The Neighbor is a short story prequel to The City. Though it released first, I didn’t find out until after reading the novel, so I read it this week.
The year is 1967. Malcolm Pomerantz is twelve, geeky and socially awkward, while his seriously bright sister, Amalia, is spirited and beautiful. Each is the other’s best friend, united by a boundless interest in the world beyond their dysfunctional parents’ unhappy home. But even the troubled Pomerantz household will seem to be a haven compared to the house next door, after an enigmatic and very secretive new neighbor takes up residence in the darkest hours of the night.
I was very happy when I realised the story is about Malcolm and Amalia and that I’d get to spend some more time with them, as The City wasn’t enough! And what beautiful characters…
The writing style is different but still good in this story, and the exchanges between the characters as good as in any Dean Koontz work. (Like in the novel, the music references went over my head.) The story gives a little more background to the Pomerantz household, and Malcolm and Amalia’s relationship and bond. I loved their conversations, especially the one at the breakfast table. While some parts were creepy, the story was not very scary because I’d guessed the truth about the neighbor.
While, like the novel this story explores the hidden mysteries and wonders in the world, it is more about the characters. We are shown the world of the Pomerantzes from their perspective and the happiness, solace and love the brother-sister find in each other.
It’s a good prelude in terms of character build up and introduction, and a bittersweet read for those of us who read the novel first.