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Fight Club: A cultural rite of passage. Millions of people watch the movie or read the book in High School, leaving them awestruck, confused, enthralled. It’s appropriate that people become attached to the story in the tumultuous times of adolescence, as the story itself (described by author Chuck Palahniuk) is “about a lonely person looking for some way to connect with other people.” Other, more in depth, assertions of the novel state that it’s about redefining what it means to be a man in a “Disneyfication of manhood”, or the struggle of the proletarian taking power into his own hands. Whatever the conclusion you take away from the story, one thing is guaranteed, Fight Club will always have it’s own space in your head. Palahniuk continues his landmark story a decade later from the depressing open ending of the novel, not the victorious and explosive ending of the movie.
One thing you can always count on Chuck Palahniuk’s writing to be is unapologetic. He frequently writes characters who are less than honorable, and who are often on the margins of society. Usually involving sex and violence, Palahniuk’s novels always have a shock or a twist in the third act, and Fight Club 2 is no different. Fight Club 2 opens ten years later from the novel with the Narrator on all kinds of pills, keeping Tyler Durden at bay. His marriage to Marla is going south, their son is distant and weird, and the only way Marla can cope is to swap the Narrator’s pills for placebos, bringing Tyler out and having an affair with him. The story takes many twists and turns as the book (comprised of ten chapters) winds towards it’s bizarre and meta ending, my favorite of which is that Tyler never went away, he just went quiet. That might seem like a spoiler, but I assure you, it certainly isn’t. The punches never stop, figuratively and literally, as the Narrator finds out how far Tyler has expanded Project Mayhem, now under the guise of military contractor company “Rize or Die”, where the Narrator works at in an unspecified capacity.
If you think you know who or what Tyler Durden was, Fight Club 2 completely changes that. He was as close to a friend as a split personality can be to the Narrator in the original work, but in Fight Club 2, he is practically a full blown villain. The greatest twist for the series comes in the middle of the third act, in chapter eight, that’s where everything you thought you knew rockets away. Despite the reader knowing that Tyler and the Narrator are the same person, to make things easy, the artwork clearly shows who’s controlling the body. Cameron Stewart‘s art never disappoints, being both timely and nostalgic. It’s almost like a realistic cartoon, faces exaggeratedly edgy or rounded, explosions large and playful, buildings like architecture studies. Stewart rides the line, delivering a world that you can believe exists somewhere. Dave Stewart helps keep this image in place with his vibrant and expressive coloration. Stunningly beautiful painted covers are provided by David Mack.
Beneath all the glitz and glamour of explosions, split personalities, and “Sport Banging”, Palahniuk delivers a story that, at it’s core, deals with Joseph Campbell‘s idea that a second father is instrumental to the hero’s journey. The second father concept is based on the idea that a character needs a secondary male role model as they enter adulthood, to further hone their minds and help shape their journey. This is expressed in many different ways throughout the book, from the “space monkeys” at Project Mayhem looking up to it’s leaders, to the Narrator’s son and his interactions with both the Narrator and Tyler Durden.
One of my only complaints about the book would be that Palahniuk wrote himself into the story in an incredibly meta way that would only work in a comic book. Stephen King is the only writer in recent memory that successfully wrote himself into one of his own books with The Dark Tower series. The sole reason Palahniuk gets away with it in Fight Club 2, is due to the medium. This Hardcover novel collects the ten chapters that were originally released as single issues, along with a comic depiction of the events of the original novel’s ending. The novel ending is there so people who have only seen the movie can still enjoy the sequel. Speaking of sequels, Fight Club 3 has been announced by Palahniuk, still to be published in comic form. In face of Fight Club’s first two rules, in appears we’ll be talking about Fight Club for a while longer.
Chuck Palahniuk’s penchant for the dark and depraved mixed with Cameron Stewart’s almost whimsical artwork create a sequel that is worthy of any reader’s attention. It stands, fists raised, with a 9 out of 10.