“Are you there, Satan? It’s me, Madison,” declares the whip-tongued 13-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: a twisted inferno where The English Patient plays on endless repeat, roaming demons devour sinners limb by limb, and the damned interrupt your dinner from their sweltering call center to hardsell you Hell. He makes eternal torment, well, simply divine.
©2011 Chuck Palahniuk (P)2011 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
“The story scoots along like any great adventure story, as she takes on Hitler and Catherine de Medici, and it’s a delight seeing Madison find her place in life, even if it’s in death.” (Booklist)
"Palahniuk is one of the freshest, most intriguing voices to appear in a long time. He rearranges Vonnegut's sly humor, DeLillo's mordant social analysis, and Pynchon's antic surrealism (or is it R. Crumb's?) into a gleaming puzzle palace all his own." (Newsday)
Author, rabid Audible listener.
Are you there Satan? It's me, Madison. This is the start of each new chapter as narrated by a 13 year old dead girl damned to Hell in Chuck Palahniuk's latest novel. Hell is certainly hot. Hell is where demons rule over us puny dead humans. Hell is where dot matrix printers, dialup connections and telemarketing jobs rule the offices dwellings of the damned.
We start the story with little Madison sharing what appears to be her first day in Hell and giving really good pointers for the future dead. Always wear good shoes when alive because the bad plastic knock-offs always melt. Never touch the cell bars or your skin will corrode. And most importantly, make sure you have some good candies on hand to make nice with the demons that may otherwise eat you.
Do not bother trying to figure out where this plot is going. This is a dark comedy that is incredibly fun to read and you just need to go with the flow. There is tough and disgusting subject matter that is handled with a very deadpan comedic way so even the squeamish won't much mind the descriptions of various lakes, rivers and waterways made up of discarded human waste. No seriously, it will be fun going on this journey, you will see!
Follow our main character Madison as we travel through Hell, learn about her past, her crazy family, her friends in Hell and her ability to recruit new people in droves to the underworld. Get some great pointers along the way on how to deal with Hell because if you so much peed in a pool more than a few times in your life, that's where you are headed.
Madison's story covers a lot of ground and the close friendships, along with their stories, make us consider the things we may have done right or wrong in our lives. This book never preaches and certainly won't convert any satanists or loyal belivers but it does endear you to the characters, make us consider our actions here on earth and of course re-consider our clothing options everyday because it may be our last.
I've read a lot of other reviews before buying this book but as an Audible listener I was immediately sold with the voice of Tai Sammons as Madison. For the record, this is the first Chuck Palahniuk book I've ever finished because his other work was too confusing or frenetic for me so maybe hardcore readers don't like it but a newbie might love it.
I got "Damned" by Chuck Palahniuk partly on the promise of the Audible review and partly because I know about the author and his writing. My bias, however, is that I prefer audiobooks that are performed rather than just read, so this book came up just a little bit short for me. There were some funny passages, and a lot of interesting cross references. In the end, however, I just wasn't into Ms. Sammons's delivery of the book.
Scientist, artisan, anachronism
damned – are you there Satan? It’s me… Maynard.
I LOVE this book. author: great. Story: great. Narrator: great. I have listened to this book over and over and over. I usually don’t like stories about teenagers. Even less so do I like stories about teenage girls. However, chuck pulls it off. Now this is by no means a story for the younger despite it being about a teen (you know: sex, drugs, cunnilingus…). The occasional history of the demons in hell and the imagery of such is the highlight of the book for me. Additionally the articulation is perfect: a chipper and yet exhausted sarcasm is perfect for a teenager in hell.
Make no mistake, I am a Palahniuk fan. I might even say he is my favorite author. So consider my bias when reading my review. Of chuck’s other novels, that I have read, my favorites are: survivor, invisible monsters and damned. Choke was somewhere between good and ok. Stranger than fiction was between ok and good.
Fantastic narration, memorable characters, and mind-bending plots get me every time.
The subject of "Damned" is straight-forwardly supernatural in content while remaining fully tongue-in-cheek in its approach. Hordes of demons and the damned populate the 247 hellish pages of this opening novel in a trilogy about the afterlife, but, if that sounds like a bit too much like a nightmare, don't worry---there's not much to be afraid of here: Palahnuik's imagery invokes more gross-out than gore-fest; and his treatment in general is way more satire than horror; and, despite the bizarre geographical landmarks he points out along the way, the protagonist's tour through hell ends up looking more like "Gulliver's Travels" than "Inferno." But this is by no means a bad thing, and all of it seems to go by too fast, at any rate. At a bit over seven hours via audio book, you might be left wishing you had gotten just a peek, no matter how disgusting, of the infamous "Swamp of Partial-Birth Abortions" just to keep the ride going.
Both in terms of setting and protagonist, "Damned" marks a slightly different turn for novelist Chuck Palahnuik, but fans should have no trouble recognizing the same cynical, outsider's vantage point in the narration, along with the striking originality of language and word choice the author employs. It may take the reader a bit of time to grasp the odd premise of "Damned," a first-person narrative that brims with the usual clever similes and pop culture references, but once the concept is grasped--that, yes, the setting for this story literally is HELL---he or she may well chuckle and smile, as I did, at the uniqueness of such an approach to storytelling. At its core, "Damned" is consistently entertaining, highly imaginative, and at times, simply mesmerizing.
Tai Sammons narrates the tale with aplomb although some may find her voice a bit irritating and nasally. I was not among them and thought she inhabited the characters well. I recommend this book for anyone wanting a fun, escapist tale, well told and full of creative visual atrocities the likes of which could only come from the mind of Chuck Palahnuik.
The story is told through the eyes of a 13 year old girl but it falls flat as the author tries to recreate a weird version of Juno except in hell. It is really the rambling craziness of a 13 year old girl, nothing profound. I would pass.
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it.
OK Chuck, you win. Clearly you wrote this book for the sole purpose of playing a game of "chicken" with your readers - to see if you could force everyone to turn this horrible excuse for a story off before it ends. I did. I LOVED Haunted (a book which offended a lot of other people) but this book is on a whole different (lower) level.
One scene details the main character (a 13 year old girl) climbing half-way up the body of a huge female demon, holding up the still living, decapitated head of a teen-age boy to a part of the demon's body (a body part that can't be named here) so the boy's head can... you know... (this is to "distract" the demon from swallowing said boy's body - which itself now shows signs of "reacting" to what it's decapitated head is doing.
If you understood just how cleaned up/censored the above description was, you'd be shocked. There is no way for me to even hint at how far this goes, because the review would be too offensive to remain posted. I have an extremely healthy sense of humor, and as I said I've enjoyed previous works by the author, but this just turned my stomach.
This may be the first time in my life I honestly want a refund on a story.
I know a book by Chuck Palahniuk is going to be unusual. Generally, his works are also entertaining. I loved Rant, Choke, and Pygmy, but this one was just weird, disjointed, and boring. Most of it was blatently insipid. I'm not sure what audience Palahniuk was trying to reach but there was a lot of purile, bathroom "humor" attempted. Many story threads are left dangling and the whole experience, other than the charming reader, was, for me, disappointing.
An avid reader that has run out of time to read and has turned to audiobooks to get his daily bookworm fed.
First off I'll give a standing O to Tai Sammons for a superb narration. Second let me say this book is one of the most sacrilegious, crass, disgusting book I have ever experienced, and I loved every minute of it. As with all of Palahniuk's works it a little hard to get with the tempo of the book at first but it gets going eventually. His subject matter is as usual very unique that is almost off putting at first, his humor is the blackest of black, and his repetitive mantras/phrases become almost the heartbeat of the story (like Fight Club's "I Am......" statements). I understand why almost all his books get just average ratings (you either love his stuff or you hate it) but Damned's premise and environment building is one of the best I've seen in a while. On the downside Ol Chuck likes to ramble on and on and on and on.......... But generally I enjoyed the books 8ish hour run time (another benefit his books are rarely long) and I will happily begin the sequel ASAP.
She is a fantastic actress, if you can stomach the certain plot lines in the book that would make people cringe normally to just experience her acting skills, you're in for a treat. Her voice acting skills are phenomenal.
Chuck Palahniuk Rebels! Is this Chuck pushing buttons so that he does not become a household name? For a while now I can see that lot of people may have looked to him as becoming this icon of american pop culture, the rabid writings of a softly spoken man that you could print lines off onto t shirts and make a few dollars... or even that reference that becca in "californication" might have made as listing our friend Chuck as an "inspiration".
I'd probably be annoyed too.
This book will be unsettling to a lot of people because of the graphic nature of things essentially happening to a child, all within a realm where sex, violence and the devil all seem to come into place.
His relentless approach and descriptive powers that we all enjoy from books like diary, choke, fight club etc have been used in topics that will leave a lot of people not wanting to read or listen to this book. I'd say it takes a true fan (I don't refer to myself as one) to really sit back and enjoy the writing in this book and see it as a work of Chuck's among many other books, this probably being a lot darker in writing.
As I said before, the actress reading this book is fantastic. I really enjoyed her delivery and her timing, as well as her use of using " demon voices" and slight changes to her own voice in representing the other characters, I think she is brilliant and would love to listen to more stories read by her.
In short, by all means if you want to listen to this book case Palahniuk is one of your favourite authors, do it. Otherwise you may just want to skip this title.
But I loved this book. It's insane, gonzo premise. The parallel structure of each chapter. The quirky, highly repetitive narrative. The performance. The characters. Thank goodness (or some other supernatural force) I was not swayed by the other reviews here.
"Classic Chuck Palahnuik is becoming mundane"
Chuck Palahnuik used to be one of my favorite authors. Fight Club, Choke, and Invisible Mosters were all brilliant. But he is using the exact same style in all of his books which is now annoying to me. He needs to move beyond the sexual shock factor and artsy repetition of the same phrase. It was interesting in the Fight Club, but now "I am Jack's complete lack of surprise."
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