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.
A 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.
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.
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