“Watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead” – excerpt from Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
Madison is thirteen year old, overweight, ignored by her movie star parents and is attracted to her adopted brother. And yes, she is dead. The novel is all about her life (?) in hell, the souls she meet there and her conversations with Satan.
After starting and not completing some of the previous books by Chuck (some were boring, some were unreadable and some were downright offensive), I had my reservations about this book. The premise of the book sounded interesting but I was not sure about the treatment. To my surprise, it turned out to be an engaging read, laced with intelligent humor and witty one liners.
Chuck is known to be is a rockstar of kickass dialogues and he does not disappoints here. Also, Chuck’s hell, as seen thru the eyes of a thirteen year old, is an excellent satire on modern life on earth. Some concepts like ocean of wasted sperms, dandruff desert, telemarketers are from hell, etc. are seriously funny.
On the downside, the supporting characters are un-interesting and uni-dimensional. In the later part of the book, things move so fast that, within a few pages, Madison is challenging Satan’s authority. Also, the story itself is very weak. Although there are a few interesting twists and surprises, but things don’t tie up in the end. However, please note that this is a first part of series, and the story does not end with this novel. I am looking forward for the next part, hoping that Chuck will come up with a rocking story based on the context set in this one.
After all the unreadable stuff Chuck has come up with in the past few years, this was a welcome break. For me, it’s the second best book from Chuck, the first best obviously being Fight Club.
BTW, any book which ends with “to be continued” should highlight it at the very beginning. It is disappointing to see “to be continued” as a surprise at the end.