By Chuck Palahniuk
My Rating: 4 Stars
I should start this review by saying this was my absolutely first exposure to Chuck Palahniuk. I knew all about him and had for quite some time but I hadn’t gotten around to reading any of his books. I don’t know why, please don’t ask me that question. It could be because I have something like 2000 books on my to-read list and I work 60 hour weeks, but I digress…..When this book came out and I saw it, I thought, well now is a good time to read something by him. I’ve since been told that perhaps I should have started with Fight Club or one of his numerous other books. I was prepared for his books to be a bit on the bizarre and strange side but I wasn’t prepared for what I read within the pages of this book. That’s not saying that I didn’t like it because I did. I enjoyed it immensely. Though I’ll admit it took me some time to accept that I did actually enjoy it. It was such a strange little read. In fact, I found myself providing a daily play by play of what was happening in the book to my family and colleagues. They were enthralled and a bit appalled at times and I do believe they thought I was a bit crazy for continuing to read this little book. This book is complete and utter satire and if you typically aren’t a fan, you should stay as far from this book as possible. In addition, if you are easily offended or are a die hard feminist (I’m not trying to offend because I’m all about feminism) but if you can’t see past the very anti-feminist ideas presented in this books pages, you probably shouldn’t read it. In my opinion, the book says more about the male psyche than it does about the female one. So if you continue, please go forward with fair warning.
Beautiful You is about a science and technology billionaire named C. Linus Maxwell or “Climax-Well.” He’s dated the most powerful and beautiful women in the world but has never settled down. Penny Harrigan, our heroine of the story, is an average woman working a low-level associate job at her law firm. When Maxwell meets Penny he invites her to dinner at the most exclusive restaurant in Manhattan and then whisks her off to Paris where he brings her more pleasure than she has ever imagined possible. But Penny starts to realize that Maxwell has some strange quirks. She knows he’s dedicated to his work but their lovemaking seems to be more fascinating to him from a scientific standpoint than anything else. Penny soon discovers she is his “everyday woman” guinea pig for his latest and greatest technological masterpiece, a line of sex toys for women that goes by the name of “Beautiful You.” When Penny learns that Maxwell plans to take over the world by systematically making all women dependent on his line of toys and batteries. But things don’t go as planned and the success of the toys is so great that women stop doing everything including having sex with their husbands and boyfriends and the men of the world are NOT ok with this turn of events. The world is out of control and Maxwell must be stopped before it’s too late. Penny must find a way to stop Maxwell’s evil plot of world domination before it’s too late.
Yeah, this book shocked me just a bit. I knew I should expect something a bit off the wall with Chuck Palahniuk, but I wasn’t prepared to start reading a book and find myself in the midst of a rape scene consisting of the heroine being raped by a courtroom full of men with no one helping her. To say it was jarring is putting it mildly. I’ll admit I had a moment where I almost put the book down and walked away. But I found myself wanting to know how she got to this point. How did the world spin so out of control that this horrific scene could possibly take place. So I stuck it out.
As I proceeded further into the book I couldn’t help but laugh at the absolute absurdity of the plot. Everything from the name of our nemisis, Climax-well to his odd actions in the bedroom with his notebook and lab coat. To the breakdown of society and women turning into crazed, beings and doing anything for batteries. What the actual f*@& Chuck??? How did your brain come up with this? Really, I’m being serious, I honestly want to know. I’d love to sit in a room full of others who have read this book and discuss until there is nothing left to discuss. What does this book say about our society, about women and about men? What does it say about our need for knowledge and power? There are so many questions. If I thought our adult book club would be able to discuss this book I’d recommend it in a heartbeat, but I fear they might begin planning my death if forced to read it and discuss with other humans.
In the end, I liked this book. Ultimately, I gave it four stars. It was entertaining, thought provoking and an absolutely fascinating look at the world we live in. Oh and I should mention that while looking at the Goodreads record on this book I saw it was on this list: Male Characters You Would Run From if They Tried to Date You. Haha! That gave me a good laugh. So go check out this latest from Chuck Palahniuk…if you dare. (Oh and don’t let that beautiful cover fool you, this is no romance novel..haha!)