Review: Rant

Rant isn’t my favorite Palahniuk novel, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.  It’s a very mixed bag, and Palahniuk is still one of the best weird writers out there, so you’re in good hands.  It’s the story of Rant Casey, a strange kid from a bumpkin town who enjoys rebelling against the small-minded status quo in weird and gross ways.  Rant extorts his way out of town and heads to the city, where he joins up with a secret society of young anarchistic rebels.  There’s nothing terribly new about all that.  It sounds like Palahniuk’s regular modus operandi, right?

Except it sort of takes place in a science fiction world.  The city Rant arrives in is segregated by a curfew, so the upper class lives during the day and the lower class during the night.  Also, there are no TVs or books, as everyone in this future can download experiences and entertainment through ports in their skulls.  As a child, Rant loved infecting himself with all manner of venoms and viruses, and as an adult he becomes the patient zero of a rabies epidemic.  Some people become zombie-like “droolers”, but the real problem is that the rabies affects people’s brain-ports, which opens their minds to a phenomenon that the Illuminati-like “Historians” don’t want them to know about.  Only that’s not completely vital to Rant’s motivations.  He has an obsession with gross things, and he relishes in breaking down the boundaries society puts up, but it’s not the world he’s rebelling against.  It’s himself. 

Confused yet?  It gets weirder.  The main twist to Rant is the oral biography form.  Palahniuk uses the points-of-view of many different people with different opinions of who Rant was.  These people sometimes give conflicting stories.  As Rant’s backstory becomes more complex, it becomes harder to tell what’s really going on with our protagonist.  I get the choice of style, but it becomes more of a hindrance when paired with such a complex plot.  Time travel is a hard enough subject to deal with.  It’s convoluted and hard to organize, then pair that with elements of Fight Club (a secret society of misfits) and Choke (a modern outsider being a real-life messiah/superman), and the whole thing becomes a little confusing.  Rant is a good enough story, but with so many clashing ideas and an experimental structure, the plot never quite meshes into a whole.

Get it here:


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