Book review: Invisible monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

June 20, 2008

Title: Invisible monsters
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Pages: 297

The author

Chuck Palahniuk (born in February, 1962) is an American novelist and journalist of Ukranian ancestry. He studied journalism at the University of Oregon and worked as a mechanic before becoming a writer.

Chuck’s works are extremely disturbing and usually focus on taboo subjects like sex, violence, drugs, etc. He is best known for Fight Club which was later made into a movie.

The plot

The main character in Invisible monsters is a model, Shannon McFarland. She has a pretty bleak life, her boyfriend Manus is gay and her parents seem to pay more attention to her dead brother than to her. One day she loses most of her face as well as the ability to talk after being shot in the face in a drive-by shooting.

While recuperating in a hospital she runs into a transsexual called Brandy Alexander. She gets along superbly with Brandy, who she looks up to as a saviour. After leaving the hospital Shannon kidnaps her cheating ex-boyfriend and along with Brandy the three of them scam their away across the United States and Canada. Their scam consists of stealing prescription drugs from the houses of the rich that are on sale. While one of them (usually Manus) distracts the realtor Brandy steals drugs from the bathroom cabinets.

The verdict

The story is narrated by Shannon when a badly wounded Brandy asks her to tell her life-story. Shannon does not tell the story chronologically but keeps jumping back and forth in time. The frequent jumps are not at all confusing.

Chuck keeps repeating certain phrases (which he calls ‘choruses’) like ‘Sorry mom, Sorry God’, it gives his prose a certain pleasing rhythm. Chuck’s style is very unconventional; his graphic descriptions are bound to shock you.

The characters feel confined by society and engage in disturbing behaviour in order to rebel against social norms. Although the story is very tragic, Chuck’s characters are so unbelievable that it is hard to pity them.

Invisible monsters was refreshing and interesting but is certainly not recommended for the weak-hearted, religious or decent. This book is so disturbing that Chuck Palahnuik had difficulty finding a publisher.

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