Yep, it's true. Chuck Palahniuk is back and, in a way, back to basics. Unlike his post-Fight Club flops like Snuff, Palahniuk's new Damned takes the sarcasm of a middle-aged critic and throws in - what else - references to Judy Blume.
Damned's snarky thirteen-year-old protagonist, Madison, has spent her life basically in hell with a film star mommy and big time producer daddy, and therefore can't wait to get to the real place, the big 'ol pit of fire underneath with her fave celebrity - Satan. Palahniuk burns the reader with as many references to pop culture as possible, but the plot actually works. In general, the story flows well with Madison's sardonic voice and point of view. She sees Hell as living up to its potential, and has a few things to say regarding its unholier-than-thou reputation. "The Exorcist," for example, and the food spewing antics of a one creepy young lady. "It's weird to think that as recently as the 1970s, religious leaders were throwing holy water on adolescent girls with eating disorders," Madison ponders.
Palahniuk isn't completely off the hook, however. He still loses interest a bit towards the end and runs out of new jokes. He tries to throw in the same humor, which doesn't even get an eye-roll from the reader. But overall, Damned is definitely worth the read.
New York Times writer, Janet Maslin, offers the perfect review. Read it here.