I could keep this review very short and just say: Cody Kennedy did it again; he broke my heart, showed me pictures and thoughts I didn’t want to see or think, and managed to lift me up in the process. Last year I read and reviewed Slaying Isidore’s Dragons and Omorphi is at least as good, as captivating, as heartbreaking and as thought-provoking as that book was. However, Omorphi was written and published before SID, so chronologically at least, that statement would be wrong.
Like SID, Omorphi deals with the aftermath of a most horrific case of child abuse. I’m not going to go into any details here, suffice to say that young Christie has lived through ordeals that are beyond anything most of us can imagine. But that is also the other side of the same coin, because not only has he managed to live through the ordeal, he is now learning how to survive and live with it in a most magnificent manner.
I’ve got to be honest and say that it was hard, at times near impossible to read about Christie’s past. If any of the horrible acts had been committed on the page I’m not sure I would have been able to continue reading the story. As it is, the truth about Christie is revealed slowly. As he learns to trust Michael, and that Michael won’t turn away from him once he finds out what he has been forced to endure, Christie slowly reveals ever more details about he’s been through. And, much to Christie’s surprise, this sharing is what makes it possible for him to start processing his past rather than just try and push it away. The most heartbreaking part of this process for me was the fact that Christie didn’t see his past as something that had happened to him, but something he was. The abuse had stripped away his self, leaving him in a position where he believed that he only existed as a vessel for others to be used, something dirty and disposable.
Despite his past and the way he views himself, Christie was a wonderful character. As fragile as thinly blown crystal, he also has an inner core of strength and determination he can’t recognise or acknowledge, but draws on almost unknowingly. Christie made me smile as often as he made me cry. His initial inability to believe that Michael would help him or give him presents without expecting anything in return was just one of many stabs at my heart. His mental nerve endings lie so close to the surface, his emotions are all over the place. Or, as Michael says it:
The rate at which Christie’s personality changed gave him mental whiplash. He was so damn confusing.
And that brings me to Michael, our all-round good guy. Michael doesn’t have a bad bone in his body and falls for Christie hard and fast. But for me the best thing about Michael was that he wasn’t perfect. Yes he was understanding, accepting and patient—everything Christie needed in order to learn how to trust. But Michael had his moments, lost his cool every now and again, and made mistakes. Because Michael had been lucky enough to grow up in a world where ordeals like the one Christie had survived didn’t seem to exist. In the hands of a lesser writer Michael might well have ended up as a too perfect saint. Cody Kennedy presented him as a well rounded, realistic and utterly loveable young man, filled with only the best intentions but fallible, like all of us.
The developing relationship between Christie and Michael was charming, beautiful and all too recognisable. Michael’s attempts to take it slow and the resulting battle with his hormones, desires and infatuation made me smile. It brought me back to my own teenage years when knowing what I should or (maybe more accurately) shouldn’t be doing wasn’t always what actually happened.
Before you think this book is almost five-hundred pages filled with heartache and pain, let me reassure you. This story is as much a thriller as it is a love story; it gives the reader as much beauty as it shows the ugly side of humanity, and for every tear you may shed there will be a smile or belly-laugh to balance things out again. Yes, Omorphi deals with abuse and trying to forge a life out of the ruins others have reduced you to, but it is also a story about friendship and loyalty. And best of all, it is a story that ends with a beginning because as long as there’s hope there is a way forward.