SHIT by Shahnon Ahmad

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I forgot that I did technically finish this book some weeks back. I saw this book in one of the booth at a flea market. It was a worn copy and there are a lot of pages highlighted by its past owner but it was a short reading experience. I did speed read through thinking about purchasing and apparently I didn’t need to.

As much as satires goes, it wasn’t subtle. It wasn’t clever nor was it funny nor was it deep. It was plain shit. Every paragraphs seem to accompanied with some form of excrement in one way or another. When the book rounded up to explain itself its meaning without bothering to create a structured content, I wonder why it was published in the first place. For all its content the book does reflect the childish self-destructive nature of the nation’s politics particularly the drama between opposition and the current government down to the favourite labels attached to them. Consider Anwar’s “I wanna be an MB” fiasco, this book was still relevant to reflect the current political state despite its being obvious juvenile rant against Dr M some twenty years ago.

Coming from an established writer who is a functioning adult, surprisingly the content was deary and riddled with adolescent angst. It was dead juvenile and for a sarcastic person such as me, if I were to write the book with the specific theme in mind, I could summed everything up in one paragraph with 140 characters with full of f-words and publish everything for free. If I was that conventional politically-oriented that is.

All form of politics are corrupt in one way or another, its just groups of socially-influential people financially invested in governance. Unless we have a digitized incorruptible utopian government, the chances to get a completely virginal governance with naive outlook will stretch near to impossible. The book might amuse itself being constipated with some controversial elements worth having exploding diarrhea over, it is still a show of literary irritable bowel syndrome.

Keep on dreaming things that all of this will change in this lifetime with some provocative players in line. But fact is, we’re still afraid of change and the new players replacing them are more likely similar as the others before them. What everyone need is a gastric lavage and an enema.

Viscera: Epic Frail by Nathan Massengill

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This book is an epic failure for trying to portray any sort of female empowerment. Instead, it try to milk out those sentiments by producing this kind of garbage. It was a genuine short read with all sort of misogynistic and BDSM symbolism in black sharpies. There were parts where it was pretty structured, some in long words while the rest was just an artistic expression of someone’s “kaki ayam” scrawl. I have no better english word for that btw.

This novel have a good intention to portray all sorts of the wrong things like women who are deathly conformed into being sexualized creatures functioned only to get laid and procreate. And the main character uses all of this stigma to gain an upper hand to the guy who want to rape and intentionally impregnate her by being seductive at the face of her would-be rapists and sexually tantalizing in all her naked glory because she had this invisible shield that protect her from these would be attacks that the later part of the book was an epic violent altercation involving a speeding subway train, a sewer and a gigantic hammer.

Colour me not pleased. I’m not sure what the author use drug himself to think that this was in anyway educating about violence against women in graphic novel form. I could keep an open mind about the possibility of it but the end product was disappointing. I suppose there was a long lengthy explanation to all of these and symbolism including some fine lines and vague words in the dialogues but this is the part where the ‘show’ contradicted the ‘telling’ part in the most mind-boggling way. I appreciate black and white renderings like Sergio Toppi but there were a lot of potential to the art for this book but when you’re bombarded with all sorts of sexual objectification, female body exoticism and fleshing out the physical fragility of a woman in face of brute force she knowingly place herself into while maintaining a veil of control, it became a complete fluke. There wasn’t even a plot in it and neither was an ounce of realism as it is probably a legit sci-fi as they’re all aliens but apparently common sense and intelligence was lacking. But mistaking female empowerment by consensual sexual abuse and vigilantism? That was a very long shot in the spectrum of awareness in any sexual violence.

I got duped by the promise of a strong female character. Sure, she’s pretty invincible with her sharp nails, stiletto heels and anti-rape force field. But that was just a trope using comic book logic written by men who can’t understand how some grandmothers can be a real strong female character. When depth and intelligence became optional over superficial vague madness, landfill is the appropriate solution. As someone who had experiences with aggressive assault in sexual nature and also a supporter of female’s right, the book is disturbing but its more disturbing when it try to sell you that the idea of achieving sexual independence was to literally dangle yourself into a situation where you purposely became a bait for potential rapists. Whatever message it have or any subtle plot it might trying to portray, it was destructive that no matter how you play it out through these sort of limited perspectives and barren plots, you end up doing the same thing you’re trying to educate your readers against.

The ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Pushing the Limits (Pushing the Limits #1) by Katie McGarry

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I’ve been trying to finish this book and it kept being in my DNF-ed for ages. In fact it took me two years and I’ve been reading the galley version of this book and I still have a hard time digesting through this book. Most of the time I expected its due to the formatting but most of it is because I really don’t like and care enough for the story nor for the characters nor the style.

The copy I’m reading doesn’t have the necessary part to make the separate narrative to carry its individual distinction. I found myself being confused by a dual narratives. Often I was in the guy’s head and then suddenly everyone addressing the narrator as Echo and vice versa. They nearly have the same voice and it seem melded together. I guess maybe it was due to them being tortured and scarred souls or something. Maybe its a good thing since if the writing itself took an effort to read, its easier to see where the nice things are. But apparently I still find myself being too emotionally uninvested in these two characters nor with the story.

I have enough problems in my life as a teen and I was a wreck as a teen (frankly who wasn’t) and I’ve been all socially outcast in three states, being called something I’m not and whole balloon of drama and stuff and I’ve tried using the counselor approach several times in my life and it didn’t work for me since I have issues with people who think they can read people professionally but I sort it out eventually and I have my own reading and writing to keep me sane and a therapy. But curiouser, neither the characters doesn’t connect with me. While most think it was too realistic or deep but all I see was superficiality and fictional characters with their personality spread thinly and in a dire need for attention or decent bitch slapping. I like the male POV but soon the narratives was too nonsensical for me to make sense of everything. I simply don’t care about the unnecessary dramas.

Seriously, Kafka’s Metamorphosis at some point did have the whole “everyone and everything is against you for absolutely some weird no reason” alienation right but when you constitute it into one brooding guy with some issues and a girl who are too focused with herself and concerned about people around her to function properly, it does make the necessary attention span went out of the roof. I guess I know why some of these contemporary YA (or chic lit or its new name the New Adult) never click with me.

And I have a problem with books with too many characters in it. I read too many books and known too many people so names tend to come in one ear and out the other unless you hook me to a real person with a face on it. But as soon as I lay my eyes on a chapter of this book, the book exploded into a serious case of too many people and too many drama. I know it was common for stream of consciousness things but all these characters without unique descriptives are just name lists rather than actual characters.

While I appreciate a good deal amount of fictional romance in my otherwise romantic loveless life, the great girth of this book seem to revolve on the unnecessary drama element and loads of talking and touching and expressing feeling at the emotional level that plot took a minor role over the character dramas. While I understand family drama completely but maybe my experience with teenage angst was on different level that the book didn’t synchronize with me at all. I guess to me the book have the same level as every Malay contemporary dramas people make these days with its stick people spending too much of their time and soul on each other and down to some psychological illness that maybe or may not be realistic. Honestly, that was plain excruciating for me in writing form as it does in real life. There is a bigger world out there and the world don’t revolve around singular pronouns and apparently some mean people too. The book is relevant to a degree if what you seek was the drama part but on the overall execution part, it was poorly done. Too repetitive. Too boring. Too predictable and very unexciting. I know some Harlequin and bodice rippers that are better at these kind of cliched dramas that sometimes did touch my medium sociopathic heartstrings but for its length and effort, its too hyped to make the experience worthwhile.

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.