{Audiobook Review} Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk (Alternate Title: Chuck Palahniuk’s Books Are All Kinds of Strange)

invisible monstersWhen it came to titles of this post, I had no idea what to write. I’ve read Chuck Palahniuk in the past and I always think that the next book I pick up will be normal, or tame, or … something. But I’m coming to learn one thing.

Chuck Palahniuk is all kinds of weird. And man are his books f***** up.

Really, there’s no other way to say it.

I didn’t actually intend on listening ot a book by Chuck Palahniuk. I thought I might start a new Neil Gaiman, but Hoopla didn’t have ANY of his books to listen to (and really, that is all kinds of wrong!), so I randomly scrolled through the titles and picked Invisible Monsters. It looked like it might be a lot less strange than his other two books I’ve read. Haunted, which was awesome, but super gory. Then Pygmy, which … well, Pygmy was a crazy book. Not for the faint of heart. I still have stomach aches from that one.

Frankly, based on those two books, I knew that what Palahniuk had to offer was going to be an odd one, but this one sounded normal — a former model who gets into an accident befriends someone who helps her recreate herself.

Not bad, right?

I kind of fell in love with this one right off the bat and I think the narrator had something to do with it. She sounded like a combination of the girl who played Georgia in Dead Like Me and Ellen Degeneres and was kind of snarky and I liked it. She made the main character sound like someone you could totally be friends with because you knew they were going to tell you things straight up and not sugarcoat anything.

Of course, that’s what you think. What actually is is that the main character had her jaw blown off and looks like you would “if you got the cherry pie in the pie eating contest.” After I finished the story, I still had no idea how to picture this character. A former model with no jaw, a lolling tongue, and skin tissue hanging all around. The cover of the book is actually kind of clever since it shows the model with that spattering of red in the face, which you would assume is poorly applied lipstick, but instead is a neat way to show what the character looks like without actually showing what the character looks like.

Anyway, when you think this new friend of yours can tell you how it is, they really can’t because they can’t talk. This is illustrated throughout the book with gobbledegook (can I actually pull that word off in a review?!) — awesomely narrated on the audiobook. We spend a lot of time with her narrating, so it’s always crazy to have those reminders that she can’t actually talk.

And aside from her character, everyone in the book definitely has their own story. My favourite characters had to be the main character’s parents. There were a few scenes with them that had me busting a gut! Everyone had a story and everything was so twisted and sometimes confusing — but it all was amazingly tied up in the end that I didn’t even see it coming.

I kind of loved how the whole story was told, too. It’s not told as a series of events that happen in order. Instead, we’re jumping back, jumping ahead, and you would think it would be totally confusing, but I was pretty surprised that I managed to keep track of everything and have no problem jumping back into the audio after not listening for a few days. Palahniuk wrote a story and characters that I could really understand and get into when I was listening, even if I only had 20 minutes to listen. Not only that, but with a story that has its unbelievably gory moments (really, you’d have to listen to it to find out — there were times I was very thankful I wasn’t eating while listening), it’s full of so much heart! You really wouldn’t think that, but the last ten minutes of the book had me hooked and I just had to sit and listen. In fact, this whole story despite all of its craziness made me want to listen … and I rarely listen to audiobooks these days.

Seriously, this book was amazingly good. If you can stomach the gruesome parts in it, you’ll probably fall in love with the story like I did. Yeah, not all of the characters are likable, but that’s a good thing. Now that I’m finished, I definitely need to read more of his stuff. I never thought I’d like Palahniuk’s work, but with every book I read, I realize how awesome he is.

Have you read anything by Chuck Palahniuk? Are you in agreement that he’s just plain weird? 

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BOOK REVIEW: Pygmy, by Chuck Palahniuk

RELEASE DATE: May 5, 2009
AUTHOR LINKS: WEB / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
PUBLISHER: Doubleday
FORMAT: Paperback
SOURCE: Purchased
BUY NOW FROM: Amazon

“Begins here first account of operative me, agent number 67 on arrival midwestern American airport greater _____ area. Flight _____. Date _____. Priority mission top success to complete. Code name: Operation Havoc.”

Thus speaks Pygmy, one of a handful of young adults from a totalitarian state sent to the United States, disguised as exchange students, to live with typical American families and blend in, all the while planning an unspecified act of massive terrorism. Palahniuk depicts Midwestern life through the eyes of this thoroughly indoctrinated little killer, who hates Americans with a passion, in this cunning double-edged satire of a xenophobia that might, in fact, be completely justified.

MY REVIEW

I’m not even sure where to begin with this novel. The first book I had ever read by Chuck Palahniuk was Haunted, which wasn’t the most fantastic book that I’ve read, but it was fun and delightfully gruesome. After reading that one, I was hooked on the author and went out and bought a few of his other books. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: Haunted, by Chuck Palahniuk

RELEASE DATE: May 3, 2005
AUTHOR LINKS: WEB / GOODREADS / FACEBOOK
PUBLISHER: Doubleday (an imprint of Random House)
FORMAT: Hardcover
SOURCE: Purchased
BUY NOW FROM: Amazon

Haunted is a novel made up of twenty-three horrifying, hilarious, and stomach-churning stories. They’re told by people who have answered an ad for a writer’s retreat and unwittingly joined a “Survivor”-like scenario where the host withholds heat, power, and food. As the storytellers grow more desperate, their tales become more extreme, and they ruthlessly plot to make themselves the hero of the reality show that will surely be made from their plight. This is one of the most disturbing and outrageous books you’ll ever read, one that could only come from the mind of Chuck Palahniuk.

MY REVIEW (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS) 

I have heard so many great things about Chuck Pahlaniuk that one day, many years ago, I bought his book Haunted. Years passed and I still hadn’t opened the darn thing. Instead, I decided to wait until the day where I felt inclined to grab it off the shelf, walk away from the books (since it’s so easy for me to change my mind), and just start reading.

I don’t want to say that I was disappointed, but I kind of was. Don’t get me wrong – I really loved Pahlaniuk’s writing and hope to get into another book I have of his, Lullaby, sometime soon. What got me was that I read so many reviews where people were squirming in their seats and it was really only the first chapter that did that for me.

In my eyes, the first chapter is what sets up the rest of the book—it has to be enough to grab me so I can keep reading. The first chapter of Haunted definitely got me. I was quite happy that I wasn’t eating at the time, but after that, the book just didn’t have the same effect. It was a decent book, full of aspiring writers who are at a sort of writing camp. Little did they know that they were going to be kidnapped by a madman who wants them to write the best story of their life.

I kind of felt that the finger and toe chopping happened a little early that as the book progressed, I wondered what was going to happen next. Well, even though the stories written by the kidnapped (24 chapters in total, 23 “stories” written by characters in the book, along with an accompanying poem) seemed to get a little tame after the first chapter, what actually went on in the house started to make me squirm again—I don’t want to completely give it away, but it has to do with the “below the belt” area and very sharp objects.

I was happy to finish reading Haunted, but I did leave feeling intrigued by Pahlaniuk’s writing. I can’t wait to give more of his work a try. Haunted did a great job of taking seemingly ordinary people and showing the reader their dark side—as a reader, you start the book just knowing their nickname and then you’re slowly taken into the story of “why” behind that name. Of course, there’s not only the gory and gruesome, there are also some very hilarious moments. Someone hacking off their manhood, only to have someone else eat it and choke on it, leaving both characters dead, was just a funny part to read.

Thanks for reeling me in, Chuck Pahlaniuk!