on July 21, 2003
A fellow Amazon reviewer said that we've seen better with 'Fight Club'...and I tend to agree. I usually don't like to compare books by the same author, and as a Stephen King addict, I've learned that a novel like 'The Stand' really can't be compared to something like 'The Green Mile'; they're just too different. With Palahniuk, however, I couldn't help but envision Ed Norton saying some of the things that Tender Branson is supposed to be saying. The styles are identical, the plot is rather similar, if you really look at it, and each has its narrator, its alter-ego (Adam Branson being the alter-ego), and the lead female character. 'Survivor', I think, is basically a cheap sequel to 'Fight Club', an extraordinary novel in itself.
The problem with 'Survivor' lies in the fact that it seems to rely too much on sounding like 'Fight Club'. Tender is not the narrator from his first novel, Adam is no Tyler Durden, and Marla is nowhere to be found. I read the first chapter at Barnes and Noble and thought it sounded amazing...even better than 'Fight Club', but I was, in a way, a bit disappointed. No, it's not a terrible book, but it's not original. 'Fight Club' was one of the smartest, freshest novels I've ever read, and I've expected more of the same quality from Palahniuk. Unfortunately 'Survivor' isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Don't take me wrong. It sounds like I loathed this book. I didn't. In fact, I enjoyed it enough that I read it in just a few short hours...but I read 'Fight Club' in about ninety minutes. I see real talent in Palahniuk, and I look forward to future works by this up-and-coming author, but I can't totally recommend this novel after reading something superior, yet similar. So, if you've already read 'Fight Club', my advice is to find it at a library; if you've just happened to stumble onto this, it's a good read, and will only make you all the more thrilled when you meet Tyler Durden and friends.
on January 8, 2003
Here's a question: if Fight Club hadnt existed what kinda reviews would Survivor get?
Lets cut to the chase here. Yes, the social critique cuts deep as it does in other books the author has written too. Yes he delivers some hard hits on religion, the media, and societal hypocrisy, and yes you would have to really think hard to come up with many modern authors who are as merciless when they put us all under their microscope as he is. Yes the prose is "different" than what you'd mostly find out there. Yes the dripping sarcasm is present (as it was in Fight Club), yes the subtle irony is there too, yes the unique and hardcore sense of humor isnt absent either.
So why does this not work then? Well, for starters because the story is messy. Or because there is no character that really engages you in it like there was in...Fight Club. How many times have i mentioned the author's previous novel already? You get the point.
I do have the annoying suspicion that people feel either obliged to see this book in an overpositive view exactly because of its predecessor and simoultaneously afraid to be honest about how much they really liked it (or disliked it) for the same reason.
Would i reccomend "Survivor"? No, but I'd rather tell anyone to start from where the real juice is (which would, err, be Fight Club) and wait a while till the author redelivers the results of his massive and powerful potential.
I wont bother reviewing the story since many other reviewers have already done it but i'll repeat my warning: this book here is dodgy, folks. I forced myself through it and i was puzzled because i (obviously) was expecting something way, way, better.
All this doest mean i'm giving up on the author, of course not. I'm just a bit dissapointed by this particular effort.
on October 31, 2001
This is the third Palahniuk novel I've read, and sadly, the worst. The first half of the book focuses on the slave-labor existence of Tender Branson (the main character). His life as an unimportant drone member of The Creedish, (a cult) requires him to work as a slave for a wealthy couple. He cleans their fine home as well as prepares their meals. The strange thing is, however, he never meets them. He is required to account for all his actions to a social worker, who is also an alcoholic. He dresses in shabby work clothes and chops his hair with pruning shears. One interesting aspect of this book is all of the cleaning and cooking advise he gives to correlate with the story. Anyway, not to get sidetracked, Tender also has his own suicide hotline, except instead of talking people out of taking their own lives he tells them to kill themselves. One poor victim just happened to be the brother of a girl Tender becomes interested in. This adds a new twist to an already twisted tale. One of the requirements in being a member of the Creedish faith is that the member must commit suicide, which Tender totally intends to do eventually. As the book goes on, the population of the Creedish religion dwindles till Tender is the only known living member. The media gets wind of this fact and has a heyday. Suddenly Tender is a superstar. He becomes a TV evangalist, is on commercials, has his own product line, well you get the gist. Tender is constantly flying around the country as part of his famous lifestyle. In a flight to the south pacific Tender decides to perform his suicide mission into the outback territory of Australia. This part of the story is made known at the first of the book. In fact to make my review a little bit more comprehendable? The first page of this book is actually the last. I realize this review may absolutely make no sense at all to you, the reader. But basically, this book is about the same. I've read Fight Club, Choke, and Survivor. I enjoyed them in the same order. While it's true, this book does leave a lasting impression, with me it wasn't a good one.
on April 4, 2001
His writing needs some work though. Fight Club became a WONDERFUL movie, from a book with incredible ideas in fiction and satire, but was written very poorly. Chuck just can't keep his words flowing, things come in, stop abruptly, and sometimes you don't know where the story just went. Was a surprise just revealed? Where are they now? That would be my only gripe, though his writing has gotten better since Fight Club (Invisible monsters was actually his first written book) he still has along way to go. But I don't wanna sound like a gloomy gus.
This book is certainly a ride worth taking, its funny, interesting, and is a revolutionary world of characters and plot line. Chuck can do this like no other, his love for "loser" characters who believe that hitting bottom is the ultimate goal in life, and true freedom comes only from going as low as you can go. In fight club Tyler created fight club and led to vandalism and a revolutionary cult that aims to destroy societies norms. In Survivor the main character sells his soul to the media and becomes a Messiah super star. Yet cannot escape his past, in an emotional confrontation at the end. His fait seeming inevitable after the first few pages, but we even feel bad for him at times, and you'll never forget his big "revelation" at the end of the book before the Super Bowl. (lol)
The only other prob is some pages are wasted with knowlege the main character has on how to clean and eat and cook. It gets a bit boring, but once you eat through that you get to the real meat of the story.
Its written better than Fight Club, and contains the same great ideas that chuck just keeps pulling out. I highly recommend this book. I'm truly inspired and introduced to a whole new world of books that aren't sappy happy and truly tug at the heart of the human instinct. Can't wait to read Invisible Monsters
on January 31, 2001
After being thoroughly floored by the incisive wit of Fight Club I was hoping to find something as equally sharp. I was a little let down by Survivor. It felt as if it was trying too hard to shock me, forcing various twists and building up teases for character revelations that simply weren't all that shocking (or perhaps I'm just a bit too desensitized). Still, I find that the bait-and-hook approach to suprising the reader rarely appeals to me, course I could be all wrong and maybe Palahniuk never intended to suprise me. At any rate the bite-sized scenarios and quick witticisms don't make up for the lackluster story. But the biggest gripe for me personally is I've just grown a bit tired of the various satirical looks at media and celebrity, its a bit overdone, even from a writer as fresh as Palahniuk. But don't misunderstand, I'm still a big fan of Palahniuk, and this book wasn't horrible, most of its fun and it's a quick read, but compared to the hugely entertaining Fight Club (and even Invisible Monsters) this book feels trite, a little lazy even.
on October 4, 1999
i thought survivor was interesting.hey i finished it.And there was some real interesting original ideas like the hotline and the way the protagonist searches for life after death.but palahnuik didn't go anywhere with the search for death.sometimes it seemed like he put in the ideas cause they were cool but they didn't serve a purpose really.and i thought the way branson(the main character) was controlled was too far fetched.it was too cynical.things aren't that false and the books and the porn depository were silly and too unrealistic.last of all the way the girl could see the future was too much and there are too many holes in the story with things like that, like time travel stories.i have really only talked about the bad points but everything else was quite could.i am looking forward to reading fight club though.i would have read it already but i dont want to ruin the film which looks very good.basically i thought survivor could have been better.palahnuik tried too hard to be cynical.
on May 21, 2004
I absolutely loved the later works Choke and Lullaby. I found both to be incredibily interesting, sharp and well-crafted works of satire. This one just didn't do it for me. Maybe after Fight Club, Chuck was wrestling with the "sophmore jinx"? There's obvious effort here and Survivor is a "good" book, but I would have to honestly say it's a few stars short of a "great book".
With Choke I truly cared about the main character's exploits. I waited in anticipation for what loomed next and ultimately turned pages quickly. I could not put it down. Survivor just didn't do it for me. I found it a forced read. There are select moments in which this story shines. Some of the "bazillion" metaphors present are dead on hilarious and inciteful. Others are not.
It is impossibile to hit a home run with every trip to the plate. This one's a nice effort, but falls short of the fence. I hope to crack Invisible Monsters next.
on April 28, 2004
Absolutely amazing that there could be an adaptation for that horrid reality show, but apparently Palahniuk has stooped so low.
By the way, if this isn't the first Palahniuk novel for you to read, you should rewind your life a bit and read it before you read Fight Club or Choke. It has his trademark, stream of conscious stylings with a good psychological offering into the thought processes of the main character Tender, but his writing is not as polished as it is for FC or Choke.
As it is, the stylings and plot are still rough around the edges (and not "good" rough around the edges like, say, Nirvana being rough around the edges). It's obvious that he was still developing himself into the master craftsmen that he has since become. His writing results in a few instances where plot progression seems forced.
Overall, it's an easy one-nighter that provides good entertainment, and it is a great lead-in to his later novels.
on July 21, 2001
The beginning of Survivor really sets a very dark, sad and original tone, with the Tender Branson ultra loser, ultra isolated character. The suicide hotline in which he tells people to just kill themselves is sadistically funny. Fertility is a great character all the way through the book.
But once Tender Branson becomes a superstar(made by agents and the like) for being the last creedish cult member living(presumably) the book gets a little too flashy, a little too quick and superficial. It's still a very good book from a very good writer. But with the promise of the first half of the book it is sort of a let down to resort to (as other reviewers have mentioned on here) gimmicks.
Chuck P. does write with vigor and is an easy and mostly exiciting read. I just thought this book could have gone FAR deeper and instead it seemed to have sped up, and lose me with lack of much emotion, that I felt the first half had.
on September 13, 2003
Read most of the reviews on this book. Almost everybody compared it to fight club. Some stated that it was better, while others said it seemed too similar, and yet others said it wasn't up to par. All I have to say is don't buy this book if you have already seen fight club (read fight club), all of the people who reviewed this book compared it to fight club, or only bought it because fight club was so great. If you are going to buy this book, buy it because the plot interests you, not because fight club was so brillant. I bet most of the people who got to this page, only got here because they did a search on 'fight club.' Now you are here, and if you learned anything from the movie, you wouldn't buy this book. You don't have to form some kind of alter ego to tell yourself that buying this book will satisfy you. Will it? Or will you have to go out in buy 'Choke' and 'Diary' and any other new works by this author?