Palahniuk Provides A Comedic Version of Hell with Damned

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Palahniuk Provides A Comedic Version of Hell with Damned

Alyssa Aldrete, Managing Editor

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It’s “The Breakfast Club” turned devilish in satirical fiction novelist Chuck Palahniuk’s latest tale, Damned. With a background including such tasteless yet humorous novels as Choke and Haunted, it is no shock that the author has jumped back into the realms of such a style; even with the voice of a 13 year old narrator.

Palahniuk’s 12th novel is told by main character Madison Spencer, the prepubescent, recently deceased spawn of a superficial and unorthodox Hollywood couple. When Madison finds herself in Hell, she comes to the conclusion that she is damned due to a marijuana overdose. From her cell, she befriends Palahniuk’s twisted version of “The Breakfast Club”; a punk named Archer, a geek named Leonard, a jock by the name of Patterson, and the shallow princess, Babette. Together, the group embark on a tour through Hell, all the while revealing why exactly, they have all been damned.

Though the main source of content in the novel is the seemingly dragged out description of setting, it is quite possibly the part in which Palahniuk lets his imagination run wild, and at its best. Filled with landmarks such as Steaming Dog Pile Mountain and the Swamp of Rancid Perspiration, inmates including several different religious and political leaders, and terrorizing demons of the deformed manner, Hell could not have been described more interestingly, had it not come from the vile mind of Palahniuk.

In classic Palahniuk fashion, repetitiveness is very clear in this novel. Madison begins each chapter with a hellish spin on a Judy Blume introduction (turning “Are you there, God? It’s me, Judy” to “Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison”); this plays a key role since Madison is actually enjoying Hell and wishes to meet Satan. However, the constant assumption that people are questioning her intelligence anytime she uses a more advanced word, makes Madison seem like too much of a cynical and typical new teenager.

The book’s description is filled with dry humor, and actually develops a few interesting plots when it comes to finding out why Madison’s friends are damned to hell; but Madison’s revelation unfortunately falls flat. We find that it is not a marijuana overdose (as expected), but has something to do with a lover named Goran back on Earth. But just when all the dots seem to finally connect, the ending of the book, which finally allows our tragic heroine to meet Satan himself, does nothing but cancel out the many chapters it took to get to this place, and feels more confusing than revealing of the main question.

Though not his best work of art, Palahniuk’s Damned gives readers a great laugh, provides the provocative wit fans know and love, and keeps true to the voice of a typical 13 year old girl – damned for all eternity, at least.

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