An uprising in Portland, Oregon, leads to social revolution and terror in this relentless satire of our splintered times.
Many writers have complained recently that current events are distracting them from doing the work. Clearly, Palahniuk (Make Something Up, 2015, etc.) has embraced the madness, crafting a dystopian nightmare that takes all the fractures of our modern society and escalates them to a perverted climax. The United States is on the brink of war, and millennials are expected to be mowed down by the thousands, a deliberate plan by a crooked senator to avoid an American Arab Spring. But two new developments emerge. The first is The List, an internet site where anyone can post the names of people they deem a threat to society. The more votes a person gets, the more danger they are in. The second is a revolutionary manifesto by a man named Talbott Reynolds that contains wisdom like “We must kill those who would have us kill one another” and is advertised with the slogan "A Smile Is Your Best Bulletproof Vest!" And then...Adjustment Day, during which The List’s targets are exterminated, journalists murdered, and a “Declaration of Interdependence” setting new rules is written. Only those who killed are granted rights. They are elevated to the rank of barbaric “chieftains,” their serfs marked by a severed ear. The country is split into divided states: “Blacktopia,” “Gaysia,” and “Caucasia.” “Democracy was a short-lived aberration,” Palahniuk writes, taking the anarchist conviction of Fight Club (1996) Project Mayhem and letting it run unchecked. Once Palahniuk turns society on its ear, it’s a rich milieu in which the author can experiment with characters, form, style, and an acidic wit that savages social constructs, conspiracies, and norms with abandon. Or, perhaps not. “Palahniuk,” Reynolds mutters. “All of his work is about castration. Castration or abortion.”
A caustic fantasy about emasculated men, power reversals, proletariat revolution, and extreme violence. Sound familiar?