Genre: Fiction, Palahniuk (he’s pretty much a genre unto himself)

Notes: Book 14/50. I loved Fight Club for its originality and it’s unique style, so I had really high hopes for Survivor as well.

Review: Alas, Survivor did not live up to my expectations.  I will confess, I’m something of a Palahniuk junkie.  In my college creative writing class, we had to pick an author’s style to emulate.  I picked Palahniuk.  I like his short, choppy sentence and the weird angles he takes on everything.  I’ve read a few of his other books (Invisible Monsters, Rant, Haunted, and Choke) and I picked up Survivor because a friend of mine brought it to the beach.  From like page 5, I was hooked. However, said friend demanded his book back, and my Survivor experience remained woefully unfinished.

When I eagerly picked up the book from the library, I started right where I left off.  Except the magic that sucked me into the story disappeared.  I feel like my rose-tinted Palahnikuk glasses have disappeared.  His. Writing. Is. Intensely. Formulaic. INTENSELY.

In Fight Club, the main character/Tyler Durden has life.  He’s something I had never seen before and, like everyone, my mind was blown by the book and movie.  However, in Survivor, Tender Branson reads like another Tyler Durden.  A  protagonist with awful characteristics you also hate.  He’s a screwed up, directionless, annoying character who you sometimes hope Palahniuk will just kill off because it may be more humane than letting the character get deeper and deeper into unwinnable situations.

All of the elements for an interesting story are there.  Tender Branson is the last surviving member of a crazy Christian cult after the entire cult committed suicide.  When the book begins, he is narrating his life story in the cockpit of a plane that will go down somewhere in the Australian Outback. Okay, I’m hooked.  Sounds cool, sounds interesting, sounds very Palahniuk.  But it really reads way too much like Fight Club. And pretty much every other Palahniuk book.  Can I fault the guy?  No way!  If I found a formula that worked and sounds books like hotcakes, I would milk the puppy for all it was worth.

Bottom Line: If you’re a Palahniuk fan, you’ll probably like this book because it’s pretty much the same as all of the other ones.

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