Damned, by Chuck Palahniuk, tells the story of Madison who, shortly after her thirteenth birthday, finds herself damned to hell. There, she meets a jock, a geek, a misfit rebel punk and a pretty prom queen kind of girl. Forming hell’s own version of the Breakfast Club, the group makes their way through the land of eternal damnation, while Madison thinks over her life and gives tips on how to cope with hell. Oh, and she also tries to find Satan, with every chapter starting with Are you there, Satan?
I have to admit, I don’t think I’ve ever read a Palahniuk novel I didn’t like. He has a way of drawing you totally into these characters, of sticking you right inside their heads and dragging you along on whatever ride they’re on.
Damned is no exception. Madison’s voice completely takes over, as she describes life and death, her experiences in Hell and before it. The daughter of a famous actress and a producer, Madison lives what many would consider a charmed life. But she reveals the true facts about her short, thirteen years, about how she was sent to boarding school, out of the way of her parents, or how her mother has access to every single house they own, around the world, and torments maids by locking them in toilets.
Palahniuk also has his own unique take on Hell. It’s not just a place of fire and torture, but a place where the old gods roam, where there are seas of nasty, disgusting things and where one can actually sort of make a decent life for themselves, if they so wish. Through Madison’s eyes, we get a real feel for the place, so much so that it’s hard to imagine this not being the standard version of Hell. And, really, how boring must Heaven be, if when the criteria for getting there is so damn strict?
Damned is a wonderfully written, even if it is a bit sick and twisted in parts. Touches of horror, of young adult novels and The Breakfast Club all mixed together to leave you thinking that being damned might not be so bad. Without a doubt, definitely one to read.