Posted in Daily Pieces

Book Review #14

Suddenly, it’s almost the end of the year again. Time sure flies fast.
Without further ado, let’s begin the (very very late) review!

Hujan Matahari
Kurniawan Gunadi

Hujan Matahari 2I first came to know the author from his SoundCloud project called SuaraCerita. Then the book is published, and I got sent one as a birthday present from a friend.
*I’m still enlarging my private library. Just saying. :p

Just like it’s title, Hujan, this book consists of three parts representing the sequence of rain: Gerimis, Hujan, and Reda. The first part, Gerimis, is like a warm-up; mostly consisting of light and a little heavy thoughts. Gerimis basically acts as a synthesizer of wandering mind, things that come and go in our daily life. This part made us start to questioning things.

The second, Hujan, filled with heavier writing and subjects, like God, life, and values of life. Unlike the previous part, the contents of Hujan are more complex. It consists of longer writing, and a lot of the contents represent a deeper thoughts, questions that’s been synthesized for a long time. Therefore, the color of the writing is darker.

Reda, the last part, acts as an anticlimax. The color is subtle and it gives off a feeling of acceptance. Just like we’ve been through a journey of questioning and musing over things, at one time we came to an understanding and acceptance of both those questions and ourselves; whether we found the answer or not, whether it’s solved or not.

What I like about the author’s style from the first time is, he writes about human. Our thoughts, our worries, our dreams, our problems, our questions in life. The contents really hit home. Thus, I found it’s very easy to empathize and relate to his writing. He also has his own flow and language, which is a good point for me. As for the book, almost all the writing here is a short one; the author’s trademark. Mostly is one or two pages long, so it doesn’t felt like being dragged.

But, this arrangement has a downside, too. Since each title is pretty short, for me it’s a little inconvenient to read the book in a go. Since each title has its own feeling and message, I have to stop regularly to let it sink. In the other hand, due to the short writing, sometimes it’s felt like the writing ends before the feeling and message are fully delivered. Kind of being cut short. Some titles also felt less focused and tried to squeeze too many things at one. As the result, none of it is well delivered.

Max Havelaar

Max HavelaarHow does it feel to be in a position powerful enough to do something but unable to?
To change something but couldn’t?
Ask Max Havelaar.

As the newly appointed assistant of Lebak Resident, Max has so many things to do to improve the condition of his citizens. But the more he concern himself with the matter, the more he found out just how corrupt the governmental system he’s in.

This one, honestly, was an unplanned reading. A friend of mine bought it and showed it off to me, and since he has a lot in his backlog, I asked to borrow it first. For a year. Cue to read, stop, read, stop for months. Ahaha.

I’ve posted some thoughts about its content here, so let’s get down to why this book is worth to read. Max Havelaar, as the titled suggested, centered around Max’s life in Lebak. But moreover, it brought to light the governmental system run in Hindia Belanda at the time, including all the effects and injustices happened due to the system. The theme itself is pretty heavy and sensitive, but the author presents it well by using three point of views: Max’s, Stern’s, and Mr. Droogstoppel’s. This way of telling also represents the simple fact that what happened during Netherlands’ colonialism in Hindia Belanda is the result of many things and the responsibility of many parties. The accurate historical facts is also a plus in the point of presentation.

In the downside, the book’s flow is not really subtle. This is an old book, indeed, and the writing style is that of those time. Beside that, with such heavy theme, it’s kind of unavoidable to have many serious scenes. IMO, the author did take a lot of space to deliver the background story of the colonialism. Around two third of the book is filled with such scenes and information that it’s kind of boring. Then the last one third came and things turned around pretty quickly.

But, as it is stated in the cover, this is the book that kills the colonialism.
And it’s not called that for nothing.

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great GatsbyPeople said first love is hard to forget.
It’s so true, at least for Jay Gatsby, a millionaire and self-made man. Years after he’s separated from Daisy Buchanan, Gatsby still hasn’t forget her and thus, decided to track her down and start things over. Even if that means to win her over from her husband, Tom Buchanan. But is there really a happy ending waiting for them?

Another classic, another check in my list.

To be honest, the version I own is pretty short for a classic. For sure, it has a low chance of making you bored halfway. Another point making The Great Gatsby easy to read is the familiar environment. Set in 1920s, the Jazz Age, the character’s life style and surrounding don’t feel that different from modern world nowadays. The main story itself is pretty simple, focusing on the interaction between Daisy, Tom, Jay, Nick, and Jordan.

The Great Gatsby doesn’t only talk about romance, though the main conflict is that of Daisy and Jay, but also about societal issue. But the point appealing to me the most is the point of view used. Instead telling it from Jay’s or Daisy’s POV, the author presents it from Nick’s. I found it’s totally important, since the story would be felt very different if it was told using another POV. Being in Nick’s shoes, we are made sure to follow the main events of the story without being left out. And since it’s told using third person POV, one totally out of the romantic relationship and angst, it’s felt more objective.

In the other hand, the objectivity sometimes made it felt emotionless. How Gatsby or Daisy or even Tom felt and their inner thought are totally out of reach. The simple story also has a disadvantage since it fell pretty flat in some parts. The story just flows and ends.
I also has mixed feeling about that sudden end. Well, looking at the amount of pages I’ve read, I knew it would end soon. I just don’t know when or how. It’s just second I was reading it and then I flip the page to find that it’s the last part of story. That sense of sudden loss?

The Lost Hero
Rick Riordan

The Lost HeroWell..after reading the third book, I came to my sense and pick the first one, at last.
It was read as a healthy procrastination in the middle of chaos called deadlines in the semester’s end. Cue to code some syntax, read the book, code, read.

The Lost Hero follows the story of Jason, Piper, and Leo. Jason suddenly awakened in the middle of a school tour without having any memory of who he is or why he is there. Not a single bit. Not even that Leo is his (supposed) best friend and Piper is his (supposed) girlfriend. But, of course, things take turn pretty quickly and soon they are entangled in a fight with ventus. They learned that they’re demigod and being sent to Camp Halfblood. What awaiting for them is their first mission to save Hera, the main goddess of Olympus.

This is the first Rick Riordan’s book I’ve read without Percy Jackson as its main character. I’m not complaining, since I got Leo instead. I do like this kid, okay? Guilty as charged.

Story-wise, this one is the most similar to Percy Jackson’s previous series out of the entire book in The Heroes of Olympus. Maybe because it’s set in Camp Halfblood instead of Camp Jupiter. Change Percy-Annabeth-Grover to Jason-Piper-Leo and you get a whole new crew, a whole new adventure with a similar pattern. I guess I’ve wrote my general opinion about this pattern in the previous review, so let’s just skip it.

Bottom line: Leo!

The House of Hades
The Blood of Olympus
Rick Riordan

      The House of Hades                                    The Blood of Olympus

The last two books of the series. I decided to review it in one section because I’m too lazy to make it more effective.

The House of Hades, the fourth book, telling the separation of Argo II’s crew following Percy and Annabeth’s fall to Tartarus. While the two of them struggling to reach The Door of Death, the rest of the crew have to find their own way to The House of Hades in Epyrus to open the other side of the door for their friends.

Sounds pretty simple, but what is simple in the world of demigod? That means walking through Tartarus, literally; facing many monsters, some of them are the ones you killed before, coming to get pretty little revenge on you; and finally facing Tartarus himself. And is flying with Argo II any safer?
Oh, of course no. Not with all of Gaea’s minions throwing mountains and basically doing anything to make your journey as uncomfortable and as dangerous as possible.

The crew, with addition of Reyna, the Praetor of Camp Jupiter, have to send the statue of Arthena Parthenos back to Camp Halfblood. And then, two main problems: fighting Gaea and preventing the war between Camp Halfblood and Camp Jupiter a.k.a the war of demigods.

Another fun ride with Rick Riordan and the demigods. So, let’s talk about the upside first.
As expected from the author, this series bring forth another tight plot and fast-paced story. The adventures are thrilling, the jokes are fun, and the characters are strong.

With nine different characters, including Nico and Reyna, the whole series sure is a packed lot. It made an effective storytelling, though, since we can jump from one POV to another, following the sequence of events. Each character has their own personality, problems, and background; and it is well told.

I personally like the concept of New Rome which is very..normal, with its schools, jobs, civilization, and architecture, unlike Camp Halfblood. How the gods are perceived from both their Greek and Roman’s side is interesting, too. And, well, everyone got their happy ending. And couple.

In the downside, the amount of characters made it difficult to deeply empathize with each and every one. Some ended up appeared too strong or oppositely, too weak

With more pages, more fights are ensued. But frankly speaking, I don’t think some of it are necessary, story-wise. Some parts in the series felt dragged, too. Book four, The House of Hades, especially felt awfully exhausting and unnecessarily long, a symptom usually appeared in the middle book of a series.

Another downfall, IMO, is how the main conflict is executed. The fight to defeat Gaea has been the backbone of the story, built for five books long, and then the fight happened in less than twenty pages. And Gaea is defeated by simple trick. Well, or maybe that’s the whole message: that everyone has their own weakness, no matter how strong one is.

Sidoarjo, December 20th 2015


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