Damned by Chuck Palahniuk (review by Elisabeth S. ’16)

Damned (Damned #1)Damned by Chuck Palahniuk
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Palahniuk is known for hyperbolizing his characters to accentuate their faults (and thus, by proxy, humanity or society’s faults) and his gruesome, gritty imagery, as shown through his bestsellers Fight Club and Invisible Monsters. After the first few books, though, the same techniques get drier and drier until you end up with a book like Damned. Damned is tale of young adult Madison who ends up in hell after a marijuana overdose at her boarding school and of her further adventures with her unlikely “inmates.” This story is made unique because of Madison’s singular voice. Palahniuk’s characters are the antithesis of perfect, so flawed that readers are forced to pay attention with the same sort of attention they give a car accident or train wreck. This can prove effective at times, but in this case, there was very little cogency or cohesiveness to be found in the plot, so the novel fell short. Madison became such a caricature of a normal human being that it was impossible for me to engage and empathize with her feelings about her unlucky situation, and thus the entire novel was made simply not memorable enough to matter, despite its potential in idiosyncratic subject matter. – Elisabeth S. ‘16

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