The Invention of Sound is, as expected from Palahniuk, a dark story of a dangerous scream, a desperate father searching for his missing daughter, and a foley artist using more than effects. Foster Gates’ daughter went missing years ago, and he still clings to the thought he can find the truth, at his support group and on the dark web. Mitzi Ives is a famed foley artist with a difference, known for creating the screams needed for Hollywood films, but this comes at a price: the screamer’s life. When Foster hears a scream that sounds like his daughter’s, their paths are set to collide, but at the same time Mitzi is losing control, and has created a scream with larger power than expected.
I haven’t read any of Palahniuk’s books in a while (apart from a reread of Fight Club), mostly having read them during a teenage love of reading stuff with shock value like him and Bret Easton Ellis, and I found this one gripping and readable, with a sharply honed narrative. The twists and horror of the novel worked well (a foley artist that uses real death screams is a great concept, but even more so when it’s a reluctant family business) and, without wanting to give anything away, Foster’s story is tied in nicely. The opening was confusing, which tends to be the case with any Palahniuk novel, but this one felt easier to get into quickly and figure out what you needed to know, and the short length kept it sharp and distinctly not sweet.
This is a great Palahniuk novel, with a lot of elements that might be expected—fame, violence, questions over what is real or not, and some dark topics—but without becoming too horrific. It all comes together in a satisfying way and has a sense of control and precision. And finally, it seems silly to put this in a review of a Chuck Palahniuk novel, but obviously, this isn’t for the faint-hearted.