By Chuck Palahniuk

October 18, 2011 • 256 PAGES

3.7 Stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

In Damned, Palahniuk introduces Madison Spencer, a thirteen year-old girl who finds herself traversing Hell with a ragtag group of sinners, as she posthumously tries to “find herself” and navigate the never-ending journey of becoming.

Let me start with this: You’ll either love this book or you’ll hate it, and I think it all depends on if you like the protagonist.

Maddy reminds me a lot of Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye, which is one of my favorite novels. Holden inspires a lot of polarizing discourse because of his incessant complaining, angst, and mistrust of the world. In the same way, Maddy is as self-depreciating and insufferable as any teenager who’s very “I hate everyone and everyone hates me.” I know this doesn’t sound enticing, but despite the exaggerated nature of her character, I found her to be hilarious, charming, and relatable (characterize me as you will with that confession).

You can expect a lot of repetitive syntax and chapter long monologues; but you can also expect dark (and I mean dark) wit, extreme satire, both literary and pop-cultural references, and– one of my personal favorites- cunnilingus from a severed, but alive, head. You also learn a lot about theology, unsurprisingly (but also surprisingly?).

Overall, I enjoyed reading the outright ridiculous terrains of hell (there’s literally a swamp of semen and aborted babies) and satirical commentary on culture, high-society, and politics. I think Palahniuk does the latter without being overbearing, which I feel is a difficult thing to achieve.

I won’t say this is a story about self-discovery, because it’s pretty clear that it’s an eternal and vain endeavor, but it’s a good read if you want to explore the twisted side of humor. And If this is a far cry from Palahniuk usual greatness, as many claim, then I’m glad it was my first and I look forward to reading more from him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s