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Cannonball Read 2 #34: Invisible Monsters by Chuck Palahniuk

Invisible Monsters is the story of Shannon McFarland, a model who was in a terrible car accident and had her jaw eaten by birds. After her disfiguring injury, she throws in with Queen Brandy Alexander and they hit the road, criss-crossing the country in search of drugs, make-up, and entertainment. Along the way, Shannon tries to figure out who she is and what her life means.

The story, as is the case with all Palahniuk's books, starts out reasonable enough. However, the chronology starts leaping back and forth through time, and soon things begin to spiral out and become more and more bizarre. Shannon's first person narration is wholly unreliable, and her circumstances are often utterly ridiculous. Just like an old mystery novel, everyone somehow manages to turn up again in the end, and who they are and what they want will be surprising.

I feel like this is Palahniuk's version of a coming-of-age story. It's about identity--where does it come from? Who creates it? Are you what you look like? Are you more? Less? Do you create yourself, or are you created by those around you? By your circumstances? Do you have a choice? It seems as thought the message is that you are whomever you decide to be--the only thing stopping you is you. It's an interesting concept to ponder.

As usual, if you don't like Chuck Palahniuk, you aren't going to like this one. If you do like him, I recommend you check it out.

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