Sunday, January 11, 2015

Book Review: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

Any Book that Starts with a Hijacker Narrating into a Black Box is Going to be an Exciting Ride

More so when you know it's a book by Chuck Palahniuk

Tender Branson recounts his life on to the blackbox as he sits in the cockpit of the abandoned plane while the jet fuel is diminishing, knowing that one by one, each of four jets will burn out. So begins the story of Survivor and Tender has a lot to tell about his life.

Tender is the sole survivor of a church cult where only the first born sons and chosen daughters really hold any worth in the community. From a young age Tender was trained for a menial job in the outside world that he was to assume at the age of 17, never to go back to the only world he knew. Tender isn't really even a name as all boys that are not the first born assume this title, along with all of the girls being Biddys.

Tender's journey through the book is very interesting as he starts as a housekeeper in a home where the owners/bosses just yell orders on the speakerphone, never really connecting with Tender, or leaving him lists of the tasks he must accomplish in a planner for him. His days are structured with all that he learned in preparation for the outside world. Tender knows how to get blood out of a garment, how to clean scum off of bathroom tile, and all the important pieces of etiquette that his bosses want to know.

His nights hold a different kind of skill, and reflect his desire to have some kind of power in his life. Tender has his own sort of crisis line, where he is more apt to encourage the person to kill themselves than to try to save them.

Tender comes in contact with a host of characters in this book as he begins his journey that ultimately leads him to his place on that plane that is destined to nose dive in its final trajectory. Throughout this story Tender is along for the ride, conditioned to follow orders as he has done from a very young age, but glimmers of the person he could be are always there, and we watch a sort of slow metamorphosis throughout the story.

Like always, Palahniuk takes the reader on a wild ride, writing in a cadence that often feels like free association, and always has more than a little bit of dark humor embedded in it. And as always, the story is not always what I initially think it will be. Fun read!

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