Survivor

Survivor
Author: Chuck Palahniuk

Tender Branson is the last surviving member of the Creedish cult, but not for long as he has hijacked a plane which he intends to crash after he finishes telling his life story into the flight recorder.

The book starts and ends with Tender Branson in the hijacked plane where he has nicely served everyone their last meal, landed the plane somewhere so everyone could disembark except the pilot who jumps out with a parachute later on so that Tender can die on the plane himself. He has been telling his life story into a flight recorder the entire book because that is what Fertility, a girl he is fascinated with that can see the future, told him to do. She hates her gift, but tells him about the future so that he can use it in his messiah gig, which he becomes sick of himself and eventually leads to the hijacking.

The writing style is very similar to Palahniuk’s other books that I have read. There is a lot of repetition to make a point or to add humor, especially when Tender was made into messiah from agents and other media types. Throughout the story, there are injections of the best-selling prayer books that have his name on them, yet he never wrote. Prayers such as The Prayer to Delay Orgasm, The Prayer to Prevent Hair Loss, The Prayer to Silence Car Alarms. He has been turned into a messiah once all the other members of the Creedish cult have killed themselves in response to an apocalypse. All the members they have sent out into society to make money to send back to the cult are supposed to kill themselves as soon as they hear the news of the deaths. It takes awhile for them to all do it, but they finally do until Tender is the last one standing. The media hounds jump on this and make him famous.

That is the second half of the book, which was amusing, but not my favorite part of the book. I loved the first part where we learn how the Creedish kids try to assimilate into regular culture, but not very well since they seem to be some kind of Amish knock offs. They are experts at cleaning and organizing things. Tender is a maid, cook, butler, gardener and general servant to a rich couple that he has never met in person. They leave him a journal of daily tasks he needs to complete and only communicate through the journal and speakerphone while at work or dinner parties. He knows how to prepare any kind of food and clean anything. The repetition technique was at work during that part of the book with the various cleaning tips, which I found to be hilarious and useful. Maybe someday, I’ll run into the need to get blood or some other stain out of various clothing and upholstery, and now I know how!

The first part also has the side story about how a suicide help line phone number was misprinted in a newspaper story and gave his phone number instead. When people called, he didn’t tell them they had the wrong phone number, but would give them awful advice, like killing themselves. It is this dark, twisted humor that makes me like Chuck Palahniuk. It is also this section of the book where he mentions “suicide girls,” which apparently is where the website feature old school ’40s and ’50s pin-up-style photos of goth, punk and indie girls. He only mentions it in one sentence of the type of people who call the help line, but now it is a super popular phrase. Crazy.

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