“The one you love and the one who loves you are never, ever the same person.”
— Chuck Palahniuk, Invisible Monsters
If I told you that Invisible Monsters was supposed to be Chuck Palahniuk’s first novel, before Fight Club were to ever happen, but was rejected by publishers for being too disturbing, would you believe me? Countless people have found themselves falling head over heals in love with this novel to the point of calling it Palahniuk’s best work of fiction and their own favourite book of all time. While Fight Club became a world-wide classic piece of literature and one of the most critically-acclaimed masterpiece in cinema, Invisible Monsters has all the ingredients necessary to blow your minds away just as effortlessly. The story is told by an unnamed narrator who’s had a freak accident on the highway that left her face horribly disfigured (goodbye jaw). Once a fashion model that caught the eye of every individual that crossed paths with her, now she struggles to be seen and loses sight of her own purpose in life. It’s upon meeting Brandy Alexander, also known as the Queen Supreme, a woman who undergoes more surgeries than you could count on your fingers to become the most beautiful woman alive, that the narrator learns some of the most valuable lessons regarding identity and love. Invisible Monsters is not your ordinary novel. It is one of the most artistic and unorthodox work of fiction that you’ll ever come across in a sea of books.
Invisible Monsters is a chef d’oeuvre. It’s impossible to exit the stage without feeling completely overwhelmed by the story that was smacked into you. This is without a doubt the most f*ked up story I’ve ever read. Pardon my language, but there’s no better way to describe this book. May you be warned that the plot twists are uncountable and unforeseeable. As soon as you think that the biggest surprise was conveyed, expect to be struck by a shower of thunderous twists that are not only there to mess with your thoughts, but to convey a subtle, and powerful message. Whether it is a desire to showcase the insanity of excess or the consumption of passion, Chuck Palahniuk invites you on a journey that one would never have thought possible. There’s a very strong humor that borders satire throughout the whole story and leaves a lasting impression that survives days after reaching the end. Invisible Monsters can also easily be classified as a transgressive fiction that touches upon a grand array of themes, from love (self and others), identity, attention, beauty and sexuality. With characters that defy conventionality and a narrative structure that transcends what readers are traditionally used to, Invisible Monsters is a true artistic creation of visceral and unshackled creativity.
Nothing is what it seems. It’s what you’ll find exquisite with this book. It has such an aggressively deceptive writing, that you sometimes feel so immersed that you just can’t help but focus on what is told instead of looking wider, and sometimes even behind, to see the freight train coming. The plot devices used by Chuck Palahniuk are also some of the most original and truly fitting aspects to the style he employs. One of the recurring devices used throughout the book is when the narrator pretends to be in a photo shoot and the text looks like this: “Give me attention. Flash. Give me adoration. Flash.” I truly enjoyed these little bits that occur randomly and unexpectedly. They not only remind of us about the narrator’s past (before the tragic event) but also adds this humouristic touch to the whole narrative. Furthermore, to heighten the brilliance of the writing, repetition is scattered throughout the novel in a cleverly fashion. While it is easy to find yourself annoyed by the style, I found myself pleased and immensely intrigued by the direction and decisions made by the author. I’ve never known Chuck Palahniuk to stick with a shtick, but to rather experiment and explore, and that’s what I got from Invisible Monsters. It is a novel that struck me with originality and with the never-before-seen.
Another element which I thought was less evident—since Chuck Palahniuk had to settle with a revised edition of this book—is how the story does not possess a classic sequential structure. No, no, no. Invisible Monsters has a continuity intertwined within multiple pasts. As you read, the narrator says “Jump to when…” to put you in a completely different moment in the life of a character. This is something that Chuck Palahniuk wants you to embrace and get used to as life is never about the predictable but always about the unexpected and sudden changes. Quickly you’ll realize that even with such a choppy progression, you’ll still be able to feel a certain temporal continuity. The best part is how parts and segments feel so irrelevant when taken in at face value, but later become hints and clues, only to become irrefutably pertinent. The flashback scenes also gives us a glimpse into the character’s own life and offers us the opportunity to contrast the past with the present. A huge deal of character development is easily observable through this particular style of narration. After all, a protagonist that had everything going for her until a tragic event shifted her life that thrust her onto a downhill slope is a protagonist that is bound to rethink some of the most fundamental elements of her life. That’s where the Queen Supreme serves as an enabler and a model to what is to come.
As I hinted earlier, this revised edition that was released after initially being rejected by publishers is not how Chuck Palahniuk intended his story to be. A much more sophisticated edition was later released under the name of Invisible Monsters Remix. Remember when I said the narrator would make you jump from one moment in time to another? Well, Invisible Monsters Remix pushes the idea even further and shuffles these sections of the story and adds: “Turn to page …” This much more cumbersome structure makes sure to remind you that this book is supposed to be read like a fashion magazine with the most random images and advertisements popping out the blue. While I haven’t tried this version of the book yet, I am truly curious to what the reading experience would be like, especially with the number of insane twists that are sprinkled throughout this book. I hear there are even hidden chapters that aren’t part of the sequence and that some parts are even written upside down, as in, you’d need a mirror to read it. Can you imagine reading that edition? I can smell the fun miles away!
Invisible Monsters remains one of Chuck Palahniuk’s greatest books. It tackles conventions related to beauty and love in a unique and brilliant fashion. It is filled with plot twists enough to rattle you to the core, and even drown you in awe and admiration. If you’re feeling adventurous and curious about where you could find your next alarming, messed up and disturbing story, need look no further. What can I say?
Give me unique.
Give me unpredictable.
Give me a masterpiece, baby.
Jump to Invisible Monsters.
Are you interested in Invisible Monsters?
You are, you say?
How about you read this book for yourself!
You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo now!
Are you interested in the Remix edition? You can purchase your copy @Amazon Canada or @Chapters Indigo
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★★/