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Damned by Chuck Palahniuk

Damned (2011)

by Chuck Palahniuk

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8244611,002 (3.19)16
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3.5 stars.

Dear God,

I want to go to Hell, ‘kay? Thanks bunches!

Damned is the first book I’ve enjoyed from Palahniuk since… Diary, I think. His first four or five novels were fantastic, and then we received such disasters as Tell Tale, Snuff, and Pygmy (The latter was written entirely in phonetic English. Le sigh…). Because I was so shell shocked by Pygmy I completely skirted Rant, because it seemed to be written in the form of interviews, a style I’ve never enjoyed. The only reason I picked up Damned is that I found a hardcover edition for three bucks. Boy, am I ever glad I bought it.

I had big fun traversing Chuck Palahniuk’s version of Hades. His descriptions are vivid and disgusting, just the way I like my hellish landscapes. A place where candy bars are used as a form of currency and Hitler gets what’s coming to him is a place I want to vacation. A standout section of this book for me was the gang riding a giantess into the central hub of Hell. What preludes this ride is some of the funniest adult entertainment I’ve ever read. Gives a whole new meaning to the term giving head.

I must note that I was rather taken aback by the way the author tackled a sensitive subject: having a boy brag about being a school shooter. Even though the kid’s lying, it took me out of the story for a second so that I could consider whether or not I wanted to continue. If you think you’d be put off by such, you might want to skip this book. I don’t know why I was surprised, given that Palahniuk’s never been known for being politically correct, but my own personal opinion is that the scene was tactless and unnecessary.

One of the major selling points of a Chuck Palahniuk book is the guarantee of a twist. Damned is no different. Somehow, I didn’t see the mid-point mindfuck coming, even though it was pissing in my face the entire time, so my hat’s off to the author for that one. Yet, I was disappointed in the final curve ball. Seemed… oddly enough, very Stephen King-ish. You’ll have to read this one to understand why I say that, but if you liked the final three Dark Tower novels, you should love Damned.

In summation: Not Palahniuk’s best, but well worth the read. I will be reading the sequel, Doomed, in the near future, and I’m looking forward to more of the author’s unique imagings. I’ve heard it said that readers of Palahniuk judge one another on which of his books are their favorite. Here’s mine: Invisible Monsters. Nuff said.

( )
  Edward.Lorn | Feb 13, 2015 |
This was my first experience reading Palahniuk (outside of Fight Club) and I am a huge fan.

This is a novel about a chubby 13-year-old named Madison who dies unexpectedly and finds herself in Hell. She teams up with a ragtag group of Breakfast Club-esque teenagers and explores her new home, while reflecting on her time on Earth and what could have caused her to end up in Hell.

Each chapter begins with a little letter from Madison, to Satan. It's super witty and a truly solid read. I laughed multiple times while reading it on an airplane and the man beside me seemed super entertained by my entertainment. There's a great twist in the book that I didn't see coming, and that's rare for me. I'm the friend who everyone else refuses to watch TV shows and movies with because I always guess the ending.

If you've never read Palahniuk, this is a really good start. Not too heavy, but still very much a similar feel. And, there's a sequel, in case you're like me and need a bit more of Madison. ( )
  CarleyShea | Feb 5, 2015 |
This is a book that should be read by church members, but will probably never be read there. It goes over our philosophy of hell and what is its meaning in the 21st century. Great read. Funny through out and not once did I want to write him a letter complaining about his theology. He is very accurate in his sins of our current culture. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
This is a book that should be read by church members, but will probably never be read there. It goes over our philosophy of hell and what is its meaning in the 21st century. Great read. Funny through out and not once did I want to write him a letter complaining about his theology. He is very accurate in his sins of our current culture. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
It had been touted as “Dante’s Inferno meets The Breakfast Club.” This description was the reason I picked it up! However, it was a little too literal. In the book we meet Madison, a caustic 13 year old girl, only-child to Hollywood stars, who had the misfortune of expiring much too soon. She, the seemingly awkward wallflower, bands together a group of other young, damned souls: the pretty girl, the rebel, the jock, and the nerd…see, literally the same group of angsty teens from the 1985 John Hughes flick!

It's written in the first-person voice of Madison herself and was easy enough to read, but at times maybe too easy. The plot itself is one held together with a thin thread, in my opinion. Yes, we get from start to finish, but something about all the in-between left me questioning it’s chapter’s layout.

There were more than a few lines that made me laugh out loud, but most of it was read wanting to get through it all quickly. It’s not the grotesque, detailed imagery of environments and settings truly fit for the darkest depths of Hell that got me, I had expected that from Palahniuk, who’s ‘shock and disgust’ writing style I had come to like. It was more Madison’s own prose. In the beginning, it was cute and funny…but half-way in it grew to be tiring and monotonous.

In the end, I was more happy with finishing it than with how it ended. I’m not sure if I would recommend this to anyone for any other reason than gross-out factor alone. ( )
  agvuerdua | Dec 4, 2014 |
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Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison.
Trust me, the being-dead part is much easier than the dying part. If you can watch much television, then being dead will be a cinch. Actually, watching television and surfing the Internet are really excellent practice for being dead.
No, it's not fair, but what makes earth feel like Hell is our expectation that it should feel like Heaven. Earth is earth. Dead is dead. You'll find out for yourself soon enough. It won't help the situation for you to get all upset.
Probably I woke up because someone was screaming in Hell, someone is always screaming. Anyone who's ever flown London to Sydney, seated next to or anywhere in the proximity of a fussy baby, you'll no doubt fall right into the swing of things in Hell. What with the strangers and crowding and seemingly endless hours of waiting for nothing to happen, for you Hell will feel like one long, nostalgic hit of deja vu. Especially if your in-flight movie was The English Patient. In Hell, whenever the demons announce they're going to treat everyone to a big-name Hollywood movie, don't get too excited because it's always The English Patient or, unfortunately, The Piano.
Another detail to remember about Hell ... whenever you ask why anyone is damned for all eternity, she'll tell you "jaywalking" or "carrying a black purse with brown shoes" or some such pretty nonsense. In Hell you'd be foolish to count on people displaying high standards of honesty. The same goes for earth.
Don't get me wrong. Hell isn't so dreadful, not compared to Ecology Camp, and especially not compared to junior high school. Call me jaded, but not much compares to having your legs waxed or getting your navel piercing done at a mall kiosk.
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As thirteen-year-old Madison tries to figure out how she died and ended up in Hell, she learns how to manipulate the corrupt system of demons and bodily fluids.

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