July 1, 2009

Review: Survivor by Chuck Palahniuk

Preserved on the black box of a downed airplane is the life story of Tender Branson, the last survivor of the Creedish religious cult. Tender hijacked the plane, let all the passengers off and ensured that the pilot was able to parachute off once he showed him how the plane would go down and how to operate the block box recording.

Tender begins his story recounting various duties as a housekeeper for a couple he only hears via a speaker phone and never sees. As a small child Tender, like all children who aren’t the first born, was trained for a lifetime of servitude in the “outside” world. Toiling away like a good servant Tender gets his only thrills from posing as a suicide hotline counselor who tells people, “Go ahead and do it. Kill yourself.”

Tipped off by an anonymous caller, the FBI enters the Creedish compound to investigate claims of undocumented children and tax evasion. When they arrive they find that every resident of the compound has committed suicide rather than face the authorities. Little by little the remaining survivors that live on the outside begin committing suicide but soon it becomes apparent that they’re not all suicides and there is a killer targeting the Creedish survivors.

When Tender becomes the last remaining cult member he begins a meteoric rise to fame and a cash cow for his agent. From prayer books to TV appearances to bobble heads Tender becomes a media sensation but there’s still a killer on his heels. The only thing is that the police don’t believe him. They think he may be a mass murder who killed the other outsiders for all the glory and financial gain and he goes on a long journey to prove his innocence.

I feel a little like this book hasn’t fully settled in yet. It was slightly odd and slightly genius and so I’m going right up the middle with my stars on this one. I say it’s slightly odd for the writing style. Tender’s delivery is very different and I assume it is written in this style because of his Creedish background but it throws you off a little.

At the same time is genius because I’ve never read anything like this unique tale. The whole plot is pretty amazing and considering this was published in 2000 it’s eerily similar to the FLDS cult that was so prominent in the news last year. This is a recommend read if you like contemporary humorous fiction.


Sheila DeChantal said...

I am waiting for this book to arrive. Thanks for the pre view. :)

bermudaonion said...

Your review has really piqued my interest.

Missy B. said...

Good review! I haven't read any of Palahniuk's books (yet). :)

Shooting Stars Mag said...

I've read a few Chuck books and this is my favorite. I really enjoyed it, so I'm glad you liked it for the most part. I heard they were going to make a movie for it, or though about it, and then 9/11 happened so they didn't. There is a "what happened at the end" thing on his website by the way if it didn't make sense to you. :O) Let me know if you want a link...I can try and find it!


MonieG said...

How cool. I never even checked out his website and I usually do. Thanks for the heads up Lauren. I'm gonna take a peek!

MonieG said...

Here's what Chuck says about the ending. Thanks again Lauren!