Doomed by Chuck Palahniuk – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Doomed is the sequel to Damned and part two of a proposed Dante inspired trilogy. It sees the return of Damned’s protagonist – the plucky, post-life, plump, periphrastic, pubescent progeny of celebrity parents, Madison Spencer. In Damned we followed Madison’s post-life trials and tribulations in hell: now the adventure continues with a trip to purgatory, or earth as we refer to it. Travelling around as a ghost Madison is invisible to mortals and can come and go as she pleases.
In her absence Madison discovers that she has spawned a religion, Boorism. Boorism demands that its adherents treat others in an offensive manner; the duty of the recipient is to not take offence. Madison’s experiences on earth include detailed flashbacks to a summer spent with her grandparents in upstate New York, culminating in a grisly death. There is also an explanation of Madison’s own demise, a lengthy discourse about a former pet kitten, a ketamine using shaman, and considerable time spent immersed in the superficial, contradictory, drug dependent world of our protagonist’s still alive parents.
There seems no doubt that Doomed will be regarded as one of Palahniuk’s weakest efforts to date. Convoluted, repetitive, pretentious and tedious, the book contains little of the astute and compelling social commentary of his seminal works, Fight Club and Haunted. The question inevitably arises whether the irritating Madison justified having a second book devoted to her, let alone a third.
Palahniuk once said, ‘I will never write a sequel to anything that I will ever write.’
In this reader’s opinion that would have been advisable.