Last night I finished reading ‘Haunted’ by one of my favourite authors, Chuck Palahniuk. I had anticipated reading it for a while, as I really like Palahniuk’s style of writing and have made it my aim to read all of his books. Being a fan of the horror genre, I decided ‘Haunted’ should be next on my hit-list (although let’s face it – all of Palahniuks novels are pretty horrific in some way or another).
To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I was vaguely aware of the premise of the book, of course, seeing as I had read the blurb and very basic plot summaries online, so I knew there was a plot rather than it just being a selection of short stories (as once upon a time I naively thought). However, it felt like it was lacking…something. What I enjoy about Palahniuk’s books is he always manages to link every subplot and character together in an ingenious way, but with ‘Haunted’ this didn’t seem the case. The characters were all strangers, and besides their shared experience of basically being imprisoned together, there wasn’t anything that connected them. Because of this, it felt disjointed. I would much rather there had been fewer, better developed characters whose “stories” connected in some way, rather than 24 different characters, only one or two of whom were well-developed. The sheer amount of characters made it a bit confusing to follow.
On the other hand, I found most of the short stories (i.e. the characters’ back stories) fascinating. I had read ‘Guts’ before but it still retained its shock value – interestingly, for those of you don’t know, live readings of the story have allegedly caused over 74 people to faint, all at the same point in the story. It still astounds me that words have that power. Anyway, I enjoyed this format and I think the book might have actually been better if it consisted purely of these stories, rather than incorporating a bloodthirsty and slightly monotonous overall plot.
My disappointment hasn’t changed my opinion of Chuck Palahniuk in any way, and I will undoubtedly continue to read his work, but if you are new to his writing I would suggest something a little more accessible like ‘Invisible Monsters’ (my personal favourite) or ‘Lullaby’.
My overall rating? 6.5./10.