Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants is a successful mix of mental health insight, religion, science fiction and the absurd.
The novel begins in a straight-forward literary tradition, like a trippy version of House or the short-lived series Mental. It’s interesting and populated by strange and quirky characters. In retrospect, I think Pants could have written a very good literary novel based on the themes in these early chapters. It’s like he thumbed through some of the stranger patient files from some sanitarium and strung them together with a single protagonist.
Instead, Pants mixes in a dash of absurd that doesn’t quite connect for … a long time. The absurd takes the form of Jeremy who is, or is pretending to be, God. Jeremy is a catalyst for Oliver, the novel’s main character, but the plot line winds up in danger of breaking Chekhov’s principle of drama.
If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.
Then, like a psychotic break, Whom God Would Destroy turns into a full-blown science fiction novel. Interestingly enough, this part of the novel works too. It’s fun and off beat. (Orgasms, Aliens and Big Macs, oh my!) But where is this all going? It’s enjoyable but the pieces don’t seem to fit. And like a shoe string catch in the 9th inning Pants brings it all together at the end.
It’s an enjoyable climax but the pacing to get there was … odd. After the fact, I absolutely enjoyed the experience, but while reading it I couldn’t help but wonder how it would resolve. I like being surprised but there was no anticipation. I couldn’t see it coming. Part of the fun of a roller coaster ride is that slow clacking ride up the hill, right? I still might not know how far that drop is, but I know it’s coming.
Outside of the pacing, I thoroughly enjoyed Whom God Would Destroy. Pants creates a number of believable characters and then tosses them into an unbelievable situation. I learned a bit, pondered the nature of personality and self, and found myself grinning most of the time.
Be forewarned, Whom God Would Destroy is not for the politically correct or religious zealots. Pants is definitely from the same mold as Christopher Moore, a high compliment in my book.
Pants was kind enough to provide this copy to me for free and while I read it rather quickly I didn’t get around to this review for ages. So do me and yourself a favor and kindly go out and buy Whom God Would Destroy by Commander Pants.