Friday, June 5, 2009

Invisible Monsters, by Chuck Palanhiuk.

This book is definitely not for the faint-hearted. In fact, I wouldn't even attempt it unless you're already schooled in the disturbia associated with Palanhiuk. Personally, I was enamoured with Fight Club from a very young age, and every time I read it, I understood it in a different way, existential nihilism and all. However, this did not prepare me for Invisible Monsters and its force.
Invisible Monsters centres on Shannon McFarland, a one-time supermodel whose life is churned over when an accidental gunshot leaves her without a jaw. From hereon in, Shannon acclimatises to life as a self-proclaimed monster, invisible to others who refuse to acknowledge her presence.
The juxtaposition between Shannon's former life as a model restricted by her beauty and her current, and future one, as someone disfigured and unable to talk, is an extreme one. Welcome the entrance of the novel's secondary lead, Brandy Alexander, a transexual one operation away from a complete transformation. Brandy coaches Shannon in her reinvention, and teaches her not to move from the past, but to live each day only for the secods as they fly past.
The novel ends with a shocking conclusion, wherein unexpected identities are uncovered, and revenge is enacted in hideous ways undeserving of the original crime.
I think that the confronting aspect of this novel is that Palanhiuk is entirely unsympathetic toward Shannon's disfigurement. While this is, in a way, justified by the concluding revelations (and there are a lot of them), it still makes the novel feel somewhat wrong. Shannon herself, the narrator, takes a tongue-in-non-existent cheek view of her disfigurement, which is, at first, difficult to read.
...if this review is complicated, and all over the place, it's because the book itself is, also. I reccommend it to you if you're acquainted with the "transgressional horror" which Palanhiuk has developed in style, but if you aren't, be prepared for a horrifyingly confrontational read.


  1. I can't get my head around and Chuck books so I don't think I will be able to read this one.
    By the way, it would be great to catch up when your free!

  2. Gracie, I only JUST realised you've commented on nearly all my blogs!!! I'm so sorry...! What days are you free next week? Amazingly, I have next weekend off!