REVIEW: 'Damned' by Chuck Palahniuk

Monday, 23 February 2015

"According to my wristwatch I've been dead for three months, two weeks, five days and seventeen hours. Subtract that from infinity and you get some idea why loads of doomed souls abandon all hope."

Meet Madison Spencer, the thirteen year old narrator of 'Damned' by Chuck Palahniuk, who takes you with her on a journey of self-discovery as she finds herself wandering around the depths of Hell after a marijuana overdose. At first glance, 'Damned' seems like a coming-of-age story that borrows satirically from our coming of age favourites: Judy Blume's 'Are You There God, It's Me Margaret' and 'The Breakfast Club'.

It's not an easy book to get into: it took me a few months, reading a couple of pages every now and then, wondering if I'd ever progress or come to warm to this teenage girl, who's the product of rich parents who love her in your stereotypical 'we have no time to love you, and aren't quite sure if we know how, having kids seemed like the right things to do for our image' kind of way, and thinks she's a lot more clever than she actually is. At some point, I wondered if I disliked her because she's clearly what a white male author thinks a thirteen year old girl is like. Maybe it's meant to be satire. Who knows.

Luckily, the book picks up about two-thirds in, and becomes rather difficult to put down as the plot begins to thicken and point of the book starts hitting you in the face with each turn of the page (I found myself having a few 'oh, so that's what that was all about moments'), and you're getting all excited that the book is finally as interesting as the amazing covered promise and then - BAM. You fall off the edge of a cliffhanger, screaming 'DAMNIT PALAHNIUK - HOW DARE YOU MAKE IT INTO A SEQUEL' Basically, it ends much better than it starts, and the plot (and its twists), rather than the characters, leaves you wishing for more. 

On Goodreads, I gave this 4/5 stars, which was probably (definitely) too generous. Chuck Palahniuk is one of my favourite authors, so the writing itself is enjoyable, the cultural references are a nice way to give yourself brownie points when you understand them, and I think I might have let out the odd chuckle here and there, but it took me bloody ages to get into, Madison is about as annoying to read as you imagine annoying thirteen year olds to be, and once I finally got into it, it ended in a bloody cliffhanger. The chances of me rushing out to buy the sequel 'Doomed', are currently very low.

Overall, I give this 3/5 stars, and would recommend it to people who like their fiction peppered with culture references, and sitting somewhere between satire, humour, horror and 'I'm not sure if that scene was entirely appropriate'. Definitely not Palahniuk's best work, but he could do worse. 

Have you read Damned? Are you a Chuck Palahniuk fan?

No comments:

Post a Comment