I’m also a long time fan of Chuck Palahniuk and this one was one of my favourites!
Invisible Monsters (Release Date: September 1999)
She’s a fashion model who has everything: a boyfriend, a career, a loyal best friend. But when a sudden freeway “accident” leaves her disfigured and incapable of speech, she goes from being the beautiful center of attention to being an invisible monster, so hideous that no one will acknowledge that she exists. Enter Brandy Alexander, Queen Supreme, one operation away from becoming a real woman, who will teach her that reinventing yourself means erasing your past and making up something better. And that salvation hides in the last places you’ll ever want to look.
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Ever since the movie Fight Club, I’ve been wanting to read some Chuck Palahniuk, especially after hearing people say that he’s their favorite author. And now I know why. Palahniuk wields words like a bad ass, ripping our hearts out one minute and making us piss our pants with laughter the next. He doesn’t shy away from grossing us out with horrific descriptions or taking us to some hilarious moments of TMI with the protagonist’s parents. Furthermore, I couldn’t decide if I wanted to love or hate the main character, which was fine with me since she wasn’t sure about that herself. That’s part of the message in this novel. How do we live in a jacked up society and still love ourselves?
At first I was worried that I sometimes couldn’t keep up with the shifts back and forth between present and past. But I went with it, and it all seemed to come together despite my reader whiplash. The jumbling of scenes mirrors the extreme turmoil the protagonist feels. I mean, she doesn’t have a face. Not only is that a nightmare for any woman, but think about being a former model. Yeesh. Palahniuk manages to slip some social commentary in there while the reader is being distracted. Yes, we are forced to take a close look at the value of female beauty, but so much more. Several characters are tormented by gender identity and sexuality, while others are so messed up they don’t realize how they’re being off the charts hypocritical. It’s all that dark and twisted goodness I enjoyed so much.
Warning: be prepared to have the rug pulled out from under you a few times. Palahniuk plays dirty. The narrator lies to us more than once. For the briefest of seconds I was upset by this. But then I was astounded as to how much this amped up my enjoyment of the story. Soon I was begging the author to abuse me some more. However, he was kind enough to keep it to a minimum, since it would’ve sucked if it’d been overdone. You know how that goes…
This book is not for the squeamish or overly offended. Gore, transsexuals, and sexual situations abound here. With that said, I can’t recommend this book enough. The ending had me in all kinds of feels. Shock. Empathy. Sadness. Don’t expect a pick me up, here. But you will be forced to face some of society’s ills. And maybe even some of your own.