Oh Damned... The crazy relationship I've had with this book changed my life. Not necessarily for the story (which is, actually, fantastic in its own way), but for being my gateway to wonders of Chuck Palahniuk.
I picked up a copy for cheap at Barnes and Noble on sale, and I thought, "Hey, this is that author that friends recommend every so often, but I haven't heard of this book... Might as well give it a try," and I was very excited to read it. I was REALLY put off by his writing style at first; I just couldn't get into it.
I was initially confused by his sheer absurdity. I just couldn't understand why a conception of Hell needed to include oceans of semen or lakes of aborted fetuses (seriously, they're in there). I knew he was a bit of a shocker, but I really thought the whole thing was silly, especially because it was toted as being "like a Breakfast Club of the damned," I thought the storyline was heavily relying on the cliche.
Now, with that being said... This book is an incredible piece of modern fiction. Nay, this series. I had to put the book down after awhile of reading "Are you there Satan? It's me, Madison," honestly, due to the aforementioned complaints, and instead took the time to read one of Palahniuk's most appraised books, "Rant". After that, I felt like I got a better feel for what he's all about. While waiting to borrow more Palahniuk books from a friend, I HAD to pick Damned back up because I was craving more.
I soon noticed that the "schtick" was not what the storyline relied on. Of course, I can't go so deep into the storyline as to spoil it, but let's just say that Madison's life- er, afterlife- is not as it seems. It's especially worth finishing so you can read "Doomed," which is the follow-up novel that takes the story to a whole new level.
So, my bottom line is this: DO NOT try to read this series as your first time Chuck Palahniuk reader. Read "Invisible Monsters" before you read any of them. You really have to have a feel for how Chuck develops a "voice" of the character that often repeats using what he calls his "choruses." Otherwise, this story may seem too silly to take seriously. The work as a whole is really grand, and it takes you from grossed out, to laughing at silliness and absurdity, to deeply touched and disturbed (yes, at the same time).
Prepare yourself for a ride... This one's definitely worth the read.