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Damned Hardcover – October 18, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Damned:

"Palahniuk's 12th novel is just as gleefully, vividly, hilariously obscene as you'd expect —and it's also a hell of a lot of fun. [He] has always been known for his pitch-dark satire, and it's evident here in his depiction of the underworld.... As a young adult novel, it's surprisingly sweet, hopeful and empowering; as a satire, it's funny, irreverent and hugely entertaining. 'Hell is other people,' mused Sartre. Leave it to Chuck Palahniuk to tell us that might not be such a bad thing after all."—Michael Schaub, NPR


"Damned is as lively as a book about the dead can be....the Judy Blume book from hell, just as Mr. Palahniuk intended."—Janet Maslin, the New York Times


"And now, from the Well, What Did You Expect file: Chuck Palahniuk imagines a great hell.  His matter-of-fact underworld is the charming setting of Damned, a...very funny coming-of-age (after-you're-dead) novel....Palahniuk's descriptions of hell are inspired, crafted with great comic flair and the brilliant satirical stipulation that the Christian fundamentalists are right: Hell is literal, dinosaur bones were faked by Satan and among the unspeakable demons slurping about is Robert Mapplethorpe....[A] winning and funny book, and near the end, when Maddie seems to be ascending toward a sequel (Purgatory, anyone?), you'll likely want to read that one, too."—Jess Walter, Washington Post


"Damned is gross, sick, nasty, silly, all the things you want from the merry madman of American letters, Chuck Palahniuk. How can you not be instantly transfixed by an opening like this?: 'Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison. I'm just now arrived here, in Hell, but it's not my fault except for maybe dying from an overdose of marijuana.'
And so begins the kind of goofy, but hypnotically endearing tale of a 13-year-old girl who, completely lost in life, finally starts to discover herself in Palahniuk's demented version of the afterlife....With Damned, [he] opens the fire hose to full bore again, stripping away the veneer on American society and showing us the yucky parts we don't want to see."—Chris Talbot, AP


"...[T]horoughly original...satiric and horrifying, enough so you'll want to repent after you read."—Christian DuChateau, CNN


"Some Fight Club trademarks--youthful disaffection, violence, gross-out humor, a dystopic setting, cultural satire as an extreme sport, a decent helping of third-act pathos--can be seen in...Damned.  Even prepubescent Madison Spencer, the protagonist of Damned, has traits that could be seen as Tyler Durden-esque. She's disaffected from society (i.e., those still alive), she kicks serious butt and is a cultural critic who becomes an unlikely leader....It's hard to pitch the broadly satirical Damned as a useful replacement narrative of life after death, but it's a rollicking adventure of Swiftian proportions, a Valleyfair of the Underworld that, incidentally, shows an overweight teenage girl bringing Satan himself down a peg."—Claude Peck, Minneapolis Star-Tribune


"Damned is typical of Palahniuk's work: a scathing satire that is unfiltered, caustic and smart....[His] descriptions of hell are priceless."—Rege Behe, Pittsburgh Tribune Review


"Even just its first few chapters reveal several layers of satiric humor, social commentary, Grand Guignol violence and heartbreaking insight....The narrator's blend of snark, precocious wit and unconcealed vulnerability and need is a combination as refreshing as the book is hard to put down."—Bill O'Driscoll, Pittsburgh City Paper

About the Author

CHUCK PALAHNIUK’s eleven best-selling novels—Tell-All, Pygmy, Snuff, Rant, Haunted, Lullaby, Fight Club, Diary, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, and Choke—have sold more than five million copies in the United States. He is also the author of Fugitives and Refugees, published as part of the Crown Journey Series, and the nonfiction collection Stranger Than Fiction. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition edition (October 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385533020
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385533027
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #380,917 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chuck Palahniuk's novels are the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Diary, Lullaby, Survivor, Haunted, and Invisible Monsters. Portions of Choke have appeared in Playboy, and Palahniuk's nonfiction work has been published by Gear, Black Book, The Stranger, and the Los Angeles Times. He lives in the Pacific Northwest.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Gaines on November 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The story is told by 13-year-old Madison Spencer, the chubby, unattractive daughter of billionaire parents who has found herself in Hell under the impression that she died from an overdose of marijuana. In the manner of Judy Blume, each chapter begins with a short 'prayer' or journal entry that always begins: "Are you there, Satan? It's me, Madison." In her trek through the Underworld, she meets a group of other eccentric stereotype-ish teens; a Jock, a Nerd, a Hot-Girl and a Punk (think 'The Breakfast Club').

As the book went on, I realized that this is the first of Palahniuk's books to follow a sort of 'adventure' narrative. While in nearly every chapter Madison relays some part of her history on Earth to the reader, a good deal of the tale is a journey of sorts through the landscape of Hell. And who better to give us a vision of the Valley of the Damned than Mr. Palahniuk? His description of Hell is both disgusting and kind of hilarious, with miles of cages for victims (that are easily broken out of), stale candy and popcorn balls strewn everywhere across the ground, and a geography made of every unpleasant human emission imaginable (huge mounds of fingernail clippings, a desert of dandruff, an ocean of fecal matter, a river of steaming-hot saliva, etc.).

The author also entertainingly peppers the story with famous figures who have been condemned and their activities in the afterlife. Madison runs into more than a few tyrannous leaders, celebrities, serial killers and Presidents, among others. The demons are surprisingly apathetic beings who can be sometimes bribed with candy bars to make one's eternal damnation slightly more manageable.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By strwbrrystar on November 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Maybe it's because my expectations of Palahniuk's work have been lowered so much after reading Snuff and Pygmy (didn't even bother with Tell All), but I consider this a decent book. Not his best, but I enjoyed it more than most parts of Haunted. I would give it 3.5 stars. Won't be throwing this one away, at least.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Wednesdayschild on October 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was one of Chuck's better books. I personally enjoyed the sardonic take on religion and popular culture, not that anyone cares. I just felt like coming to the defense of this novel and author, though in the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter what I think. I read some of the other reviews on this book, and kind of feel like people are taking it too seriously. The way it appears is that he wanted to take a Judy Blume novel and ruin it. Judy Blume wasn't the bastion of talent in the history of artistic literary accomplishments, and it's obvious that reviewers who have not been a teenage girl before might not be able to relate to the perspective from which he writes.
Having had the experience of being a teenage girl at one time and reading copious amounts of Judy Blume as pre-teen, I can say comfortably that he pretty much nailed it. He nailed the disdain, the insecurities, the somewhat preserved innocence of early adolescence. The book WAS ridiculous, and hilarious. just as it was intended to be. In short, if you couldn't laugh at some of the things in Damned, you probably have no sense of humor to begin with. It's an excellent poke at the religious fear and zealotry, and ubiquitous and readily available "sins" that saturate and polarize American culture simultaneously. The perspective was a great and unlikely combination of humor and existentialism. He gave an extreme amount of power to a seemingly unlikely heroine in young Madison Spencer. The irony being that our "pop culture" is driven largely by the consumption proclivities in that particular demographic. Think of the Justin Beiber phenomenon. His rise to fame was because of teenage girls, and the parents of those girls whose wallets vomit out the cash that pays for the records and concerts.
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20 of 24 people found the following review helpful By K. OConnor on October 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you haven't bought this book yet, let me sum it up for you and save you the money:

"Are you there Satan?, it's me Madison....."

"Yes I know the word _______, I'm thirteen, not _________"

"No, it's not fair, but ______________________________________"

Honestly, it reads like Palahniuk's "Tell-All" - Oink, meow, moo,..... THE DEVIL. Bark, hiss,splat,.....MY PARENTS SUCKED AND NOW I'M IN HELL (oh, and i'm fat, in case you didn't get that the first 5 times...) Remove the annoying and unnecessary "Chuck-ness" and it's a 92 page novella/short story and NOT a novel (and still not worth your time because the plot goes NOWHERE).

I used to be a pretty big Chuck fan, but no more. He's become way too formulaic, unfunny, and frankly, he's starting to sound like an angry 14 year old who got picked last for dodge ball in gym class. The constant repetition in ALL of his novels (think "I am Jack's _______")gets really annoying - it's unnecessary and it is no longer clever or relevant. Honestly, this book would never have been published if it didn't have a "famous" name attached to it. Palahniuk used to be a somewhat clever and decent story writer, but now he just feels tired and desperate. Save yourself the time and money and pass on this book.
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