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Invisible Monsters: A Novel Paperback – September 17, 1999
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Um, yeah. Anyway, the Hollywood vibe doesn't stop these comparisons. As with Fight Club and Survivor, the book is invested with a cinematic sweep, from the opening set piece, which takes off like a house afire (literally), to a host of filmic tics sprayed throughout the text: "Flash," "Jump back," "Jump way ahead," "Flash," "Flash," "Flash." You get the idea. It's as if Palahniuk didn't write the thing but yanked it directly out of the Cineplex of his mind's eye. Does it succeed? Mostly. Still working on measuring out the proper dosages of his many writerly talents (equal parts potent imagery, nihilistic coolspeak, and doped-out craziness), Palahniuk every now and then loosens his grip on the story line, which at points becomes as hard to decipher as your local pill addict's medicine cabinet. However Invisible Monsters works best on a roller-coaster level. You don't stop and count each slot on the track as you're going down the big hill. You throw up your hands and yell, "Whee!" --Bob Michaels
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
In a zany prose reminiscent of Candace Bushnell's 'Sex In The City' and the surrealism of Bret Easton Ellis's works, Palahniuk has written a twisted and sick tale of disfigurement, love, hate, and fashion here in Invisible Monsters.
Shannon McFarland's career as a picture perfect model was ruined the day her lower jaw was shot off while she was driving down the freeway. Her best friend Evie Cottrell steals all her clothing while she is in the hospital, and her fiancé Manus Kelley leaves her; but during her speech therapy classes she meets the enigma that is Brandy Alexander.
Brandy befriends Shannon, and together with friend Seth Thomas they set off on a wild cross country tour, viewing high end estates up for sale and stealing all of the prescription drugs from them. But believe me when I say, nothing is as it seems in this crazy story. You are in for several very big surprises.
Invisible Monsters is a book that is not about the plot, it is about the characters, and yet there are twists upon twists upon twists every turn of the page. Who is Brandy Alexander? Who is Shannon McFarland? Who is Seth Thomas? And who is Evie Cottrell? You'll just have to keep reading. Like me, you will probably wind out not caring about any of them, but they are going to make you laugh out loud with their outrageous plans and antics.
You'll have tears running down your face when Shannon's parents (in a flashback scene before her disfigurement) give her nothing but condoms for Christmas because her brother died of AIDS. And the conversation around the Thanksgiving table turns to graphic depictions of hinder romping while they cower in unnecessary fear because they support AIDS families. Be thankful these are not your parents.
Told oddly in a profusion of scene jumping, using the written word like flash photography, Palahniuk has written a psychotically offbeat tale that nonetheless will have you turning pages as rapidly as Brandy pops vicodin and estrogen. I found it strangely enjoyable and morbidly compelling, and if you like screwy and disgusting stories, you will most likely love Invisible Monsters. Enjoy!
This book is about people who want to be someone else-anyone other than themselves. The narrator says upfront that this is not going to be a linear story. It will jump from here to there. And it does. It's a hodgepodge of fragments that you have to piece together. When you do so, what you see is twisted. A former beauty queen who had half of her face shot off, along with a transvestite who wants to be a beauty queen, and a not-so-by-the-book cop are on a road trip, visiting upscale homes during open houses, stealing drugs from the medicine cabinets, and selling them to kids on the street. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.
If there's one thing for which Palahniuk will never be criticized, it's being predictable. Still, there's predictability to his chaos. He has a formula: pick a target (in this case the fashion world), scrounge together some psychopaths, come up with a twisted plot with a handful of shocking surprises, chop is up so it's out of chronological order, and invent a couple of writing devices to help tell the story. The only problem is, once you've seen one freak show, the next one isn't quite as freaky. Once you've met a few Palahniuk characters, the psychotic becomes commonplace. Once you've experienced one or two Palahniuk endings, the next one isn't as surprising. Once you get used to the style and devices, they start to wear on you. (Remember in Fight Club, his "This is Jack's..."? He uses similar devices in this book. Repeatedly. Over and over again.) And although his voice is strong, it never varies from character to character. I always hear Tyler Durden, regardless of who the narrator is supposed to be. Finally, he explores the same themes over and over in his books (Identity, our conflicted selves, our struggle to break out of our modern homogenized lives). There's nothing wrong with this if he does it in a different way, but it adds to the feeling that you've been down this road and heard this story before.
So it comes back to the characters. You never really care about a Palahniuk character. They're not sympathetic. So you hope for insanity. Just so they're interesting. The more messed up, the more shocking and disturbing their actions, the better. And don't get me wrong: Invisible Monsters definitely has its moments. But it doesn't live up to Fight Club or Choke. I'd start there. If you've already read those and liked them, and would like more of the same, then maybe Invisible Monsters is a good book for you.