Review: Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
October 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
|Goodreads synopsis: The author described the novel as “if The Shawshank Redemption had a baby by The Lovely Bones and it was raised by Judy Blume.” And “it’s kind of like The Breakfast Club set in Hell.”
“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued eleven-year-old narrator of Damned, Chuck Palahniuk’s subversive new work of fiction. The daughter of a narcissistic film star and a billionaire, Madison is abandoned at her Swiss boarding school over Christmas, while her parents are off touting their new projects and adopting more orphans. She dies over the holiday of a marijuana overdose—and the next thing she knows, she’s in Hell. Madison shares her cell with a motley crew of young sinners that is almost too good to be true: a cheerleader, a jock, a nerd, and a punk rocker, united by fate to form the six-feet-under version of everyone’s favorite detention movie. Madison and her pals trek across the Dandruff Desert and climb the treacherous Mountain of Toenail Clippings to confront Satan in his citadel. All the popcorn balls and wax lips that serve as the currency of Hell won’t buy them off.
I’ve discovered by reading this that I am not a big fan of satire. Not even extremely well written satire, which this certainly is. So while I personally didn’t like it, I would still recommend it to those who enjoy this type of book.
Damned follows the 13year old protagonist, Madison, as she wakes up in Hell after overdosing on marijuana. Each chapter begins “Are you there Satan, it’s me Madison” with a little note to Satan. Madison is a sarcastic and cynical girl who has been alternately spoiled and neglected by her rich, famous, and “free-thinking” parents. She joins a group of her peers, reminiscent of The Breakfast Club, as they journey through Hell searching for Satan. Throughout Damned is an overabundance of pop-culture references, blood, gore, and all manner scenes designed to disgust and offend even the most broad minded reader. There were some moments that were laugh out loud funny, but most of the humor read more like the college equivalent of a fart joke.
This book is much too sexually explicit to be appropriate for teens and much to corny to appeal to most adults, so I believe that this would mainly appeal to the same demographic that enjoys movies about college frat parties and the like