Can a Book Be both Bad and Amazing?

I just finished Chuck Palahniuk’s Damned and it is not good. The pacing’s all off. Some things are too repetitious and there’s a conceit at the end that seems designed solely to excuse the book–it’s not Chuck’s bad writing, it’s Satan’s. I couldn’t get into the book at all because the narrator just did not sound at all like a 13 year old girl and I finally just had to succumb to the male voice my brain want to give the text. And it’s another one of those “Surprise! I’m the set up for a sequel!” books.


That being said, there is a section in this book where Maddie, the main character, is left at boarding school over the winter holidays (much like Harry Potter and Ebenezer Scrooge) and she slowly comes to wander around the school and eventually the grounds naked. And then she gets stuck outside with her hand stuck to the door knob (the door is locked) and that part–from the moment she gets left behind until she gets back in her bed after getting back in the school has simply got to be one of the nicest, most well-done pieces of writing I’ve seen.

In spite of everything I just said about pacing and the problems of the narrator, I really did believe, in that moment, that I was reading something that not only was telling me something about that character, but also was telling me something about being a girl that I hadn’t quite realized.

The book’s not unreadably bad. I enjoyed it, kind of. And parts are really funny. It just felt like maybe it was a draft away from actually being done.

2 thoughts on “Can a Book Be both Bad and Amazing?

  1. I wish I could like CP’s books. I just never ever do.

    I would love for you to give Name Of The Wind a try. That and The Long Ships. Two of the best books I’ve ever ever read.

  2. Yeah, I must say, this one didn’t move me to go check out any others. For all the hype he’s gotten, I really was expecting something a little more… I don’t know… strange?

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