LICIK by Sham Hashim and Julie Anne

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The cover is gorgeous and so inviting and elusive. A beautiful mysterious silhouette holding a golden masquerade mask and rain droplets on the window overshadowing the scenic pair of airplanes across the runaway. But I couldn’t quite say the same thing with the content of the book.

As much as I was unnaturally lenient with the ratings of debut authors, I didn’t find myself being sympathetic enough with the notion over how a book that was written by two person would justify the overall bland and frankly cluttered storytelling which gave even me the hard time paraphrasing everything.

It is basically a set of dysfunctional characters who con each and every rich character in this book for their money by using their sexual appeal and trickery and making enemies along the way. Why I specifically mention a ‘set’ was because of the wealth of characters in this third person omniscient novel instead of what I expected from the blurb. The blurb introduced the potential reader of a female con artist name Fira who use her female wills to trick her victim into giving the moolah out of their pockets and into her bank account. The other narrative characters include Alias – the father, Sadik – the boyfriend, Dato’ Sulaiman, Saliza, Rais, Tan Sri AC Ehsii, Khairi, Johan, Taufik… the amount of their narration varied but still narrating characters.

However, none of them are anywhere nor near virtually likable or well-characterized to deserve their value as narrating character that even I lost interest to everyone in the book as none of them managed to be believable or worthy of sympathy nor empathy. Sure, nearly all of them have dark history, issues and occasional prelude to sex scene but with barely-there plot, all it does was churning words without substance. Its like writing for the sake of wasting paper instead of doing anything that worth the time spent on telling it as a story. In fact the only interesting part that I enjoy was rather briefly which was on page 243 (a small tiny pinch at the end of the book) which unfortunately ended with another case of terrible unsatisfactory case of cliffhanger ending which doesn’t even function as anything really. 

For the writing aspect, I don’t think its redundant as it was very fast paced. But then without a hook pulling the reader into the story, the overused of unlimited characters without any distinct unique characteristic that differentiate one from another, the style that became very repetitive, the overall tone and the lack of humanity in it which made all of it was worthless to redeem. For the language aspect, it was rather moderate among the publication and again repetitive that it lose its shock element. Again, for two writers, honestly, this is just plain shabby.

If the story only retain Fira as the central character of this book without messing with the whole descriptive details on each and everyone of its side character, it would have work better or at least didn’t make me feel cheated about the whole drama. The authors should have rip off Catwoman’s characteristics into her or make her the female persona of Neal Caffrey from White Collar. As plain as I could be, all of these effort reduced to making Fira sound incredibly shallow, confused unbelievable, incompetent, and unidentifiable female character for even the most open minded of all woman. Unlike her namesake, she’s just ‘lucky’ at being manipulated and used by almost everyone in this novel. I could seriously be offended by all these but apparently, my silent wish of wanting a reasonably well-written female character from these pulp series always seem to fall on deaf ear.

Lastly, I don’t think it is a necessity to show off how many the print run which the book have and then market it as a strategy to show the world how well received the book is without even taking the stories into consideration. In this case, I would be more happy if I got the book with the cover and all the 272 pages of it blank since I began to dread dead trees being wasted in these sort of fashion.

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