Reply Thu 25 Dec, 2008 04:00 pm
by: Chuck Palahniuk
ISBN: 978-0-385-49872-2
Publisher: Anchor Books (1999)


Chuck Palahniuk is best known for his novel's Fight Club and Choke and Survivor has a similar feel. The book
is about Tender Branson, the last surviving member of the Creedish Death Cult, who dictates his life story into the flight recorder of Flight 2039. Branson remains the only passenger on board the plane, but before it is to crash, he tells his story of his life from being an obedient Creedish child and humble domestic servant to an ultra-buffed, steroid and collagen packed media messiah. Branson ends up befriending a woman named Fertility Hollis-the sister of Trevor Hollis, a man that Branson assists with suicide over the phone. Fertility can see the future and makes it a habit of witnessing the tragedies she dreams about. Whether a glass chandelier will fall from the ceiling of a certain building, zillions of killer bees will swarm Texas, or who will win the Super Bowl, Fertility knows. At first Hollis cannot stand Branson, but warms up to him after she finds out he is the last survivor of the Creedish Death Cult. The story revolves around the characters' relationship so divulging to much information may spoil the book.


  • Palahniuk's style and dark humor shines throughout the book. The book counts down the page numbers and chapters to 1.
  • The narrative serves as a harsh critique of pop culture and more specifically of fame and the lunacy of the modern world. Compares the idea of modern society and all of the ways it indoctrinates people to the ways in which cults operate.
  • The book is written in the present tense giving the narrative a sense of urgency, which is necessary due to the premise that the book is a recording on the flight recorder. Typically I find the use of present tense in novels rather limiting and at times artificial, but in Survivor it is a key component that allow the novel to naturally unfold. The use of flashback and memory helps drive the narrative.


  • Very few things are wrong with the book. While there are a couple of typos and mis-edits, the few occurrences do little to detract from the book.
  • If you are someone that seeks deep characters with much development in their books, you may want to look elsewhere. But this book is not about the characters, it's about the narrative-a deliciously original one at that.


  • On Tender's assisted suicide hotline (pp 282)
  • Fertility's recollection of the sinking ship in remembrance of her brother Trevor. (pp 215)
  • Tender Branson's caseworker makes various "diagnosis" of disorders and then he acts them out. (pp 210)
  • Fertility and Tender's date in the women's clothing section for a fire of dresses. (pp 184)
  • Death of the Caseworker from bleach and ammonia gas (pp 165)
  • The PornFill (pp 99)
  • The Super Bowl (pp 75)
  • Adam and Tender go to the PornFill (pp 33)

"People don't want their lives fixed. Nobody wants their problems solved. Their dramas. Their distractions. Their stories resolved. Their messes cleaned up. Because what would they have left? Just the big scary unknown."

"If a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, doesn't it just lie there and rot?"

"What we call chaos is just patterns we haven't recognized. What we call random is just patterns we can't decipher. What we can't understand we call nonsense. What we can't read we call gibberish."

"'We all watch the same television programs,' the mouth says. 'We all hear the same things on the radio, we all repeat the same talk to each other. There are no surprises left. There's just more of he same. Reruns.'
Inside the hole, the red lips say, 'We all grew up with the same television shows. It's like we all have the same artificial memory implants. We remember almost none of our real childhoods, but we remember everything that happened to sitcom families. We have the same basic goals. We all have the same fears.'
The lips say, 'The future is not bright.'
'Pretty soon, we'll all have the same thoughts at the same time. We'll be in perfect unison. Synchronized. United. Equal. Exact. The way ants are. Insectile. Sheep.'
Everything is so derivative.
A reference to a reference to a reference."

"'Next week,' Fertility says, 'there's a commercial bakery that's going to explode. You want to go watch? I see at least three or four people getting killed.'"

My Rating
(1-10): 8.5
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Reply Wed 17 Feb, 2010 12:02 am
After reading some of his other books, especially Haunted, I was disappointed by this one. The plot just didn't work for me. Bright moments, of course.
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