Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Shannon McFarland is a catwalk model, who is the centre of attention wherever she goes. That is until she ‘accidentally’ blasts her jaw shot off with a gun whilst driving down the highway. Shannon is left horribly disfigured and incapable of coherent speech. While in the hospital she meets the Queen Supreme, Brandy Alexander, in a speech therapy class. Our protagonist must create a new identity – past, present and future, assisted by her new friend Brandy, who is just one operation away from realising her dream of becoming a woman.
The pair, along with friend Seth Thomas, set out to get revenge on Shannon’s treacherous former best friend and fellow model Evie, and two timing former boyfriend Manus. We follow their outrageous antics on a cross-country trip that concludes with the revelation that not all is what it appears to be.
Presented anarchically, with non-conformist formatting and a non-linear chronological order, Invisible Monsters is concerned less with plot and more with the callous, self-absorbed and damaged characters that populate it, all of who desire to be people other than themselves. The book’s premise, the superficial vanity of the beauty industry, is used both to explore the unattractive side of human nature and, in customary Palahniuk fashion, to satirise society.
The book’s non-linear presentation and convoluted style requires considerable concentration, and in the absence of a meaningful plot, this reader suffered occasional lapses.