*I'll start this off by saying that Snuff by Chuck Palahniuk is definitely for mature audiences, so this review will touch on some of these mature themes, as well!*
Cassie Wright is a queen of porn with a legendary career. She's the star of what seems like hundreds of adult movies such as Chitty Chitty Gang Bang, World Whore 1 & 2, To Drill A Mockingbird, and The Wizard of Ass. She has thousands of doting fans. She has the blow-up doll and genital replicas. She has a mysterious child given up for adoption, conceived during one of her movies with a mystery porn actor. But there is one thing she doesn't have, and still needs: the world record for the world's largest gang bang.
The Challenge: engage in an act of sex with 600 men.
The Dilemma: no one expects Cassie to survive, hence the title of this final film: World Whore 3: The Whore to End All Whores.
To do this, they have gathered a room full of six hundred dudes - found in classifieds, online ads, street fliers, etc, waiting for their turn to make their dream come true and be in the presence of the Queen of Porn.
The story is told by three of these 'dudes': Mr. 72, Mr. 137, Mr. 600, and Sheila, who is the personal assistant to Cassie. Mr. 72 is a nineteen year old boy who thinks he may just be the mystery baby given up by Cassie Wright 19 years ago. Mr. 137 is a jaded ex-television roll with a haunted past that is hoping this will get his career back on track. Mr. 600 is Branch Bacardi, a seasoned porn veteran himself. Sheila is the 'talent-wrangler' who keeps the men in order while also tending to Cassie during the filming. She also spends the most time with Cassie leading up to this day, where she hears an obnoxious amount of Hollywood history from the actress.
My problem with these characters is that they all sounded exactly the same. Even worse, is that each chapter is in first person in these four characters. Sheila is a 21-year old female who sounds exactly the same as Branch Bacardi, who sounds pretty similar to the 19-year old maybe-baby of Cassie.
Most of the action takes place in memory of the characters. When the story was being told in the present moment, it really dragged. Palahniuk really relied on his shock value to make the room more interesting and disgusting than it probably was, and even with that, after a certain point I was like : OKAY I GET IT! Because without the gross details, it's just a room full of dudes with their hands down their pants, watching porn and eating potato chips. I get that shock value is something Palahniuk is known for (read Haunt by him for some intensity), but I couldn't get into it with this novel. Maybe I'm over it? The memories of each of these characters were told in the same, repetitive voice, each one seeming to top each other in extreme memories that hardly seemed realistic.
The ending of this novel was surprising. A twist was presented in true Palahniuk fashion, but it was so far out of anything that could ever possibly happen that I rolled my eyes and slammed the book shut. Trust, I understand the concept of fiction, but this was too exaggerated and over-the-top.
So in the end, I was lured in by the idea of the novel. After all, when the stakes are raised with the possible death of a celebrity, and this crazy world record, it sounds pretty gripping. However, with characters that sounded the same and a narrative that relied too much on shock value, I was left, sadly, disappointed.
Have you read Snuff? Any other Palahniuk works? I really enjoyed Fight Club, Choke, and Haunted.