“Survivor” by Chuck Palahniuk
Verdict: If you like things to analyze and make you think… Read it.
“Survivor” by Chuck Palahniuk is a great book. I loved reading it; it truly is a book to discover as you read. Palahniuk’s writing style is what really makes this book stand out. It really is the writing that progresses the story and the writing that makes the slow discovery process possible. Don’t mistake, however, that by slow discovery I mean that the story is slow moving; it’s far from it. This book sucks you in and doesn’t let you go until the end.
However, even if you don’t notice, or care about why the writing style makes this story possible, it’s an amazing read. The character, though sometimes distant and hard to relate to, is so intriguing and unique that you can’t wait to see what’s going to happen, or rather what happened to cause his situation. Tender Branson is not only a unique person, but in a unique situation. As you find out in the first chapter, he is narrating the story into a recording device on a plane that he has hijacked; a plane that is going to run out of fuel and going to crash with him inside. This is the first piece of information you receive. It’s at least another few chapters before you find out his name. As the story progresses, with intermittent updates of the plane’s progress, you slowly discover the truth about Tender and everything that has led to him being him. The real discovery process is discovering who the survivor is, not just his story.
Palahniuk’s writing style truly is what makes this discovery possible. The first thing the reader will notice is that the chapters and page numbers progress backwards, like a countdown; this lets the reader know that instead of building up to the end of the story, you are counting down to when the story ends. It also presents the feeling of a finite timeline for the last moment. As Tender is reminded that he has a limited amount of time to tell his story, so is the reader. The other thing that is most noticeable about his writing style is that it’s written in mostly stream of consciousness, or how a person would think. There are tangents, not all ideas are finished directly and many subjects will span the chapter, moment, or book. Aside from these big stylistic choices there are smaller, perhaps less noticeable, that change how you read, and therefore interpret the novel. The most prominent example of these small choices is things like: Tender, when speaking, is not given quotation marks. This serves a very basic function of blending his thoughts with his words; since he is narrating his thoughts are just as “aloud” to him as his spoken conversation. It also lets the reader immediately recognize that Tender is the one speaking since another of Palahniuk’s choices is to not always identify who is speaking.
Overall, just read this book, it truly is an amazing journey.