Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk is not an easy book too read, not so much because of the language or how it was written, but by the extremely strong graphic imagery that leaps out at you page after page after page. It is shocking, explicit, unbelievable and, in all honesty, kind of scary.
While the premise of one megalomaniac controlling the global adult female population with nanobots so tiny they’re undetectable even by x-rays, embedded by Beautiful You item number goodnessknowswhat, may seem ludicrous, the book is less about pleasure products so good that women everywhere abandon their entire lives for 24-7, and more about the ‘evils’ of consumerism and marketing and the release of dopamines through superficial means like shopping and wanting things one doesn’t actually need. It’s about an industry controlled by a few and exploiting the many, albeit taken to the extreme.
That said I like how the book’s evil character, C Linus Maxwell’s, main reason for wanting to control women is because women are the one with the power – the intelligence, the drive, the decision makers – and therefore are the ones who control the marketplace. But even though Penny gets wisdom and enlightenment imparted on her, and Maxwell gets struck down in the end, and Penny takes herself away to live the life of a sex-witch hermit, the story still ends with Penny in the clutches of wanting that power, wanting those ‘things’, even if they’re artificially created.
Now what does that say to you about the power of consumerism?