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 book reads like a YA novel from hell whose threadbare premise only sporadically entertains. Agent: Edward Hibbert, Donadio & Olson. (Oct. 10)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2013 Release date: 10/08/2013 Genre: Fiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.