December 5, 2013

Review: Doomed (Damned #2)

Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk
Age Group: Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Release Date: October 8, 2013
Buy Links:

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Book Description:

Madison Spencer, the liveliest, snarkiest dead girl in the universe, continues the adventures in the afterlife begun in Damned. 

Having somewhat reluctantly escaped from Hell, she now wanders the Purgatory that is Earth as a ghostly spirit, seeking her do-gooding celebrity parents, fighting the malign control of Satan, recounting the disgracefully funny (to us, anyway) encounter with her grandfather in a fetid highway rest stop in upstate New York when she...

oh, never mind, and climaxing in a rendezvous with destiny on the new, totally plastic continent in the Pacific called, not at all accidentally, Madlantis.

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I almost didn't even bother with Chuck Palahniuk's new book, "Doomed.” The last book of his that I actively enjoyed was "Rant” and there's been four other books between that and "Doomed.” His earlier works are some of my favorite books ("Invisible Monsters" being high on the list), but I seem to just be tolerating his newer stuff.

After his last book, "Damned,” I wasn't running to the bookstore like I normally did for a Palahniuk release. While most (okay, ALL) of his books are weird, "Damned" was just gross. It relied mainly on crass humor and gross out factors that only seem to impress prepubescent boys, and it was difficult for me to get through. If it wasn't for the 30% off sticker on the cover of "Doomed,” I might have just skipped it entirely.

"Doomed" is the sequel to "Damned” and this is actually the first time that Palahniuk has tried his hand at creating a series. The series follows a 13-year-old girl, Madison Spencer, as she dies, goes to Hell, and then escapes from Hell. That is where "Doomed" picks up, with Madison back in the real world, this time as a ghost. She sees that there is a new religion that seems to have the attention of everyone, and she's at the heart of it.

The progression of the book is Madison trying to make it back to her parents so she can undo this new religion (Boorism), and try to save everyone from ending up in Hell. That is, what little progression there is, to this book. Instead of moving Madison's story forward, the majority of "Doomed" is the telling of her back-story and all of the events that led up to her dying and ending up in Hell.

Normally, I wouldn't haven problem with a bit of back-story, in fact I welcome the opportunity to get to know characters better. However, this is the second book in a series, and the back-story has already been written. Besides a few anecdotes (including a cringe-worthy scene in a public rest stop), the information is all stuff we've already learned if we read "Damned.” As a second book in a trilogy, I would have expected more forward motion, but instead, most of my time was spent in the past.

This book is told through Madison's blog entries. While the blogging didn't bother me stylistically, I didn't see the point. Madison is on a journey to stop her parents from continuing the fledging religion, but she's going to take the time to write all about her time spent upstate and the story of her now-dead cat? It seemed forced to me, like Palahniuk was just trying to push another envelope and show that he's still ‘hip’ and ‘edgy’.

Madison herself does bug me though. The character just doesn't do anything for me. And since this book mainly dealt with her past, there was no real supporting cast like we saw in "Damned" that I could use to distract myself from how little I liked her. She's a self-important child, who thinks she knows everything about everything, and is too stubborn to listen to anyone else. Sometimes I found myself nodding off because I just couldn't bring myself to care enough about her to want to keep turning the pages.

While I did enjoy "Doomed" a little better than its predecessor (mostly because this one toned down the grossness), I'm not a big enough fan to bring myself to recommend it. If you want something twisted to read, check out some of Palahniuk's earlier work instead. 

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Author Bio:

Charles Michael "Chuck" Palahniuk is an American Transgressional fiction novelist and freelance journalist of Ukrainian ancestry born in Pasco, Washington. The press release for his book, Rant, states he is now living in Vancouver, Washington. He is best known for the award-winning novel Fight Club, which was later made into a film directed by David Fincher.

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