Top critical review
on February 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.
Unfortunately, in the end, the twists make or break this book. And they aren't even that interesting. Once you see the first one coming - and it isn't too hard to figure out - all you need to do is extrapolate and you have the entire book. Hell, the first chapter is the end sequence, it's like there is a huge, neon sign pointing you where to go and what direction to take, so your mind does, and when you find out that you were right, the disappointment is immense.
Overall, I guess I wasn't happy with this book. It read too much like Choke, another Palahniuk story, and his writing techniques are repetitive and redundant. It was a quick read though, all it took was a Sunday afternoon, and I guess my time was better spent than if I had sat around doing nothing. I guess.