Archive for November, 2012

h1

Killing Moon

November 27, 2012

Not a usual fantasy book, filled with knights, dragons, elves, dwarves and magicians. I think the world of fantasy is quite saturated already with all those. Jemisin is indeed a spring in the bareland of fantasy.

The story moves around three characters: Ehiru, a Gatherer, Nijiri, an apprentice, and Sunandi, a female ambassador. The setting is an impending war between two nation,which these three character want to prevent.

First, I like the world that she created in this novel. It is not your common medieval theme. She had done enough research in mythology also to create the reason behind the world creation. The magic system is also original, unlike the common magic that you find in most sword-and-sorcery novel.

Second, there are not too many characters to follow. This can be a good sign and a bad sign. The good sign, she can bring her reader close enough to sympathize with the character. The bad sign, the story is not complex enough (this is for you, A Song of Ice and Fire fans). But I think it is OK, since she is not trying to create a massive epic novel. The small numbers of characters serves the novel well-enough.

Third, I like the way she include the INTERLUDE in the midst of the novel to bring some background story.

Fourth, the best part I think is the way the writer unfold the story bit-by-bit, so the reader can savour and taste it. You don’t want to eat one meal with one giant gulp, but by piece-by-piece.

WARNING: do not read the glossary before reading the book. It will kill the fun of finding out by yourself.

Verdict: 4/5

Advertisements
h1

Official Trailer World War Z is ONLINE!

November 23, 2012

Ini trailernya:

Bagi yang belum tahu ini film apa, film ini dibuat berdasarkan buku World War Z, karangan Max Brooks. Reviewnya silahkan lihat di sini.

Saya selaku fans berat bukunya, terus terang kecewa berat dengan trailer pertamanya. Dari gosip yang beredar di Internet sejak lama, saya memang sudah tahu kalau filmnya bakal menyimpang jauh dari buku. Saya bukan seorang purist, yang memaksa film harus persis sama dengan buku. Film adaptasi buku adalah sebuah produk turunan yang tidak harus sama persis, karena mediumnya memang berbeda. Banyak contoh film sukses walaupun tidak sama persis dengan buku (meskipun lebih banyak lagi contoh film gagal karena menyimpang dari buku).

Contohnya adalah film Pintu Terlarang. Harus diakui filmnya tidak sama dengan bukunya, tapi menurutku jauh filmnya luar biasa bagus, apalagi untuk film Indonesia, tidak kalah sama Shutter Island-nya Martin Scorsese. Begitu pula dengan Trilogi Lords of The Ring yang tidak sama persis dengan bukunya, dan harus kita akui filmnya luar biasa!

Tapi dilihat dari trailernya, film World War Z ini, bukan saja beda jauh sama bukunya, semangatnya pun jauh berbeda.

1. Zombie dalam film ini adalah running zombie (bahkan bukan saja berlari, larinya luar biasa cepat sehingga menjadi superzombie). Memang di dunia per-zombie-an ada perdebatan alot mengenai apakah zombie seharusnya “berjalan” (walking zombie) atau “berlari” (running zombie). Dalam hal ini saya juga bukan seorang purist yang membela salah satu pihak. Walking zombie bisa menjadi sebuah film zombie yang bagus seperti The Walking Dead. Running zombie juga bisa menjadi sebuah film bagus seperti 28 Days Later (ada perdebatan juga mengenai apakah “makhluk” dalam film ini bisa dikategorikan zombie atau tidak, tapi saya tidak akan membahas hal itu di sini).
Pada intinya, harus ada konsistensi. Ceritanya harus konsisten, entah zombie-nya mau jalan, lari, atau ngesot! Nah, di sinilah letak masalahnya. Seluruh buku World War Z itu dibangun berdasarkan asumsi kalau zombie-nya jalan, bukan lari, apalagi lari dengan kecepatan super seperti yang terlihat di trailernya. Kalau zombie-nya saja diganti, otomatis seluruh film itu akan kehilangan rohnya.

2. Ada beberapa adegan di buku yang sangat luar biasa sehingga fansnya sangat berharap adegan tersebut akan ada di film tersebut. Dengan melihat trailernya, hampir pasti adegan itu tidak akan ada. Salah satunya adalah The Battle of Yonkers, yang adalah pertempuran besar pertama antara manusia (baca: Angkatan Bersenjata Amerika) vs Zombie, dengan hasil manusia kalah besar walaupun dengan berbekal senjata canggih, bom dan pesawat tempur. Semuanya karena mereka mengira perang melawan zombie sama dengan perang melawan manusia!

3. Yang menjadi sentral dalam buku World War Z adalah manusia! Bukan zombie. Buku itu memperlihatkan bagaimana tidak siapnya kita menghadapi krisis global. Ini tidak berlaku hanya untuk zombie, tapi bisa digantikan dengan wabah flu, global warming, krisis keuangan, dll. Tidak perlu zombie super untuk menguasai dunia, cukup zombie lamban ditambah dengan ketidaksiapan manusia!

Kesimpulan, para fans World War Z, siap-siap KECEWA!

h1

World War Z

November 20, 2012

This is not your common zombie book, it is not your common book! It is written like a mock documentary, which is recording the survivor of War War Z, hence the title: The Oral History of World War Z.

The zombie (and war against zombie) is viewed from several genuine angle. Some interviewee plays key role in World War Z itself, while some are just victims or just spectators.

Since it is written as an interview, it is quite personal. You might sympathize some characters, while loathe others.

The genius of the writer lies within his way in describing many aspects of the war from personal views of the interviewee. From this piece and bits, we can start to construct the whole event of the war.

What makes it truly remarkable is the fact that this book is not about zombie after all! Zombie war is just a pretext of the greater issue: human ignorance, greed, heroism, global warming, and international politics. We can see this book as a satire of our real and present world!

Final verdict: only one word. Wow! Mr. Brooks must have done a very intensive research to come out with this book. Everything looks so real, the international politics, war tactics, mass behavior, everything.

This is one book that really effects me. It makes me think again about the future of mankind, for better or worst. Can we really survive as a species, given our trait of ignorance?

Verdict: 5/5

h1

Jakarta Hati

November 16, 2012

Sebuah omnibus kembali dihadirkan oleh Salman Aristo, menyusul Jakarta Maghrib. Tajuknya adalah Jakarta Hati; sesuai dengan taglinenya: di sini jantung ibukota, di mana hatinya?

Premis yang ditawarkan sungguh menarik. Di mana letak hati Jakarta? Atau apakah Jakarta punya hati?

Mau tidak mau saya harus membandingkannya dengan Jakarta Maghrib, yang disatukan oleh suasana Jakarta di saat Maghrib. Benang merahnya lebih gampang dicari, yaitu suasana temaram menjelang maghrib. Dan kalau Anda lebih jeli, keseluruhan adegan dilakukan di lokasi yang berdekatan, yaitu sekitar Rawamangun.

Film Jakarta Hati lebih sulit. Lokasi penyatunya tidak terlihat jelas, kecuali Jakarta tentu saja. Konsep Hati juga lebih abstrak daripada Maghrib. Kupikir di sini Salman Aristo mencoba menunjukkan beberapa aspek dari Hati itu sendiri dengan memakai Jakarta sebagai lokus.

Beberapa cerita di dalamnya kupikir cukup nendang, dan yang lainnya agak hambar.

1. Yang paling OK menurutku adalah kisah seorang penulis “gagal” yang harus berjuang mempertahankan “hati” nuraninya melawan kapitalisme pasar yang menuntutnya membuat karya2 sampah yang laku di pasaran. Di lain pihak dia berhadapan dengan dompetnya yang semakin tipis dan anaknya yang ingin membeli hadiah untuk ulang tahun temannya. Hati dan otaknya terkoyak, dan semuanya diakhiri dengan sebuah ending yang manis.

2. Adegan di kantor polisi dimana seorang polisi muda idealis dengan “hati”, juga harus terkoyak saat ia harus membuat BAP bapaknya sendiri, yang telah meninggalkan ia dan ibunya sejak lama. Dan ia kembali diguncang dengan sebuah permintaan pribadi dari ayahnya.

3. Cerita anggota DPR juga cukup menarik. Di mana seorang anggota DPR harus berjuang untuk menemukan “hatinya” kembali, di dalam pusaran permainan kotor teman2nya.

4. Pembuka omnibus ini juga patuh diacungi jempol. Walaupun menurutku ceritanya bukan yang terbaik, namun cukup menarik perhatiaan penonton, paling tidak untuk tetap mengikuti jalan cerita film ini sampai selesai.

Yang agak lemah adalah dua cerita lainnya:

1. Adegan di dalam gelap. Yang ditawarkan sebenarnya cukup menarik. Hiruk pikuknya Jakarta bisa dihentikan dengan padamnya listrik, dan mereka kembali menemukannya hatinya. Sayang tema yang diceritakan terlalu berhimpit dengan cerita pembuka.

2. Cerita terakhir, tentang kisah cinta antara janda pedagang kue subuh dengan seorang anak muda. Dengan cerita ini, berarti ada 3 cerita yang mengartikan hati sebagai cinta, dan ini kupikir terlalu banyak. Di lain pihak Salman Aristo ingin menampilkan konflik yang agak lain dengan memasukkan cinta berbeda usia dan juga etnis, namun kupikir terlalu dipaksakan. Bung Salman, Anda sudah cukup jago, gak usah ikut2an temanya Hanung, OK… Jadi menurutku cerita terakhir ini terlalu berbau Hanung, dan justru titik paling lemah dari seluruh omnibus.

Andaikan film ini bisa menampilkan sebuah benang merah yang menghubungkan semua kisahnya. Misalnya cerita sang penulis gagal dengan mainan anaknya bisa dihubungkan dengan cerita polisi yang juga ada kaitannya dengan mainan. Cerita pasangan yang pertama bisa dihubungkan dengan pasangan dalam lampu yang padam. Cerita kue yang terakhir bisa dihubungkan dengan ulang tahun. Sehingga seluruh omnibus terangkai menjadi sebuah kisah yang utuh. Kalau tidak, hampir sama dengan menonton kumpulan cerita pendek saja.

Verdict: 3.5/5

h1

Unwind

November 13, 2012

This is the best YA dystopian novel that I read so far. The idea is compelling, even though the premises are not solid. I love this novel much better than Delirium. See my review for Delirium.

The world in this story is a post-war world, a war between pro-life and pro-choice (which I think is almost improbable). It ends with a compromise, the solution of Unwind (killing a teenage human being to harvest the organ), hence the title.

First, the idea that the compromise between pro-life and pro-choice is an unwinding process sounds ridiculous. The pro-life doesn’t even agree to abort the younger-than-3-months fetus, not to mention 18 year old juvenile. The pro-choice also will not agree because the whole idea of pro-choice is to give the mother (which is a grown adult) more right than the fetus.

Second, the writer redeemed himself by making me interested enough to continue to read because of the idea of the locus of soul. When your body is divided to several part, is your soul divided also? When your body cell are kept alive, even though through separate body, can you say that you are still alive? This is quite a philosophical question to make you ponder. There are many twists in this novel referring to this idea.

Third, the characters are well designed and lovable. You can connect with the inner struggle of characters and sympathize with them. Yes, the character are not that complex, but it suffices for YA novel.

Fourth, the plot and pacing are good enough to make it interesting without being overly romantic like other YA novels.

Five, as a political statement, this book is not so strong. It is this fact that separate this novel for being in the same league as the political dystopian classic such as 1984, Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451. I think the writer can do much better if he explored not the pro-choice and pro-life debate, but instead the rampant case of body part sales (in China for example) for economic needs. The news of a teenager in China who sold one of his kidney just to buy an iPad make me feel sick. I don’t know how many people sold their body part just to get money. Imagine that China become a rogue state that legalize the sales of human parts; THAT is a good premise for a dystopian novel.

Overall, well done, and I am willing to read the next installment:
UnWholly.

Verdict: 3/5

h1

Delirium

November 10, 2012

Definitely not my type. Remind me next time to be cautious to read YA genre. Beware you out-there sci-fi fans. This is not a sci-fi book. It is a teenage love story with a hint of sci-fi.

This novel is telling the story of the main character Lena, who lived in a supposedly a utopian society, which is peaceful because “love” no longer exist.

First, the premise is bad. Love (or according to this novel: amor delirium nervosa) is a disease. If it is a disease, what is the pathogen? Virus, bacteria, amoeba, or what? Then, what is the vector carrying the disease? Insect, airborne, water borne? None! It is bad science. The cause is simply raging hormone in adolescence, which is neither a disease or a threat to human society. It is a process of growing up.

Second, assuming it is a disease, the cure is definitely ineffective. The ancient has already found the perfect cure for this disease (at least for the male part). It is call castration. You don’t need hi-tech, just a sharp knife. In order to procreate, you can simply store the sperm before doing the castration.

Third, assuming it is a disease, it is not called love based on the symptoms. It is called teenage angst, teenage rebellion, puppy love. When you fall in love you think that that is the most important thing in this world, not global warming, financial crisis or world justice. And the cure is also simple, it is called growing up.

The sci-fi movie “Equilibrium”, starred by Christian Bale and Sean, explored this theme much better. The disease is the human emotion, which sometime hinder us from using rational thought. So the entire population is vaccinated to suppress the emotion. But when emotion is taken, we are half the human we are.

This book (and the following series) definitely aims for teenagers with their daily routine problems: not allowed by parent to go to wild parties, listening to trash music, going out with boyfriends. And the parents supposedly create this dystopia. In the eyes of teenagers, every parents are fascist, then. The entire book is built on this premise: an analogy of teenage rebellion against parental authority. Maybe this is the cause of the booming of this book, because it touch the reality faced by teenagers.

But again, this is not a sci-fi novel. I give it a two star instead of one only because it is well written, especially the note before every chapter. The nursery rhyme is the best part. Otherwise it is simply worthless.

Verdict 2/5

h1

Fahrenheit 451

November 6, 2012

This one is not related with Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11. This book is a classic, by Ray Bradbury.

Well, I consider myself really late in joining the wagon of Fahrenheit 451, considering it is written in 1953. Maybe it is because it is out-shined by the other more well-known dystopia: 1984 and Brave New World. But again, better late than never.

The book tells a story from a world without books, when you have a Gestapo-like-secret-police (which is played by fire fighters! believe it or not), which will burn all of your books if you are stashing them.

The idea itself quite surprised me, especially since it was written before the era of TV and Internet like nowadays. Only a genius can write something like this, predicting the future decades ahead. The writer concerned about the decline of reading culture, taken over by audio-visual culture, such as TV and now, the Internet. When everything is about entertainment, politics, news, even crime scene and the advance of REALITY SHOW!. How close can it be to nowadays reality.

His premise is quite believable. Even some publisher in my country are afraid to print books which are sensitive, afraid that it might offend certain group. Just months ago, the publisher burn the book because of the pressure of religious group, a book writer which are beaten because her ideas are blasphemous. If this continues, the days when publishers stop publishing books about ideas, because it might offend people, are closer than we think.

This books are inline with Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is The Message
and Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. They are the prophets who shout in the middle of the desert, “Beware you commoners, thy world is bleak as long as you are stuck in front of your TV! Read books! Think for yourself.”

This book remind me why I love sci-fi books. Because of its prophetic nature. The only cause I do not give a five star is because its rambling dialogue. I still prefer Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death, even though it is a non-fiction, because it is more entertaining.

Verdict: 4/5

h1

Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business

November 3, 2012

In one word. Damned good. This is what I called a prophetic writing.

This book is a lamentation of a dying culture, the typographic culture, now being replace by audiovisual culture. The decline has been shown in many books, but never been stated as beautiful and engaging as Postman.

Postman himself, is not the vanguard, he is merely following the footsteps of the prophet before him, Marshall McLuhan. McLuhan has seen that this new culture technology had bring its own nature. The new technology is not just a new medium to carry the old message. It is creating it’s own message.

The audiovisual culture, the TV culture, makes any information becomes brief, disconnected and wrapped it into an entertainment. People start to loose the big picture and the deep analysis. We are always cut by the anchor, because we are nearing the end of the show, or we have to give a break for the advertisement. Postman hits the bulls-eye when he stated that in the good old days, the USA president candidates were given hours to give the address in a debate, not a merely 10 minute. And the debate can be as long as SIX hours, and even more! And people listened! A boy working in tool-shop can be found with a copy of Thomas Paine. To compare it with a contemporary setting, it would be like seeing a waiter with a copy of John Rawls or Amartya Sen. People has simply stop reading and just watching TV.

Postman sees this as a mark for the decline of our civilization. People are becoming obsessed by the trivial information offered by TV, who won the American Idols, for example. TV has indeed revolutionized our civilization. We have passed agricultural age, industrial age, information age, we are now in ENTERTAINMENT AGE. Everything is about entertainment: religion, politics, educations, everything. If it’s not entertaining, it is not good.

I would say this book is a must-read for all of us. And now, we are all immersed into the Internet era, with facebook and twitter. Ask an average teenager about what do they know, and they know only about thing that they know from facebook or twitter. We are becoming more and more ignorant. It is sad to know that, because Internet has the capability of becoming a world wide knowledge distributor, but instead it has become a junk information distributor.