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Invisible Monsters [Paperback]

Chuck Palahniuk
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (221 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 1999
Love, betrayal, petty larceny, and high fashion fuel this deliciously comic novel from the author of Fight Club and Survivor. The fashion-model protagonist of Invisible Monsters has just about everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But one day she's driving along the freeway when a sudden "accident" leaves her with half her face, no ability to speak, and next to no self-esteem. From being the beautiful center of attention she becomes an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge she exists. Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from becoming a real woman; Brandy will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing the past and making up something better. And that salvation hides in the last places you'll ever want to look.

In this hilarious and daringly unpredictable novel, the narrator must exact revenge upon Evie, her best friend and fellow model; kidnap Manus, her two-timing ex-boyfriend; and hit the road with Brandy in search of a brand-new past, present, and future. Changing names and stories in every city, they catapult toward a final confrontation with a rifle-toting Evie--by which time the narrator will have learned that loving and being loved are not mutually exclusive, and that nothing, on the surface, is ever quite what it seems.

By turns witty, poignant, and exhilarating, Invisible Monsters will take you on a ride you'll never forget.

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Invisible Monsters + Choke + Survivor
Price For All Three: CDN$ 37.50

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From Amazon

When the plot of your first novel partially hinges on anarchist overthrows funded by soap sales, and the narrative hook of your second work is the black box recorder of a jet moments away from slamming into the Australian outback, it stands to reason that your audience is going to be ready for anything. Which, to an author like Chuck Palahniuk, must sound like a challenge. Palahniuk's third identity crisis (that's "novel" to you), Invisible Monsters, more than ably responds to this call to arms. Set once again in an all-too-familiar modern wasteland where social disease and self-hatred can do more damage than any potboiler-fiction bad guy, the tale focuses particularly on a group of drag queens and fashion models trekking cross-country to find themselves, looking everywhere from the bottom of a vial of Demerol to the end of a shotgun barrel. It's a sort of Drugstore Cowboy-meets-Yentl affair, or a Hope-Crosby road movie with a skin graft and hormone-pill obsession, if you know what I mean.

Um, yeah. Anyway, the Hollywood vibe doesn't stop these comparisons. As with Fight Club and Survivor, the book is invested with a cinematic sweep, from the opening set piece, which takes off like a house afire (literally), to a host of filmic tics sprayed throughout the text: "Flash," "Jump back," "Jump way ahead," "Flash," "Flash," "Flash." You get the idea. It's as if Palahniuk didn't write the thing but yanked it directly out of the Cineplex of his mind's eye. Does it succeed? Mostly. Still working on measuring out the proper dosages of his many writerly talents (equal parts potent imagery, nihilistic coolspeak, and doped-out craziness), Palahniuk every now and then loosens his grip on the story line, which at points becomes as hard to decipher as your local pill addict's medicine cabinet. However Invisible Monsters works best on a roller-coaster level. You don't stop and count each slot on the track as you're going down the big hill. You throw up your hands and yell, "Whee!" --Bob Michaels

From Publishers Weekly

Palahniuk's grotesque romp aims to skewer the ruthless superficiality of the fashion world and winds up with a tale as savagely glib as what it derides. Narrator Shannon McFarland, once a gorgeous fashion model, has been hideously disfigured in a mysterious drive-by shooting. Her jaw has been shot off, leaving her not only bereft of a career and boyfriend, but suddenly invisible to the world. Along comes no-nonsense, pill-popping diva Brandy Alexander, a resplendent, sassy, transgendered chick, who has modeled her body rearrangement--the breast implants, the hair, the figure--on what Shannon used to look like. Brandy suggests veils, high camp and no self-pity. Shannon wants revenge[...] Adding to the plot's contrivances are the relentless flashbacks, heralded at the beginning of almost every paragraph with "Jump back to..." and the author's pretentious device of using a fashion photographer's commands ("Flash. Give me adoration. Flash. Give me a break") to signpost the narrator's epiphanies. Palahniuk writes like he's overdosed on Details magazine. Though the absurd surprise ending may incite groans of disbelief, this book does have fun moments when campy banter tops the heroine's flat, whiny bathos. (Sept.) FYI: The film of Palahniuk's novel Fight Club will star Brad Pitt.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Palahniuk delivers the twist Jan. 22 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Well-written, fast-paced, really interesting. There are a few times that this book gets a bit difficult to follow, but you can make your way through. It's great on the second read-through, too. If you like Palahniuk and you haven't read this one yet, pick it up.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Paluhniuk fans beware. Aug. 8 2012
By K. Ketz
Maybe I am just out-growing Palahniuk, but this book fell flat for me. It doesn't have that sickly entertaining spark that his other books seem to hold so well. As most of the 2-star reviews tell you, it is actually pretty boring. You figure out the twists pretty early on and the rest is just filler. I feel that I am marking Palahniuk too hard here, as he is still so much better than most fictional writers today, but comparing this to his other works I can't give it a good review. I wouldn't suggest it if you are generally a fan of this author.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not so invisibly good Jan. 23 2007
The writing style is unlike any I have ever read; brutally honest, slightly surreal, and hilarious all at the same time. The closest you'll come is probably "Katzenjammer" by McCrae or some of Bukowski's works ("Post Office"). Still nothing compares to MONSTERS. You don't know whether to laugh or cry or be horrified, but you do know you want to find out what happens next. I had no trouble at all with the inconsecutive style; it keeps you on your toes and forces you to piece together a very bizarre puzzle. Is it weird? Yes. Is it gruesome at times? Yes. Does it push your sensitivities to the limit? Yes. And isn't that what we want in a book? I know I do. A novel about a model who agonizes and depresses over a drive-by hitting her, shattering her jawbone and disabling her speech and career. She loses all hope and travels down the wrong path of life for the next year. The story is about that year, with her fiance leaving and sleeping with her best friend, to her parents freakingly denying her brothers death years ago, dead of aids. She tumbles and twists to tell you this tale and the classic voice of Chuck Palahniuk screams through, unraveling the creativeness he always has been good at. Read this novel. Would also recommend the novels "Lullaby" and "Katzejammer: Soon to be a major motion picture." While excellent though, nothing compares to Mr. P's works. Check them out first.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A surprise at every turn July 17 2004
By Amanda
After a read (and loved ... thanks evan) Survivor, i though this author would be one of those authors who wouldn't keep my interest for very long. YOu know what I mean, the shocking the distrubing and eventually ... the boring. but no. This one held up. This book was on my shelf for a long time until I actually picked it up, but I was so glad i did.
It's such an easy read. i found myself chapters into it before I knew it. I really enjoied this book.
and yes there is a but. Some may not 'get it', some people of a certain mindset, who may not understand the opposite sex, or human nature may not understand it and think it just a story about a vain lady. then that's the case, it may help you understand the opposite sex or human nature more, or ... if you're boyond the point of understanding and just don't care ... well ... you woudn't be looking up Chuck Paliniuk book now would you.
So, all in all. Great. Thumbs way up!
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5.0 out of 5 stars You either love it or you hate it March 5 2004
Invisible Monsters, is by far, one of the greatest books to exist on the surface of this planet. Unfortunately, there is no in between with this book. I have bought this book for everyone who knows how to read and there have been only two reactions. You either hate it or you love it. It really depends on the type of person you are. If you're an intelligent, open-minded person who is looking for a book with depth and layers, then this is the book for you. If you're the type of person that's looking for a simple story that you don't have to think about, try a different book.
Truth is, the first time you read this book, you really need to be paying attention. Nothing in this book is without purpose. Everything is there for a reason. I recommend buying this book, waiting till you have a few hours (however long it takes for you to read about 280 pages) and read it from cover to cover in one sitting. Then I suggest you read it again. I've read this book well over twenty times. Everytime I read the book there seems to be a part I don't remember reading the last time. As the book says "No matter how careful you are there's going to be the sense you missed something, the collapsed feeling under your skin that you didnt experience it all. There's that fallen heart feeling that you rushed right through the moments where you should've been paying attention. Well, get used to that feeling. That's how your whole life will feel some day."
The book opens your eyes to a new point of view, to keep you looking forward. As one of the most remarkable characters to hit print says "Tell me your sad-assed story all night. When you understand, that what you're telling is just a story. It isn't happening anymore. When you realize the story you're telling is just words, when you can just crumble it up and throw your past in the trashcan, then we'll figure out who you're going to be."
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2.0 out of 5 stars Invisible Monsters Feb. 22 2004
Give me a cheap literary trick.
Give me redundancy.
Oh, Chuck, why do you do this to yourself? You find a neat little saying, a nice trick, a clever play of words and then you ram it into the ground until what's left is beyond dead, beyond interesting, beyond taste. Pile on sex, drugs and twists-a-plenty and you have Invisible Monsters.
The story is reasonable, I suppose. Definitely enough there to keep the page turning. A mildly successful model has had half of her face shot off, by her best friend, her ex-fiance, who knows? She has to learn to cope with being horribly ugly, a monster. She meets up with a pre-op trans-sexual and they have adventures together, stealing drugs from people's homes with another friend.
But the twists are ridiculous. We are shown various tid-bits of the mostly nameless narrator's life and every single character brought into the story ends up twisting and turning about until they are all in this tight little web of lies. The problem is that life isn't like that. People can disappear from your life and never, ever show up. They can appear, change your life in a certain way, then disappear, and then resurface years too late. But they don't become ever single focal point of your entire adult life. Everyone you meet is not directly affected by and affecting every other person you meet. Life just doesn't work like that, but in Chuck's world, it does. Which makes for some not very believable writing.
The characters are all one dimensional caricatures. Perhaps that is the point, and I think it is, but it leaves me unsatisfied. I honestly couldn't imagine a single one of these characters living outside the fairly tedious storyline. They couldn't breathe and live on their own, they don't have enough substance.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Classic Palahniuk save gender issues
As the title says, this novel is pretty consistent with a lot of Palahniuk's work (of which I've read most). A really absurd story with unique characters, and surprising twists. Read more
Published on May 14 2009 by A. Taylor
1.0 out of 5 stars Jump to boring
I'm not going to waste a lot of time analysing this book, because lots of others have slammed its ridiculous style and premise, not to mention its revolting twist. Read more
Published on Nov. 17 2008 by Steve Z. McCauley
4.0 out of 5 stars Loud and proud
Whether you're into any of the subjects that Chuck Palahniuk writes about, you'll enjoy WHAT he does with the materials chosen. Read more
Published on Nov. 28 2007 by James Monroe
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best book you'll read in your life!
This book reads itself on its own so much you're captivated by the rollercoaster of events and "hidden guns" (as Palahniuk calls the "plot twists"), although you find yourself... Read more
Published on Feb. 3 2007 by neuroxik
5.0 out of 5 stars Cover is as good as the book
I do so hope that the people who buy this book take a good look at the cover: it's as ingenius as the writing inside. Read more
Published on Dec 30 2006 by Peck Ransom
5.0 out of 5 stars See-through great!
Someone has blown the face off a beautiful model as she is driving on the expressway! Whodunnit? This question is almost ignored throughout this really weird and hilariously... Read more
Published on March 19 2006 by Charity Valentine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, great cover, great everything
The writing style is unlike any I have ever read; brutally honest, slightly surreal, and hilarious all at the same time. Read more
Published on Aug. 28 2005 by Ellen Rice
3.0 out of 5 stars Meh.. could have been better
I thought the book was good, but it should have been better. The plot idea was great but the beginning was so slow that I didn't even want to finish it. Read more
Published on Aug. 15 2005
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well crafted and original
INVISIBLE MONSTERS is a great book. The same way McCrae's CHILDREN'S CORNER is, and the book RUNNING WITH SCISSORS. I thought this book was hysterical. Read more
Published on June 3 2005 by Rob Rheinhardt
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny and Original!
Invisible Monsters is the story of a famous fashion model, horribly disfigured by the slug of a rifle. Read more
Published on May 2 2005 by Pete Cowdin (Smithville, MO)
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