As an introduction: Beware reader, for “Doomed” is not for the faint-hearted. It will take you right out of your comfort zone and probe your brain with gut-wrenching images and stunning metaphor, as should be expected coming from the pen of Chuck Palahniuk. After all, it is a wildly satirical depiction of hell from a young teen’s point of view.
Palahniuk resurrects the post-dead, overweight, condemned 13-year-old Madison Spencer in her afterlife antics. As a sequel to the book “Damned,” we are gifted with the familiar cast of snarky, deceased “Breakfast Club” characters who are as endearing as the eternally banished can be as they follow Madison’s on-Earth journey as a ghost.
In her return from Hades, Madison Desert Flower Rosa Parks Coyote Trickster Spencer finds herself stuck in limbo after a Halloween haunting at her Swiss boarding school goes awry. Albeit a break from hell, Maddy’s journey on Earth as a ghost is arduous. She resurfaces only to find that her parents have started a post-apocalyptical religion, Boorism, based on some bad advice she provides from the beyond, and hell is filling up fast. Madison’s parents have concocted a plastic island the size of a small country, and hundreds of Boorites are wasting away there, hoping to find salvation only to be doomed to join the now overpopulated hell.
In her attempt to save the souls of her parents and everyone else they affected, Madison finds she must mediate the final showdown between God and Satan and somehow negotiate the safety of her deceased cat. Though she is less than thrilled at the idea of adjudicating the final battle, Madison rises to the occasion in this well-crafted but gruesome satire on American life.
Having read the final line of “Damned” — “To be continued ...” — I was anxious to pick up where I left off and to follow our chubby antagonist once again. Instead of letters to Satan, Palahniuk constructs this novel as blog posts written from Madison’s PDA and captures the voice of a 13-year-old self-conscious child of pill-popping parents as only he could. If you are looking for a book that will both disgust you and bring you to rolling laughter, this is the novel for you. Whether it be flashbacks on Madison’s pre-dead life or her rompings on Earth, “Doomed” was an incredibly rewarding read. Palahniuk most certainly challenges the norms in his writing and takes you on a wild ride. Though this book is a sequel, it is not necessary to read “Damned” to enjoy “Doomed,” but it is recommended.
Personally, I give this book two thumbs up and encourage ambitious readers to give Palahniuk a try. He will no doubt test your stomach and hook your attention with his witty sense of humor and craftsmanship of prose. This series is quickly heading to the top of my favorite books and you will certainly see me jumping at the first mentions of the next book. Now to fill the void with another book. ...
• “Doomed” by Chuck Palahniuk was published in October by Doubleday. It retails for $24.95.
• Randi Valdez works at Inklings Bookshop. She and other Inklings staffers review books in this space each week.