Book #1 in the Damned series: published 10/18/11
I borrowed the audio book from my library saving me $29.95 (audio price)
The newest Palahniuk novel concerns Madison, a thirteen year old girl who finds herself in Hell, unsure of why she will be there for all eternity, but tries to make the best of it.
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.”
For my second venture into audio book land I chose this little gem… Being limited to the available titles offered by my library I thought this one was fairly appropriate for the chores I planned on doing while listening, shoveling shit. My barn needs to be cleaned out, a job that is tedious, back-breaking and filthy and Damned seemed like a good fit. The narrator of the book, Tai Sammons, seemed like a good pick for the story. She was pleasant to listen to, so I won’t rule out another book read by her.
This book is told from the perspective of Madison in a series of letters she writes to Satan, à la the book Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume. Now somehow my childhood escaped the reading of Ms. Blume’s book, but I am going to assume this a twisted satirical take on that book. The premise of this book was interesting and the author has some important ideas to share about society and damnation, but his message gets lost in his attempt to illicit shock value through his imagery. Stephen King has the same problem, in my opinion, they get so wrapped up in trying to be gross, scary, disturbing, or outrageous that the point they are trying to make gets diminished along with the story. It is like reading something written by a twelve-year-old boy, all fart jokes and sexual innuendos….
There were some redeeming parts, enough for me to grant it that second star. I appreciated how he tried to get us to look at the ridiculousness of celebrities and our worship of them. I felt for Madison and her life as a spoiled neglected child of movie stars and her premature demise. I thought some of the ideas he had about hell and damnation were quite clever as well. The twist at the end was too, but I’m afraid it wasn’t enough for me to continue with the next book. Now from the other reviews I have read earlier book by Mr. Palahniuk are better, so perhaps I will give one of those a listen to some day. For this book though, I’m glad I listened to it rather than read it. If I had been reading I probably would have DNFed, but when you are out in the barn shoveling shit without a WiFi signal, well I was motivated to stick with this one to the end.
My Rating: 2 stars