Rant is another book by Chuck Palahniuk. After having read quite a few of his other books, and being quite upset with some of the recent ones I read, I was going to write his books off and stop reading them. I ended up buying this one because I heard from several people that it was quite good, and while I thought the book had the potential to be very good, it didn’t turn out so well for me.
This review will have some spoilers for the book.
This book is strange in that it’s written in the style of an oral history, where a lot of different people are asked about a person, and then their stories are compiled. Basically it’s written as though it was a documentary about a person’s life like you’d see on The History Channel. The book is telling the life story of Buster “Rant” Casey. The blurb on the back of the book describes him as the most efficient serial killer of our time, but by the end of the book it didn’t come across that way to me. Casey is definitely a troublemaker and a rebel, but while the book starts out as though he’s going to be a serial killer, it doesn’t turn out that way.
The book starts out in a small town, but then Casey moves to a bigger city where he causes more problems. I don’t remember the names of the towns, but like all Palahniuk books, they really don’t matter anyway.
The book begins with discussing Casey’s childhood, and he definitely had a unique one. He spent a lot of his time being the normal town troublemaker. We all knew kids in school that would do anything to get attention, would break all the rules and cause all the problems in school. In this book that’s Casey. After he leaves his hometown for a bigger city, the book really gets derailed. It starts to go in depth about the idea of Party Crashing, where people drive around and try to hit other people who are also Party Crashing. They use different signals to show that they’re playing the game, such as strapping a mattress to the roof of their car, or writing a price on the car window. This part annoyed me because I didn’t see how it directly related to Casey’s life. Also while this is going on, the book starts to talk about boosting, which was also very strange and took a while to pick up on. It ends up being a way to experience anything by plugging into a computer (similar to in The Matrix, complete with the jack on the back of your neck). This led me to think that the book takes place a short time into the future, but it never really specifies. From there the book talks about Casey’s death, and then discusses some of the consequences surrounding his death and some other strange things that came up throughout the book.
This section will have the most spoilers, including some information about the closing parts of the book, skip this is you don’t want the book spoiled.
The first third of the book deals with Casey’s childhood, the second third deals with Party Crashing and the technology, and the last third is where the train wreck happens. The last third of the book deals with time travel (which I hate), paradoxes of time travel, theoretical discussions about possible human immortality, the origins of gods in mythology, segregation, and railing against the government and it’s control of aspects of our lives. In blurbs on the backs of his books, several reviewers have dubbed Palahniuk a modern-day Vonnegut. The only Vonnegut that I’ve read is Slaughterhouse-Five (which I hated) and the last third of this book was extremely reminiscent of Slaughterhouse-Five. If you haven’t read my review of Slaugherhouse-Five, I don’t consider that to be a good thing. My single biggest complaint about this book is that it started out with a wonderful premise and a unique way of telling a story, but then it turned into a different book. I also complain about books that try to cram a theme down your throat, and the last part of this book came across that way to me.
I wanted to like this book. I loved what the first third of the book promised me, which made it all the more upsetting when it failed to deliver.