This wasn't my favorite Palahniuk novel, but I think this sequel was better than "Damned."
If you read "Damned," you might be wondering things like "DThis wasn't my favorite Palahniuk novel, but I think this sequel was better than "Damned."
If you read "Damned," you might be wondering things like "Did Madison's parents love her?" or "Why did they take so many drugs?" or "What's the story behind Madison's friends in Hell?" or "Why did Madison end up in Hell?"
In "Doomed," our gentle narrator takes a break from improving Hell to come back to Earth as a ghost. We get a lot of her back story, too--not so much about her time in the snobby Swiss boarding school or her adventures with the Eastern European adopted brother who ended up strangling her with a ribbon of condoms in "Damned"--but a bit further back, when Madison was sent off to upstate New York for a summer with her maternal grandparents which ends with her developing an eating disorder and a fear of public restrooms and some major issues regarding her grandfather.
In this one, we see a more innocent Madison who attempts to get her rich and famous parents' attention by writing pornographic diary entries and later pretending she is in love with Jesus. I loved the part where her father asks her to put away her phone at the table and she mouths, "I can't. It's JESUS."
But seriously, there is a larger issue at hand. A phone call Madison made from Hell to her parents in "Damned" has here resulted in the Spencers inventing a very popular new religion called Boorism, which calls for people to insult each other and commit sins, but to not take offense when others do the same. It actually brings about world peace, but damns everyone to Hell at the same time. What's a girl to do? God wants her to spread the message of the right wing. Satan wants her to lead everyone to Hell.
Do you like books that make you cry? If so, you'll love this one. Of course when you read a book about kids with cancer, it's a good guess that somethDo you like books that make you cry? If so, you'll love this one. Of course when you read a book about kids with cancer, it's a good guess that something tragic is going to happen. I like how the narrator acknowledges things like cancer perks and the things people say about cancer and "fighting" as if wanting to live is what saves the people who don't die. As if you have to be worthy enough to be spared.
The story is told by a smart, funny teenage girl. I didn't realize this was supposed to be for a younger audience until my book club discussed it. Sure, there are parts about BOYS that teenage girls will totally relate to, but so will older people who can remember what it was like to be young and smitten.
The positive takeaway for me was how it makes you think about why life is worth living despite the inevitable end. "Some infinities are larger than others."...more
This was a book club pic. We all liked it in varying degrees because there was a romantic element and the characters were good people. I think I likedThis was a book club pic. We all liked it in varying degrees because there was a romantic element and the characters were good people. I think I liked it the least, which means I thought it was so-so. My problem with this book is that because it is based on the author's family history, it totally reads like the sort of story someone would tell about their grandparents as young people. Ciro was the strongest 10-year-old boy in the village! Enza was the best seamstress and she always looked after everyone in her ridiculously large family! Everyone in the family was a wonderful, loving, talented person! ...more
I'm only in the early stages of this book, reading the Kindle version. So far I am really grateful this book exists because it has made me think aboutI'm only in the early stages of this book, reading the Kindle version. So far I am really grateful this book exists because it has made me think about some to-do items that hadn't crossed my mind. The idea of huge life change is terrifying enough without the fear and confusion of making dumb mistakes in the process like forgetting to cancel an account or agreeing to work overtime when you should be packing. I bought this book hoping for information about visas, moving timelines and cost ranges, and tips on how not to blow up your Xbox and laptop while using a foreign power supply. So far this book has given me a few very useful worksheets on planning. We'll see about the rest. The downside of using the Kindle version is you can't fill out the charts. You can create a note but not in chart form. Too bad!
I wasn't really concerned about culture shock last week when I downloaded this, but now I think it IS a big deal and am glad the author goes into depth about it. She is an expert on the subject and admits to having hated her first 3 years in London (where she lives now) because she was mentally treating her new home as temporary. It is a little disturbing that one chapter deals with the "panic phase," but I think I will panic a little less with an expert's advice and the knowledge that I'm not the only one who panics when faced with large-scale change....more
I think the success of this book doesn't come from the fact that Christian is a pervert or because of all the sex scenYeah, I read it. Don't judge me!
I think the success of this book doesn't come from the fact that Christian is a pervert or because of all the sex scenes. True, sex sells and that is the first thing everyone knows this book contains. But Anastasia's overwhelming love for this man and the possibility of attaining him (he is obviously smitten with her, but his strange sexual preferences and control issues and the fact that he doesn't "do the girlfriend thing" keep making her wonder)--this is the story most women can relate to.
I also read this because my boyfriend's name is Christian and he is just a teeny bit bossy. He told me not to read this. So whenever he tells me to do something, I call him Mister Grey. ...more
I shouldn't be writing this review now, but chances are I will never finish this book. The beginning, a sequence about a crowd looking up at a man onI shouldn't be writing this review now, but chances are I will never finish this book. The beginning, a sequence about a crowd looking up at a man on a ledge who turns out to be a tightrope walker, was very difficult to get into. And then the story changes completely, sending us to Ireland where a boy is telling us about his brother.... After a chapter or two about the brothers I really started to like the book, but then my book club met and I found out the book changes tack several more times with multiple main characters and different stories that sort of converge in the end, but according to my trusted club members, not that well....more
**spoiler alert** Although the end disappointed me a lot, I loved this book. The author has a great way of presenting relationships with all their lit**spoiler alert** Although the end disappointed me a lot, I loved this book. The author has a great way of presenting relationships with all their little moments that bring people together or push them apart, as well as an incredible sense of suspense.
It's a page turner with some big shocks but some of my favorite passages were just quiet statements about perceptions, like when Amy says Nick has falsely imagined a different version of her after: She has bent over backward to make nice with his mother and the dowdy, boring women of his hometown in Missouri, after she's lived her entire life as a wealthy, famous New Yorker. She's prepared unhealthy food covered in Saran wrap to bring to a get-together she doesn't really want to be at, and she's trying really hard to fit in with these people she's been thrown in with. Is he wrong to think of her as being snooty even when she has gone out of her way to show kindness to his mother? Or is she still judgmental of his family and hometown without saying a word or doing anything wrong? Is it wrong simply to be in a relationship in which you have to go out of your way to blend in with people you don't feel real kinship with? Or is it the most selfless thing you can do?
In this novel, we are presented with just about every emotion ever connected to a relationship. Swoony crushes, established marriages, secret affairs, nagging doubts, chain reactions of hurt feelings, worries about inadequacy, resentment, jealousy, and white-hot hatred. And for a lot of the book, one can understand where all these emotions are coming from. Unfortunately, the end really pushes my boundaries of what I can believe in terms of human behavior. One batshit crazy character, fine. Two? Not really. And other characters not trying to intervene?? Again, no.
The back cover made me think this book is about the power of love and how if you are motivated by love, your actions will pay off and your life will bThe back cover made me think this book is about the power of love and how if you are motivated by love, your actions will pay off and your life will be better. Then I started reading the inside and the part about how the author first heard about Jesus when he was 15 and some Young Life group leader hung out with him. I'm not sure I can keep going with this book because it reads like a folksy stump speech/bill of goods/religious sales pitch: Aww shucks, I was once upon a time a dumb teenager but then I met Jesus and he sounded like a cool guy! I call bullshit on anyone who says they got to high school without hearing about Jesus.
However, I may keep reading because I liked another early part comparing life to whether you go to Tom Sawyer Island in Disneyland or not. If you are most people, you plan to do it next time, but then you may never get around to doing it. ...more
**spoiler alert** The book follows the narrator's life from age 10 or 11 (when she arrives in New York from Hong Kong with her mother) through her tee**spoiler alert** The book follows the narrator's life from age 10 or 11 (when she arrives in New York from Hong Kong with her mother) through her teens and then makes a 12 year jump ahead to show what happens when she grows up. I mostly loved the main character, Kimberly, who is a brilliant student finding her way in a strange culture with a less-than-perfect grasp of English. She and her mother work incredibly hard at a factory run by her jealous, mean aunt. They live in a crappy, roach-infested slum apartment with broken windows for 7 years while repaying their debt to Aunt Paula. All the while, Kimberly quietly goes without possessions or a social life for the most part. She has one close friend, but is not allowed to hang out with her much because a) she spends most of her time working (even as a kid) and b) Kimberly's mom is dead set against having people see their disgusting home and fears owing people favors she can't return. Kimberly eventually gets interested in boys, but only has one real love of her life, who she breaks up with because she doesn't think it'll work out.
I loved the descriptions, Kimberly's awesomeness, the way she misinterprets a few words she hears in ways that don't make sense, the way she explains Chinese idioms and attitudes, and the bittersweet love story part.
What I hated... I just couldn't buy it. Don't get me wrong. I know poverty like that exists. What I couldn't believe was that a brilliant girl like Kimberly could endure 7 brutally cold winters with no heat and never once decide to board up that broken window. I'm sorry, but even if you are broke you can find something better than a garbage bag to cover a broken window. We are also expected to believe that Kimberly's mother, who was a violin teacher in Hong Kong, couldn't find a job teaching violin lessons in Chinatown and absolutely HAD to work in that sweatshop.
And it seemed a little over-the-top PC, like the author wanted to make sure everything was cool with black readers so she had one friendly black shop owner who interacts with them a few times and one really smart poor black student (who you don't really get to know at all) and one black neighbor lady with a baby who Kimberly admires through the window a few times. Kimberly admires the looks of the black people in the welfare line on her first day and says several times that she identifies more with the black kids in school because they are poor and don't have see-through skin, but I find that unrealistic considering her only friends are white and Chinese. Really it's just Chinese and white characters that have any substantial roles in the book. You would think if one grew up in a black neighborhood they'd get to know more than one black person pretty well. And you would probably meet some black jerks, too. This book only contains white and Chinese jerks.
Finally, although I said I liked the bittersweet love story, I was totally not OK with how it ended. I was OK with the fiction romance formula in the beginning (boy meets girl but it takes a long time for them to get together because someone doesn't express themselves and they don't know the other one really digs them, blah blah blah). But once they did express themselves and it was pretty clear that they were both head-over-heels for each other, how could she make the decision that it wouldn't work without giving it a shot at least? He says he wants to support her on crappy wages and stay in Chinatown, but she wants to go to Yale and become a surgeon. Maybe it's a Chinese thing to pursue success before romance. But I thought she should have at least asked him to consider doing things her way rather than assuming he wouldn't prefer a life with her over a life being the provider of the family with someone else....more