'Doomed' Review: Chuck Palahniuk Goes to Hell and Back in Strong New Novel

'Doomed' Review: Chuck Palahniuk Goes to Hell and Back in Strong New Novel

Chuck Palahniuk, author of Fight Club, writes like no other writer–that includes living or dead.

There are many talented storytellers with strong voices and originality, but it can be tough to find a writer that seems to construct sentences and phrases together in a way so unique that you are sure what you are reading will never be successfully mimicked.

After writing numerous novels, you would think that this strange and unique style of Palahniuk’s would have grown thin and tired. I’m happy to report it hasn’t. Doomed certainly isn’t his finest work, but damn this guy can write.

Doomed is the sequel to Palahniuk’s Damned from a few years back. It’s a fantasy yarn where the main character, named Madison Spencer, finds herself in a sort of purgatory when she misses her curfew in Hell. Let me back up. Spencer is a young, overweight girl that died a while back and ended up in Hell. When she is released from Hell to gather candy (for whatever reason everyone is Hell has to do this once a year), she misses her curfew and is stuck in a purgatory-like state on Earth. She meets her dead grandmother, finds out her parents have created a new “religion” and delves into the past realizing she may have a destiny more important than she thinks. 

It’s not Palahniuk’s finest hour when it comes to story. Choke was about a sex addict that chokes himself in restaurants to connect to people, Snuffed was about a porn star trying to break a world record for “pleasing” the most men on film before dying, Fight Club was about … you get the picture. These are original stories that border on brilliant and have become a staple for Palahniuk’s work … at least for me. Doomed dives a little far into the fantasy and generic in its overall tale.

Another problem I had with the novel (which I give credit as being an original move) is the fact that each chapter is written as a blog by the main character. It was a little strange for the first third of the book and felt like a cheap way for Palahniuk to make the work relevant, but you get used to it after awhile.

What this novel is not missing is the Palahniuk touch. His writing is just as original and poetic and funny and tragic and brilliant as his other books. It’s what saves this one. No one can quite string together words like good ol’ Chuck. He has a way of making his sentences roll off your tongue so the tickling sensation is completely new. Try reading his books out loud to yourself. You’ll see what I mean.

Palahniuk is one of the finest writers of his generation, and Doomed doesn’t work against that notion. It’s not his best, but nowhere else will you find writing or insight or situations even close to the imagination of Palaniuk. Like all other Chuck books, Doomed is worth it.