Book Review: Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk

“A billion husbands are about to be replaced.”

This was my first read for the #ReadingMyLibrary Challenge. 

Beautiful You by Chuck PalahniukAuthor:  Chuck Palahniuk

Genre: Contemporary? Humor? Sci-fi?

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 10/21/2014

225 pages, hardcover

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

Okay. I’ve been trying to put my thoughts together on this one for about a week. I’m still not really sure how I feel but here we go.

It’s a book about a guy who develops a line of sex toys so powerful that they make women all around the world completely addicted to them, hence the quote at the start of my review. It focuses on Penny, the girl who gets coffee at her law firm. She’s invited to dinner by C. Linus Maxwell (aka “Climax-Well) and eventually becomes Maxwell’s final test subject for the line of sex toys.

For Chuck Palahniuk, that sounds all fine and dandy. A little weird, a lot sexual, and totally something I can handle. But then it just gets…uncomfortable. I’ve read at least 5 Chuck P books, and while they usually make me feel weird, it’s in a way that I like books to make me feel, if that makes sense. They push me out of my comfort zone in really interesting ways. This one though? I’m not sure what the point was. It very obviously makes fun of the state of literature and erotic fiction but it’s just gross, unnecessarily so. Maybe I should’ve expected that, but it went so much further than any Palahniuk book has gone (and I’ve even read that Guts short story). It was just…uncomfortable a lot of the time. It felt wrong. Beautiful You was offensive for the sake of being offensive.

Parts of the book were interesting and entertaining, I’ll give it that, but more parts were gross. Chuck P’s books are supposed to make you feel uncomfortable, but this was so much more than that. He seems to have gotten so wrapped up in how gross sex can be. After a while it actually started to bore me. I want to give you two examples to wrap up the review since I haven’t really explained why it felt weird. These are potential spoilers, I suppose, so be warned. Also be warned that it’s somewhat graphic.

“He slipped a third and fourth finger inside. ‘Good girl, you vagina is ‘ballooning.’’ During arousal, he explained, the inner vagina expands, lengthening to create a dead end beyond the cervix. Now his entire hand was inside. [my emphasis]

Penny looked down to see only his smooth, pale wrist disappearing into her. At the sight of it, she moaned” (53-54).

Alrighty, there’s one. Another example:

“This,” the sex witch said, plucking something from her wet depths, “this is all I have remaining from my mother.” The object she held was brownish, like polished wood, like an unvarnished pencil, and she withdrew it slowly. The extraction made a faint slurping sound. “It was her longest finger,” the Baba explained in a hushed voice. “I cut it from her even while the wild animals devoured the rest” (Page 166)


The bottom line: Chuck Palahniuk’s books are kind of like a car crash, in that even though you want to, you can’t look away.

Rating: I don’t even know… 5? Take it or leave it? 4? Eh. This is bad? 6? I don’t know. You make your own judgment.