First review: for those, who (like me) have previously followed Palahniuk’s work with great interest and have read several of his other books. This one is a winner. It does use the anagnoresis formula that he refined in his early novels, but it does so better than ever. It also involves the praeternatural dynamics of stories like Lullaby and Diary, but this time the approach is science-fictional rather than fantasy-occultist. The “oral history” conceit plays to Palahniuk’s strengths of idiosyncratic voices, unreliable narration, and epigrammatic punch. If you’ve read and enjoyed other Palahniuk books, you know you don’t want me to tell you the plot, but the key themes include epidemiology, perception of time, control in urban societies, and messianic mythopoeia.
Second review: for the uninitiated. This book will take you for a wild ride. If you want a nice linear plot development where each piece immediately makes sense by being added to the ones that have come before, don’t bother. In fact, the author exhibits the entire story on page four, in a sort of one-paragraph Shakespearean prologue replying to the question of how the speaker got such a good deal on an airplane ticket. But don’t get too comfortable in the first hundred pages, because when you leave the small-town setting, you won’t be in the world you had likely imagined. And you’ll have no idea what’s really going on until the last 20 pages out of over 300. What you will have is more sardonic humor, gutwrenching pathos, and profound ideas than you can shake a stick at. If you can take that sort of bewilderment, then by all means you should.
Third review: for my brother and sister Magicians. You never thought the Secret Chiefs could be like this! I’ll see your Mahatma and raise him a Phil Dick and two David Cronenbergs. “Sun and moon give time the form of day and night. Sushumna is the eater of time. This is declared to be a secret.” (Hatha Yoga Pradipika 4.17) [via]