I have absolutely no clue what I was in for when I started reading Invisible Monsters. I assumed that it would be fairly decent, seeing as I enjoyed Fight Club hugely, but I still had no clue what this book would be like. By the end of the review, you might have just an inkling why.
Regarding the story, there’s not much that I can really tell you for fear of giving something away. This is one of those books where there are several twists, one for pretty much every single member of the cast. What I can tell you is that this is a story about the narrator, a model whose life is changed forever when her jaw is shot off, turning her into the eponymous ‘Invisible Monster’ of the title. Having seen pictures of what people surmise she looks like, I can understand the sentiment. This is also a story about Brandy Alexander, a transgender who is one operation away from becoming a woman and is looking to totally reinvent herself. These two go on a road trip of sorts, in order to reinvent themselves. As I’ve mentioned, there are several twists in the course of the book. The main question is, are they good twists? Yes, I’d say that they are. Considering that the book’s narrative hops back and forth along the chronology of the book’s events, the twists are hinted at very subtly in the relevant sections, so that when the moment comes when something is revealed it takes you by surprise, yet seems very natural at the same time.
When I first started reading this, my first impression was that this book would be one of those books that draws you in with the train-wreck appeal: it’s horrific, but you can’t help but watch it happen. To an extent I still think that that is true. These characters are not nice. They may become incredibly sympathetic, but they certainly aren’t nice. Probably the most sympathetic of the characters is Brandy, but unfortunately I can’t really say anything unless I give away some really big spoilers. Suffice to say that there is much more beneath the surface than the pill-popping transgender that everyone seems to be drawn to. The narrator is quite interesting too, being possibly the least likeable character on the roster. For me, there’s something quite fascinating about someone who is so unapologetically shallow and selfish. There’s a certain justification for why she is like she is, but she never uses it as an excuse, which is quite refreshing really.
If there’s one thing that I wasn’t expecting, it would probably be the ending. Having had a very cynical book thus far, with seriously damaged and unlikeable characters, the ending had a strangely hopeful tone to it. It was unexpected, but at the same time it just felt right.
This is a book that does all the right things with characters and how they evolve throughout the story-line. The jumping about in the chronology was interesting and made for well-timed plot twists. Overall, a fantastic book that I would recommend readily. 5/5
Next review: Midnight Cowboy by James Leo Herlihy