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Book review: <i>Whom God Would Destroy</i> by Commander Pants

the cover of the book

A light-hearted romp through the big boys of serious topics - Whom God Would Destroy examines the subjects of religion, psychiatry, the mentally ill, and alien conspiracies in a sniggeringly hilarious meander through some cunning plot twists and a whole new understanding of the universe as it is.

The story

When Oliver responded to an ad as an outreach councillor to assist the mentally ill in the community, it seemed like just the job for him. Six years later, he is at it, with an unrequited love for Abbey but not her multiple personalities, a fondness for Doc and his extreme paranoia about aliens, and the thrill of never knowing what will happen next with Greg and his schizophrenia. He even gets along with most of his colleagues at Optima Resources. Yes, Oliver's life is pretty settled in the banality of outreach. Until he meets Jeremy, who plunges his world into disarray.

Jeremy has a new age store, a bell, a cable access tv program, and a whole lot of ideas about what he wants to achieve on earth. But things keep distracting him – like sex. And television journalists. And whether or not he actually wants to achieve what he's supposed to...

Oliver's world, upside down from the affects of Jeremy, starts to change. He becomes a new person, with a dynamic new personality, and this starts causing problems - in both his work and his life. Meanwhile, Jeremy and Oliver are starting to affect Oliver's outreach patients, but the question starts to present itself - who really belongs in the proverbial asylum?

The style

Whom God Would Destroy is very easy to read, and I can say that with the confidence of someone who started and finished it in record time on a seven inch computer screen while backpacking India. And just for the record, I much prefer to read on paper while lying on a couch. But I still managed, and more than that, I actually found myself wanting to turn the computer on at clearly difficult times in order to read a bit more. Yes, that's how much I liked it.

The book is written in the third person from the perspectives of various different characters in a manner that is essentially Ben Elton-esque but funnier. In a manner that is not Ben Elton-esque, the reader gets a real sense of the author. His writing manages to convey a sort of complicity in the reader with the author's sense of humour, his world view, and his feeling for each of the characters, but without the cynicism of Ben Elton. Which I enjoyed immensely. Each of the characters is developed slowly and humourously, with flaws and foibles exposed in way that causes the reader to sheepishly relate to and/or be intrigued with at least one character in particular.

The characters are really where it's at with this novel; the plot line could honestly have been just about anything with the rich array of characters presented for the reader's amusement. The plot itself is pretty awesome anyway. The story starts slowly, introducing each character, spending just enough time to make sure the reader isn't confused and little enough to keep you intrigued. I must admit, after getting to know all the characters in the story, I spent at least the first half trying to figure out exactly where the plot would go, in between sniggering. Then I started thinking I was getting it, and then I as I read on, there were enough plot twists and revelations to keep me going what? right till the end. Then the ending was clever without being smarmy. All of which I found appealing.

But wait, there's more. If you look past the laughs and the intriguingly outlandish plot, you might get to thinking about some of the ideas explored in the story. Things like medication, mental illness, the function of psychiatry within our contemporary society. How we deal with belief as a culture. Some of the quirks and foibles of human nature. And the nature of reality. The reader doesn't have to think about this stuff if s/he don't want to - it's not a dry university thesis or even a Ben Elton novel. But you probably will end up pondering at least one of these issues, and wonder how Commander Pants managed to be so amusing and thought provoking at the same time.

Who is this book for?

This book is for people who like a good outlandish storyline, a compelling read, and a good laugh. I think it has fairly wide-ranging appeal - if not for your granny, maybe at least for your hip aunt or uncle, friends, self...

In short

Title: Whom God Would Destroy
Author: Commander Pants
Publisher: Pantsateria
ISBN: 0578018896
Year published: 2009
Pages: 330
Genre(s): Humour, Fiction
Review Type: