So this book was super brave, and I give it props for that. I’ve even recommended it to people – and will continue to do so. But for me it flopped.
First, the POV was something else. A first person/second person hybrid? I’m not sure. Or first person only focused on one person? Either way – first person POV is close to impossible to pull off. You have to have a narrator who is incredibly likable. Or at least fascinating. Joe was mesmerizing – for about 50 pages. Then he was a boring myopic narcissist.
Second, the book started out intense. Insane. Bizarre. But you have to begin as you mean to carry on. I expected torture. Terror. Agonizing screams. A walk down the pathways of a demented and twisted mind. Joe quickly devolved into a 13 year old girl who over-journals. Whiny and self-absorbed are not compelling.
And finally, an entire book without a redeeming character is huge. I need a reason to read. Character. Story. Or writing. I could have loved Joe if he went balls-to-the-wall. If he’d been dark and clever. Instead he became a victim – listing his many injuries in his mind but not doing anything about them.
So while the book was brave – I suggest it wasn’t brave enough. Joe is no Humbert Humbert. No Raskolnikov. He doesn’t compare to the characters Palahniuk creates. If you’re going to go crazy you need to go big! Chaos. Rage. Sweaty ramblings at 2 am. Joe is a little more crazy-cat-lady than American Psycho. Sorry Joe.