s easy to get lost in the scenery of the Great Ocean of Wasted Sperm, the Swamp of Partial-Birth Abortions, and the other grotesque landscapes Palahniuk paints. The continued motifs and flow keep bringing you back to the story just as you’re getting lost in the characters, and imagining what Hell looks like.
This is an entirely different side of death. An entirely different side of Hell. And an entirely different side of society. Palahniuk is always targeting society and exploiting its norms. He’s always imagining new, creative ways to outline society’s selfish attitudes.
All I know, is that every time I get a call from a telemarketer, I’m going to be asking, “Is this Maddy? Madison Spencer?”
I would give Damned 3.5 out of 5 stars. That’s not to say the book isn’t good. It’s written phenomenally well. But, if you give a professional chef five okay-ingredients, you’re going to get the best okay-dinner you can get. All of the principles are there, all of the qualities that make this a great book. So, why isn’t it a 5-star book? Because Palahniuk is an amazing author, but the story just wasn’t gripping enough for me. He took okay-ingredients and made it the best version it could be. You could give this concept and idea to any other author and it would turn out a complete disaster. Palahniuk makes it work.
For anybody that’s read Palahniuk, you’ll like it. For anybody that’s never read a word of Palahniuk, you’ll be introduced to madness that you’ve never known before. And you’ll love the feeling. Once you buy Damned, you might as well buy Doomed with it so you can just carry on to Part II of the story.
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