Chuck Palahniuk

Book - 2013

"The continued adventures of Madison, the heroine of DAMNED, who escapes Hell and comes back to Earth"--

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New York : Doubleday [2013]
First edition
Physical Description
328 pages ; 22 cm
Main Author
Chuck Palahniuk (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Damned (2011) introduced us to 13-year-old Madison Spencer, newly arrived in Hell after her death; as she tried to figure out what exactly happened to her, she took us on an exciting and often very funny tour of Hell. Now, in the sequel, Madison is back on Earth, stranded there on Halloween, facing the prospect of spending an entire year as (shudder) a ghost among the living. Although not quite as entertaining as Damned—primarily because it lacks the first book's hellish travelogue—the novel nicely continues Madison's story, filling in a lot of the blanks in her life (we find out, for example, the real reason why she's been damned) and exposing an ancient satanic plot that—believe it or not—has poor little Madison at its center. As with the first book, this one lives or dies on the appeal of its teenage narrator. On the face of it, Spencer isn't the most likable of girls: she's self-centered, in-your-face, and almost too aggressively clever for her own good—but so was Holden Caulfield. She's a compelling character, and she drives a novel that will resonate from the get-go with Palahniuk's many fans. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Palahniuk's 12 novels have sold more than five million copies in the U.S. His latest will profit from both traditional print publicity and an extensive social-media campaign. Copyright 2013 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Booklist Reviews

Palahniuk's latest is no Fight Club (1996) or Choke (2001), his two best, but with frequent laughs and a slew of unexpected turns, readers will find in it a certain charm. Our narrator, Madison, a chubby, 13-year-old outcast, awakes in a cell, realizing she is not only dead but also condemned to hell. Chalking her circumstances up to a marijuana overdose, Madison quickly settles in, befriending a sort of "Dead Breakfast Club," complete with "the brain, the jock, the rebel, and the prom queen." Palahniuk's hell, sometimes goofy (The English Patient plays on repeat), sometimes gross-out (mountains of nail clippings and dandruff are commonplace), is a far cry from Dante's—more devilish than hellish. As she chronicles her afterlife (assigned to work as a telemarketer), she recalls her life on earth and, in turn, discovers there was more to her death than smoking marijuana. The story scoots along like any great adventure story, as she takes on Hitler and Catherine de Medici, and it's a delight seeing Madison find her place in life, even if it's in death. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: A seven-city author tour, extensive print and online advertising, and author appearances on national media will round out the robust promotional campaign designed for Palahniuk. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Our heroine returns! Madison Spencer, daughter of misguided movie stars, pudgy outcast, and resident of Hell, finds herself stranded on Earth for one year as punishment for missing her curfew on Halloween. Keeping the reader updated through blog posts from the afterlife, Madison runs into her Nana Minnie's ghost, which stirs her to reveal personal and painful moments from her childhood. As Maddie works through the time she spent with her grandparents in decidedly down-home upstate New York, she realizes her life might have been molded by something sinister from the beginning. All the while, her parents, taking her tongue-in-cheek advice from an accidental phone connection, have begun their own religion. As the world follows her movie star parents, Maddie becomes responsible for sending people to Hell en masse, accidentally upsetting the balance between God and Satan. VERDICT Palahniuk's follow-up to the best-selling Damned does not disappoint. Our eccentric, sharp-witted tween narrator walks the line between hilarity and sorrow throughout. Highly recommended for the author's many fans.—Brooke Bolton, North Manchester P.L., IN [Page 101]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Smart but awkward, chubby Madison gets fried on marijuana and dies the night her Brangelina-like parents are accepting Oscars. She finds herself as one-fifth (the Ally Sheedy) of a new Breakfast Club, this one trapped in Hell rather than detention. Alongside the cheerleader, jock, nerd, and punk, Madison gains confidence battling history's villains and mythology's demons, wandering the bad candy-strewn landscape in search of Satan, whom she has decided is not such a bad guy. She also works as a telemarketer, enticing the diseased to join her in an afterworld that she likes better than life. VERDICT As in Tell-All, Palahniuk takes a high concept and kills it with a meandering plot and an unsatisfying conclusion. His humor occasionally scores, but the best jokes are repeated until they become more annoying than funny. Thirteen-year-old Madison reads like a snarky grad student, while other characters barely register. The oceans of bodily fluids in this Hell could serve as a symbol for Palahniuk's wasted talent. Longtime fans will be left wishing for his return from limbo. [Seven-city tour; see Prepub Alert, 4/11/11.]—Neil Hollands, Williamsburg Regional Lib., VA [Page 86]. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Daughter of a billionaire and a self-absorbed film star, 11-year-old Madison dies of a drug overdose during the Christmas holiday at her Swiss boarding school. She wakes up in hell and soon joins with other adolescent misfits in a sort of afterlife The Breakfast Club (actually referenced), then takes on Satan himself. Palahniuk's always a bit twisted, but while initially this sounded over-the-top funny, a quick look suggests it's more edgy social satire. Will it work? With a seven-city tour. [Page 62]. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

In his less-than-triumphant return to a satiric hell, Palahniuk offers a new installment in the story of Madison Spencer, the snide, overweight, 13-year-old heroine of Damned—who happens to be dead. When a Halloween revenge prank on some of Madison's living tormenters goes wrong, Satan consigns the erudite and opinionated teen to roam the Earth, invisibly haunting the places and people she once knew. During her wanderings she tries to sort out her relationship with her celebrity parents, who since her death have fallen prey to sinister influences and begun a cult of vulgar self-expression. Madison's homecoming further leads her to revisit some pivotal pre-death experiences, from an eventful trip to upstate New York that ended in tragedy and damnation to her strained relationship with her oblivious parents. But Madison is special: she is stuck in purgatory for a reason, which may be nothing less than the salvation of the entire world. At the heart of the rollicking story is a girl's relationship with her parents, but Palahniuk embroiders the tale with myriad poop jokes and gratuitous vulgarity with scant comedic value. Meanwhile, his usually acute apothegms sound strained through Madison's artificial voice. While Palahniuk's fans will surely be pleased, the books reads like a YA novel from hell whose threadbare premise only sporadically entertains. Agent: Edward Hibbert, Donadio & Olson. (Oct. 10) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Move over, Dante, there's a new tour guide to hell: Madison Spencer, the 13-year-old narrator of Palahniuk's cliché-ridden latest bulletin of phoned-in outrage. After self-asphyxiating, Madison wakes up in hell and quickly finds, as she's put to work prank-calling people at dinnertime, that her new home is not much different from Saturday detention in The Breakfast Club. Embarking on a field trip with some new friends, Madison fights demons, raises an army of the dead, and storms the gates of Satan's citadel. At the same time, she flashes back to her unhappy life as the daughter of a self-absorbed movie star mother and a financial tycoon father who collect Third World orphans. Unfortunately, Palahniuk's hell turns out to be a familiar place, filled with long lines, celebrities, dictators, mass murderers, lawyers, and pop culture references and jokes repeated until they are no longer funny. In the end, the author seems to be saying that the real hell is the banality of our earthly lives, an observation that itself seems a little too banal to power this work of fiction. (Oct.) [Page ]. Copyright 2010 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A follow-up to the best-selling Damned continues the afterlife adventures of snarky Madison Spencer, who wanders Earth as a ghostly spirit in search of her do-gooding celebrity parents while fighting the influence of Satan, encountering her grandfather at a fetid highway rest stop and confronting her destiny on a plastic Pacific continent known as Madlantis.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Madison Spencer, the liveliest and snarkiest dead girl in the universe, continues the afterlife adventure begun in Chuck Palahniuk’s bestsellerDamned. Just as that novel brought us a brilliant Hell that only he could imagine,Doomed is a dark and twisted apocalyptic vision from this provocative storyteller.The bestselling Damned chronicled Madison’s journey across the unspeakable (andreally gross) landscape of the afterlife to confront the Devil himself. But her story isn’t over yet. In a series of electronic dispatches from the Great Beyond,Doomed describes the ultimate showdown between Good and Evil.After a Halloween ritual gone awry, Madison finds herself trapped in Purgatory—or, as mortals like you and I know it, Earth. She can see and hear every detail of the world she left behind, yet she’s invisible to everyone who’s still alive. Not only do people look right through her, they walk right through her as well. The upside is that, no longer subject to physical limitations, she can pass through doors and walls. Her first stop is her parents’ luxurious apartment, where she encounters the ghost of her long-deceased grandmother. For Madison, the encounter triggers memories of the awful summer she spent upstate with Nana Minnie and her grandfather, Papadaddy. As she revisits the painful truth of what transpired over those months (including a disturbing and finally fatal meeting in a rest stop’s fetid men’s room, in which . . . well, never mind), her saga of eternal damnation takes on a new and sinister meaning. Satan has had Madison in his sights from the very beginning: through her and her narcissistic celebrity parents, he plans to engineer an era of eternal damnation. For everyone.Once again, our unconventional but plucky heroine must face her fears and gather her wits for the battle of a lifetime. Dante Alighieri, watch your back; Chuck Palahniuk is gaining on you.