Spoiler Free Summary:  Doomed is a story about Madison Spencer, who is dead, but that doesn’t stop her from  posting blogs about her fight with the Devil.  She’s trying to prevent the end of the world, which is pretty hard because everyone seems determined to run toward just that, and they’re doing so in her name.

doomed-paperbackA note on content and content warning.  Not only is this book designed for adults, I must admit that this has some aspects of tone and conduct that strike me the wrong way.  While this affected MY enjoyment of the book, it does not diminish the quality of the writer or it’s narrative.  This is important for me to say because I developed this new review format to be objective.  The reasons I struggled with the book have more to do with my own past and my own issues than it does with why this book might be of interest to other readers.  That said, readers with an aversion to certain sexual situations may want to speak to a friend who’s read this book before reading it themselves.

Character:  Madison is actually a very sympathetic character.  Her situation is tragic for a great many reasons, and as the plot progresses, her story only becomes that much more compelling.  There are a few other cute side characters here and there, but Madison drives this story.   I’m unsure of some of her motivations, and this is an issue because they shift the plot forward when I’m not sure why she’d do such a thing, but the bulk of her actions make up for one issue that may be more a result from having to step away from reading than the actual plot of the book.  Even if there is an issue, it doesn’t degrade Madison’s overall sympathy.    This book is in first-person narrative, and that gives us a lot of insight.  It’s also written in a sort of “blog” style, which is cool to see, and if the reader pays attention, there are some small easter eggs here and there.

Exposition:  This backfired in my opinion.  There are breaks  in this narrative from an alternative perspective.  Those breaks didn’t do much for me in any way, and really only confused me.  It’s not to say that breaks in narrative NEVER work, but to date, I’ve only seen this done well a few times.  I mention it here because those breaks are for exposition.  I comprehend what it’s doing, but all of that information comes back to light in Madison’s narrative.  There isn’t a lot of it, but I don’t know that there needed to be any.

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Photo by Allan Amato.  Image used for the purpose of this review to identify author.

Worldbuilding:  This is a pretty deep world when I consider all the forces working together.  The wolrdbuilding is a strength in this book because everything builds on everything else.  It’s set in modern-day earth, but I’m not talking about the “physical” world.  I’m talking about Madison’s world and how it works.   Each time we gain more understanding in how she exists, we learn more about how the forces against her have been moving.

Dialogue:  The dialogue in this book is crisp and witty.   Madison’s tone is darkly optimistic, and that’s something I enjoyed a lot.  Not all of the dialogue is that good.  Madison’s parents were a lull for me in pretty much any scene they were in, but the dialogue between Madison and her grandmother was amazing.  Each character had a unique voice, and Palahniuk did a great job shifting those tones not from his perspective, but from Madison’s.

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This image is not related to the book in any way, but it was funny, and I already felt nervous about copyright.

Description:  A friend (Hi Woody!) gave me this book because I continue to assert description as a weakness of mine.  In terms of using this book to analyze and practice the art of description in narrative, this book was a great choice.  Palahniuk’s style and description adds a texture to the story that goes beyond just “knowing what was in the scene.”  Where some authors use scene out of obligation, Palahniuk uses it as a tool and even a plot device.  I’m grateful my friend gave me something like this to study.

Overall:  Fans of dark comedy will enjoy this book, though I didn’t find a lot of it funny.  It’s not graphic or controversial (I think) for the sake of shock value, at least not in my opinion. The cliffhanger ending didn’t endear itself to me either.  This book covers a few very important concepts.  The blending of setting, circumstance, and character makes for some very powerful drama.  It’s satirically funny at times and poignantly tragic in others.  Some of the characters frustrated me because I simply don’t find them believable, but Palahniuk works with characters like that.

Thanks for reading

Matt

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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk

  1. Could you include how you got the book in your reviews? ARC for a review? Bought it outright? Or did you get it from the KU library? And then include perceived value? “Was good but not worth the price” etc. Some books I liked with the KU but not if I paid $5.99 for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome review, Matt! I really enjoy the way you are breaking down the content. As an editor, and someone who blogs about writing, it’s most useful to me when reviews are written in this manner.

    I’ve had a love/hate relationship with this author ever since I read, Fight Club, many years ago. Some of his books, like you mentioned, are a bit too intense for me (content wise). I’ve also noticed that I am wish-washy when it comes to this, as sometimes (depending on my mood), his work appeals to me more than others. It’s one reason I always cringe when people ask me to recommend fiction to them. I want to be like, “Well, tell me a little about your emotional state right now and then let me recommend a book.”

    Regardless, thanks for reviewing this book and putting together such a great review. In my study of first-person narrative I might add this to my list. Even if it’s just to study the mechanics he used in the book and steal some of them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, it’s hard when you realize your own personal bias is in the way of a fair critique. Everyone has the right to read ir not read, but so want my reviews to focus on the elements of the story more than hoe I felt. Opinions and reviews that don’t do this tend to say more about the reader than the book.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I absolutely agree with you. And for some people, they enjoy the biased opinion. They find a reviewer who they mesh with, and sponge up all those personal opinions. For me, I read in two ways: for enjoyment and for study.

        When it comes to enjoyment, I try not to look at reviews before I read the book. I try to go into every book with the hopes it will wow me. When it comes to study, reviews like yours are essential. I may not read a book because it’s something I enjoy, but because it’s successful. I want to understand the mechanics the author employed to write a well-written story.

        Sometimes this baffles me (like, how the heck is this popular?), and sometimes I’m able to pull a lot of great information. Your reviews are one place where I know I can get an idea of the mechanics of the book, and that’s essential in my opinion.

        Liked by 1 person

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