Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Publisher: Random House
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Doomed, Chuck Palahniuk’s much-anticipated sequel to Damned, continues the infernal adventures of Madison Spencer, “the liveliest and snarkiest dead girl in the universe.” While the first instalment of the trilogy presented the reader with Hell: the Palahniuk edition, Doomed is a dark, provocative, very irreverent apocalyptic vision.
Madison Spencer finds her ghostly self trapped on Earth after a Halloween ritual gone awry. A chance encounter with her deceased grandmother leads Madison into remembrance of a past that is in equal parts crazy and dark. New details from the grisly past lead Madison to understand the inevitability of her life’s trajectory and shed some light on her position vis-a-vis the immortal battle between Evil and Good.
Doomed is delightful because the author- a forty something white male- has successfully created a supremely engaging (if not always realistic) psychic landscape of a thirteen year old girl who is a seething mess of dark adolescent sexuality, very understandable morbidity and defensive cynicism. What I find particularly hilarious is the way Madison’s unbelievably damaged perspective is imbued with the kind of authorial straight-facedness that is supposed to establish the bond of trust between narrator and reader. And the fact that it’s brimming with this kind of blasphemous wisdom that nonetheless rings true:
“The avant-garde in every world consists of the lonely, the friendless, the uninvited. All progress is the product of the unpopular. People in love-with nurturing, attentive, non-movie-star parents- they would never invent gravity. Nothing except deep misery leads to real success.”
The fun of reading Doomed lies in the fact that it’s internal logic makes sense only when ruthlessly circumscribed within the pages. Therefore, it is not ideal for readers who look for plausibility in plots. Those with queasy stomachs and easily offended sensibilities are also advised to pick other books.
As for me, I will be camping out for the final book, comfort blanket and hot beverage in tow.
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