Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Review: Survivor by Chuck Palahiuk

Title: Survivor
Author: Chuck Palahniuk
Genre: Literary Fiction/Satire
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Length: 289 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1st, 1999
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Tender Branson—last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult—is dictating his life story into Flight 2039’s recorder. He is all alone in the airplane, which will crash shortly into the vast Australian outback. But before it does, he will unfold the tale of his journey from an obedient Creedish child to an ultra-buffed, steroid- and collagen-packed media messiah. Unpredictable and unforgettable, Survivor is Chuck Palahniuk at his deadpan peak: a mesmerizing, unnerving, and hilarious satire on the wages of fame and the bedrock lunacy of the modern world.

It's really freaking hard to review satire

That's what I learned while trying to review this novel. I'll fully admit that it's in part because I'm not adept at catching and making meaning of what the author is intending to satirize

In terms of entertainment, Palahniuk does his job well. I was torn between intrigued and shocked at what his mind came up with, and that made for a quick and fascinating read. Mostly, I want to know where he got the idea for this novel. I mean, the way that Tender's story morphs into something ridiculous is masterful, yet it seems to flow so smoothly together that you don't seem to notice when something is about to swerve wildly out of control.

The characterization of Tender is ridiculous. His mind is so different than the way I would ever think, but Palahniuk truly gets inside his brain and the way he puts Tender's thoughts to paper sucks me in so that despite the fact that I absolutely HATE this main character, I still somehow care what happens to him. Gotta say, the audiobook narrator was on the mark as well. 

As I reminded you at the beginning, I'm not very good at targeting that satire. I know that Palahniuk is commenting on the materialism, the celebrity cults, and the emptiness of life, as well as a myriad of other topics. What I'm not sure is whether Palahniuk is criticizing or elevating the nihilistic outlook that Tender holds. 

Yes, I'm a huge fan of the ambiguous ending. No, I didn't catch a lot of the "secrets" at the end of this one. I had to go hunting online. But I liked it. I liked what I found when I read Pahalniuk's statement about what he intended to portray. Would I have gotten it without looking up that statement? Probably not, but the ambiguity was perfect either way. 

So, I'm not sure how to rate this one, but I've randomly decided on 4 stars just because (some kind of Book Analyst I am here, huh?). I don't know why I didn't give it 5 stars, but it definitely stuck with me because of the smooth plot and writing, the pacing, the twisted nature of Tender's mind, and that crazy ending. 

Rating:  7.0 / 10 (4 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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