Adjustment Day

In his first novel since 2014's Beautiful You, Chuck Palahniuk takes the United States' divided politics to an extreme conclusion and proves along the way that his gift for social satire has only sharpened with time.

In the Before Times--approximately now--an impending war churned up by elderly politicians to purge the surplus of young men leads to a new American revolution. This revolt begins online with a crowdsourced list of potential assassination targets. On its own, the List might have failed, but every social uprising has a text to justify its actions; in this instance, it's a book--whose blue/black cover stands out "like a shaved head"--by the mysterious Talbott Reynolds. When Adjustment Day comes, Reynolds's followers murder the List's most up-voted nominees, cutting off their ears to prove their kills and thus securing a place in the new social hierarchy. The U.S. then divides into the segregated zones of Blacktopia, Gaysia and Caucasia, and deports all but black and white citizens.

Palahniuk has a field day skewering both the ruling classes and the proletariat, caricaturing politicians, the intelligentsia, the media and middle America with devilish glee. Readers attempting to pinpoint which side the author stands on will discover he owes allegiance to no one, including himself: at one point, Talbott Reynolds dismisses both Palahniuk and Fight Club as unequal to his vision.

The specter of Project Mayhem drifts by at times as a metafictive conceit, as do stray phantoms of dystopian and literary classics. This pitch-black comedy achieves the aim of any great satirical work: it amuses, unsettles and leaves the reader slightly less sure of the boundaries of reality. --Jaclyn Fulwood, blogger at Infinite Reads

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