People hit the nail on the head on the cover there. This book really is wonderfully strange. Louis Drax is an accident prone nine year old boy who seems to have a life threatening accident every birthday. The latest accident has left him in a coma, with little hope of recovery. There are two narrators, Dr Dannachet, the specialist treating Louis, and Louis himself, who is wandering through his own twisted dreamscape. Here, he makes friends with the creepy Gustave, who only has bandages where his face should be. Through the two differing viewpoints, the strange and awful existence of Louis Drax is laid before the reader.
This book is chilling, funny, sweet, disturbing, funny and heartbreaking by turns. It’s obvious from the start that something is VERY wrong in the Drax family, but the field of possibilities doesn’t narrow for quite a while. Is Louis disturbed, is his father abusive, is his mother crazy, is it their toxic relationship that is damaging poor fragile Louis and turning him into the bullied Wacko Boy of his school?
All is made harrowingly, horribly clear by the time the book draws to a close. While you may not love some of the mechanics Jensen uses to force out the truth from the protagonists (the sleepwalking, for example), it’s hard to deny the power of that truth. It’s also hard to deny that Louis Drax is a beguiling narrator, and one that will linger in your memory long after you’re done reading the story of his accident prone life.