Author: Chuck Palahniuk
“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued thirteen-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. This is the afterlife as only Chuck Palahniuk could imagine it. [via GoodReads]
Damned is the story of Madison, dead at thirteen from a marijuana overdose. As if that’s not bad enough, because really, who overdoses on marijuana, but on top of that she’s also been damned to Hell (obviously, because of the marijuana.) Throughout her exploits in Hell, she makes a few friends… a popular girl, a nerd, a jock and a rebel – sound familiar? It definitely reminded me of my favorite 80’s detention movie. She also traverses the many landscapes of Hell, i.e.: the Dandruff Desert, past the Great Ocean of Wasted Sperm, even the Sea of Insects (to name a few). But although she finds that Hell isn’t as terrible as she always imagined while alive, she finds that being in Hell is the least of her worries. To get the answers she seeks, she’ll have to do some growing up and face the big guy himself… Satan.
This is my first Chuck Palahniuk book. I know, I know… why haven’t I read him before? Don’t really know. But, know this, this is just the beginning between the relationship Chuck and I have formed. While I’ve read some of the reviews and I can see the majority think this is not Chuck’s best work, I found this dramedy to be downright hilarious. Luckily, I don’t have a weak stomach, since yes, the Great Ocean of Wasted Sperm is one of the lighter things mentioned. I can see where some might be a little queasy even grossed out by some of the things and scenarios depicted. I quite frankly, found Chuck’s satire un-put-down-able. I love the adventures of Hell. I found it hilarious that The English Patient plays endlessly, that you are in a dirty cage, and that if you encounter a demon, they normally devour you limb by limb, then there was the dandruff, toenail clippings, etc. It was wonderful.
The first, in what has been rumored to be a trilogy, Damned was a great intro to Mr. Palahniuk. No, it’s not a masterpiece, but it was definitely enjoyable. I cannot wait to see what he puts Maddie through next.