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4.4 out of 5 stars
Survivor: A Novel
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Showing 1-7 of 7 reviews(2 star)show all reviews
on March 31, 2004
If you are looking for a quick and superficially engaging book that makes you think you're thinking more than it actually makes you think, Survivor is the book for you. I read all 304 pages in just a few hours and its pseudo-profundity briefly made me feel like an intellectual giant. Yet, the more I reflected, the more the book struck me as choppily written, obtusely minimalist, and with a message that's trite and ironically reeks of the consumer culture it attempts to lampoon. The first half is relatively strong because, in describing the day-to-day tedium of its likeable central character, Palahniuk's prose is fully in sync with the rhythmic, compulsive thrills that lonely people create to make life momentarily bearable. Titular survivor and narrator, Tender Branson is the quintessential Palahniuk misanthrope, jittered as much by psychological hangups as the debasing consumer culture. When he's drawn out of his obsessions and embarks on a real romance wrapped in morbid sexuality and psychic foreboding, his struggle for connection feels organic and palpable. The second half however doubles over on such promise, and instead taps into the trite satire that threatens the emotional balance of the first half. Every dangerously stupid Gen X aphorism, so sparsely sprinkled throughout the first half, nascently comes into full offensive bloom, accompanying equally cliche narrative plot devices: the climactic [emotional] encounter; the murderous brother; the twisty realization of fate. Palahniuk loses his humanity and turns a story underscored with human despair into a high-octane exercise in fame-sucks banality as our hero inexplicably degenerates into a grotesque tele-evangelist. None of the satiric gags are funny because they are just that: gags- neither stemming from an emotional or intellectual place. I enjoyed reading Survivor on the basis that it's rarely boring and easy-to-swallow. I guess one could say the problem occurs in the digestion.
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on March 22, 2004
If you are looking for a quick and superficially engaging book that makes you think you're thinking more than it actually makes you think, Survivor is the book for you. I read all 304 pages in just a few hours and its pseudo-profundity briefly made me feel like an intellectual giant. Yet, the more I reflected, the more the book struck me as choppily written, obtusely minimalist, and with a message that's trite and ironically reeks of the consumer culture it attempts to lampoon. The first half is relatively strong because, in describing the day-to-day tedium of its likeable central character, Palahniuk's prose is fully in sync with the rhythmic, compulsive thrills that lonely people create to make life momentarily bearable. Titular survivor and narrator, Tender Branson is the quintessential Palahniuk misanthrope, jittered as much by psychological hangups as the debasing consumer culture. When he's drawn out of his obsessions and embarks on a real romance wrapped in morbid sexuality and psychic foreboding, his struggle for connection feels organic and palpable. The second half however doubles over on such promise, and instead taps into the trite satire that threatens the emotional balance of the first half. Every dangerously stupid Gen X aphorism, so sparsely sprinkled throughout the first half, nascently comes into full offensive bloom, accompanying equally cliche narrative plot devices: the climactic sexual encounter; the murderous brother; the twisty realization of fate. Palahniuk loses his humanity and turns a story underscored with human despair into a high-octane exercise in fame-sucks banality as our hero inexplicably degenerates into a grotesque tele-evangelist. None of the satiric gags are funny because they are just that: gags- neither stemming from an emotional or intellectual place. I enjoyed reading Survivor on the basis that it's rarely boring and easy-to-swallow. I guess one could say the problem occurs in the digestion.
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on December 13, 2001
Chuck Palahniuk writes in a very specific style, its just a shame that I find said style so irritating, his novels can be likened to Irvine Welsh, but none of his characters have the substance of the great Mark Renton, they are mere toys whom Palahniuk uses to make a point, and make it he does.
His novels are filled with social commentary and interesting facts, but this lack of substance means you only read Palahniuk on the off chance he might have something interesting to say about sex or drugs, not for the characters nor the story.
Frankly this is a book for teenage boys and Marilyn Manson fans, gimmicky and "nihilistic", another way to alienate your parents and look cool at the same. Want real writing? Want real characters and nihilism, go read Trainspotting
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on May 7, 2001
I have to disagree with the reviewers who applauded this book. Hey, I loved Fight Club. This, however, was a hugh let-down. It read like a book of Fight Club outtakes. The cutsie numbering of chapters and pages backwards was ultimately irritating--reminding me how many pages I still had to slug through. And what was the point? Religious cults are bad? Am I supposed to like the narrator? It's very hard--I don't feel I know him at all. Must the book turn on a character who can unrelentingly predict the future? Is that cool? Funny? Meaningful? Clever?
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on September 3, 2001
The book is well written, it starts out good (lots of nice quotes), but the ending is sooo dumb. It ruins the whole book. The book is generally predictable and although I like this style, the style only works when an author has something significant to say. Some may disagree with me here, but I thought Chuck had something much more significant to say when he wrote Fight Club. Of course, I couldn't put Survivor down, but in the end I was REALLY dissapointed.
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So you say you loved Fight Club, both the movie and the book? And you want more?
Well, you think you want more.
After reading this book, you'll realize that Chuck Palahniuk delivered exactly what he told you to expect: more nihlism and confusion leavened with a bit of cleverness (both in plot and dialogue)...but like the sixth or so childhood Haloween candy bar, you soon realize that you're not satisified, you're just feeling queasy.
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on January 24, 2002
The characters seemed distant. I did not care for any of them. Some situations seemed very improbable. Most of the novel seemed very sketchy and lacking detail where much detail was needed. It was an entertaining read nonetheless.
However, don't expect something more spectacular than Fight Club like I did, because it isn't.
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