Posts Tagged ‘resensi buku’

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Gathering Blue

August 25, 2015

Gathering Blue (The Giver, #2)I have to admit that I like this one better than The Giver. The writing is better, the pacing is also better. I finished it faster simply because I cannot help to find out what is going to happen on the next page.

Many other reviewers complained that they didn’t like this book simply because it is not continuing Jonas’ story line. I am not on their side. Lois Lowry is indeed continuing the story in greater scale, which means she introduced what is going on in the other community, in Jonas’ world. Of course the world is much bigger then Jonas’ own community. The story of Jonas will have to wait.

The story is told in a more sophisticated way. I like the way the author introduced “new” vocabularies unique within the community. I also like the way she includes puzzle for us to solve: (view spoiler). There is an aura of mystery also, in age proper description. And also the sense of adventure that is a bit missing in the first book.

I cannot help again by comparing this book with The City of Ember series. City of Ember, I would say, is better in the world building, and creating a technotopia (my own word for technology related utopia/dystopia), while The Giver series is a mystitopia (a mystique utopia/dystopia). The mystique is getting denser in the second book and I love it.

This book indeed creates a greater horizon for the series and I am greatly satisfied. This is indeed one of the best series for children that I would recommend for everyone.

four star

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Yesterday’s Kin

August 18, 2015

Yesterday's KinIt is everything that you can expect from Nancy Kress. It is a solid hard sci-fi, with some revelation made. I cannot help but to compare it with her previous novel that I read, Steal Across the Sky. I have the same feel when I read both novel. Both are related with alien encounter. Both also related with human genetics. Both also bring new revelation about our ancestor. I cannot help also to say that Steal Across the Sky has given me greater impact than this novel.

The novel is told using 2 POV, a researcher, stumbled on something that catch the attention of some aliens; and her son, an ignorant commoner. And the story is pretty much told from the circle of this family, and some closed friends. The story started with an alien encounter, with a hidden agenda. Once the agenda is not hidden, chaos followed.

First of all, this is a thin novel, only a little bit thicker than a novelette. I finished it in one sitting, without a sweat. I give a merit to Nancy because the flow of the novel is so great that it does not give me any speed bump while reading it. But unfortunately, being so thin, you cannot pack too may ideas inside it. Nancy has been doing well in packing all the necessary ideas inside this novel, plus the story, without making it too preachy with technical details.

Now, the down side. Nancy Kress has try to simplify the plot by ignoring all chaos that happened outside the labs. But even by cutting that parts away, she is still missing some interesting dynamics that might happened in her closed circle family and among her lab crews. It should be more interesting if she has more pages to write.

So, that is my final thought, it feels a bit incomplete. It feels that it ends too abruptly. And the final twist is a bit an anticlimactic. Sorry Nancy, only 3 out of 5 this time.

Additional Note (critical review with spoilers)

The hypothesis of Nancy Kress regarding the alien civilization is interesting. She hypothesized that due the more benign planet that the alien inhabited, they became a more cooperative society, compared to ours. And because they are more cooperative, they are far more advanced than we. That hypothesis needs to be explored at least another one hundred pages. Maybe in debates between alien and human, maybe in some scene when the alien are confused about our competitive, self-interested, individualized and obsessive behavior.

three star

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Worlds

August 11, 2015

WorldsWorlds is an ambitious attempt by Joe Haldeman. The title itself is revealing; it is a story of many worlds. Mankind is starting its next colonization, conquering spaces. Many giant space stations are built as new human habitats. Man also starts mining the moon and asteroids. A new interplanetary politics is building, between the old earth and the Worlds.

The premise is interesting, new politics caused by the new colonization, while the old earth is trapped in conservatism and ecology disaster. But it looks like that the author failed to capitalized it. I cannot help but to compared it with Red Mars, by Kim Stanley Robinson. The premise is almost the same; the colonization of Mars creates a new tension in politics. Where Robinson succeed, Haldeman failed.

The first third of the novel is very good. The characters are properly introduced and the world building is amazing. Haldeman successfully captured the new culture caused by the separation from earth quite well. I would give FOUR STAR for the first third. But the second third, when the main character, Mariane O’Hara starts her campus life, it is plain boring. The details do not add well to the story. Instead of building the story, I find it as impediments to the main plot. The revolution spirit is not well captured. Maybe it is caused by the usage of just one POV, Marianne, which herself is almost oblivious the revolution. TWO STAR only for this part. For the final third, the story is improving. The revolution starts, and Marianne find herself in it, helpless and hopeless. The tension is well built. THREE STAR for the last part. So, on average, I give this novel a THREE STAR. Not great, but not bad as well, exactly is the middle.

I would say that this novel is not Haldeman’s best. Nice to read, but not really engaging.

(I GET THE COPY OF THIS NOVEL FROM NETGALLEY)

three star

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Half a World

August 4, 2015

Half the World (Shattered Sea, #2)The timing of the publication date is just perfect, after I finished reading Half a King, the first novel of the series. So everything is still fresh in my mind.

I started reading this novel with high hope, to continue the misadventure of Yarvi, or now Father Yarvi. Unfortunately he is taken off from the center stage, just being a supporting role. The leading characters now are (typical) two teenagers, Thorn, a female fighter, and Brand, a big and handsome young boy. Somehow I always imagine Brand as Samwise Gamgee in LoTR or Samwell Tarly in GoT. For Thorn, a younger version of Angelina Jolie, perhaps.

And so, the story continues. Gettland is on the brink of war, and it is in desperate need of allies. Father Yarvi is on the mission. And accidentally he met these two outcast youngsters, and took them under his wings (one on each side, perhaps). It is supposed to be an interesting adventure, but somehow it is below par if you compare it with the previous Yarvi’s adventure. It is a typical coming-of-age adventure, without the wit, cynicism, and struggle like Yarvi’s. It does not differ much from any typical YA fantasy. Yes, of course, Abercrombie writes much better than a typical YA author, but still, it is below his standard form. Well, I miss Yarvi on the center stage, and those two teenagers definitely cannot replace him.

The plot is above average, you have many unpredictable twist, which is fun. Some small details are added, to be wrapped up beautifully in the end, with a fine knot. This is typical Abercrombie that I like. Unfortunately the plot still cannot save the weakness in the characters (Thorn and Brand). No matter how interesting is the plot, it feels like it still lacks some ingredients. In conclusion, this novel needs a major overhaul in the next installment, if Abercrombie wants to keep his throne as one of the best fantasy writer.

PS: Most likely, I can measure how much I like a book by listing how many memorable quotes from the book. And from this one, not many.
And I can create a quote which is better than Abercrombie’s too:

“Where can you find allies if half of the world is against you?”
“The other half, where else?”


(Original quote: “Where do we find allies?”
Father Yarvi smiled. “Among our enemies, where else?”)

three star

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Forever War

July 28, 2015

The Forever War (The Forever War, #1)This novel is indeed a classic. I can understand why it holds its place at the sci-fi hall of fame.

It is indeed the product of its age; America is deeply involved in the Vietnam war, many young men were conscripted, antiwar sentiment were raised due to the involvement of the unintended and unwanted war. You can see those parallels in this novel.

The story circles around a young (and then “very old”) soldier Mandella, who is drafted without his consent, due to the Elite Conscription Act, a law passed to conscript high IQ young men and women to fight extraterrestrials in another system far far away from solar systems. The first time setting is the near future, and then continues to about one thousand years. The military also has overcome the male-female bias. Each draftee is sterilized, eggs and sperms stored in cold storage for later use. The concept of “confraternity” is introduced, where male and female soldiers live in the same quarter. Promiscuity is actually encouraged to strengthen the bond, while exclusive partnership is discouraged because it will create tension and competition.

Since it is decades after the first publishing, I feel that the war issue is about outdated. The strongest part of this novel is not even the war scene. It is the social changes caused by war that is interesting. How the politics changes, the economy booms and collapsed, etc.

Despite the outdated war issue, the gender issue and clash of civilization are still contemporary. The heterosexual vs. homosexual orientation is widely discussed. Imagine when heterosexual became the outlier, while homosexual is the new normality. Imagine that you, being heterosexual is seen as an aberration and everyone wants to cure you. After reading this novel I can sympathized with my LGBT friends.

Clash between cultures (or in this case: species) is also the center theme. Many meaningless wars happened just because we cannot communicate with each other. Once we can understand each other, the war seems to be so puny. And in a long term, all wars might sound so silly. Imagine Japanese people that is portrayed as yellow skin savages that fight the allies. Now all of those image has lost, replaced by the uber-cute techno culture spread by the anime and manga. I can imagine that will also happened to the so-called Islamic terrorist right now. Imagine how would we see them decades from now.

The best part of this novel is the time dilation caused by the near-light-speed travel. It is something that is usually omitted in common space opera. It is just like the issue dealt in the movie “Interstellar”. It is something that should be faced by a star faring civilization.

Overall, a solid 4 stars. If Haldeman makes a more interesting war scene, I will give it a 5 stars.

four star

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A Canticle for Leibowitz

March 5, 2013

A Canticle for LeibowitzIt is not common for a novel to make me feel emotional. This novel is one of them. It makes me sad, as well as optimistic, pondering upon the fate of our human species. So special, yet so stubborn.

The story spans for millennia. It is divided into three parts, each forward the timeline about 600 years. It begins from the aftermath of a global nuclear war (a.k.a. the Flame Deluge) that destroyed all technological advance, leaving humankind to survive with medieval technology and scraps of advance knowledge, waiting to be awaken.

Spanning for such a long period, there are no characters for you to follow from the beginning to the end, except for one mysterious character that seems to be always there. But he is acting as a watcher, instead of the main character. There is only one thing that is common in the story line: the Order of Saint Leibowitz, an order of secluded monks vowed to keep the record of “ancient technology”, hence the title.

The tension in this book is heavy. You can see the tension between the progressive vs conservative, religious vs secular, peace maker vs military, militant vs opportunist. It is this kind of tension that makes this novel very interesting. And also seeing that our human nature does not really change, no matter what technological level we are currently in.

This novel also carries the same tone as The Foundation Trilogy: a small group of humankind, dedicated to preserve human civilization at all cost. I love the trilogy, of course. It feels like we are actually reading a real history. It makes you really respects the Arabs who translated the ancient Greek, the Renaissance movement who brought the Greek and Romans text back to Europe, the monks who kept the records and diligently copying them without understanding them. They are the true hero or our human civilization. Salute!

Finally, I will put this novel in the throne of the best post-apocalyptic science-fiction, side-by-side with World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. A 5 star!

Note: The heavy doses of Latin might hinder some readers to enjoy this novel. There are also a lot of references to the Catholic faith. Uncle google is always helpful of course.

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The Windup Girl

February 26, 2013

The Windup GirlThe setting is Bangkok, the capital of the Thai Kingdom, one of not so many surviving countries from the apocalypse. The sea level is rising, crops were destroyed by genetically modified plant disease and pest. And Thai survived because of the visionary leadership of Her Royalty. The story is told from four POV: an undercover company agent sent to Thailand to uncover the secret of Thailand reserve of gene, a Malaysian Chinese refugee who left his country because of religious riots, a Thai environmental police enforcer, and finally a windup girl, a genetically modified human.

I think I want to explain a little bit about the word “windup”. “Windup” is an action that you do when you turn the spring to power a clock, like the key that you turn for a windup toys. Windup girl is a nickname because of the movement she made, which is like a windup toys, a tick-tock movement. They are created that way.

The detail in this novel is very engaging. The writer’s imagination of the post-peak-oil world is very vivid. Coal and gas are extremely rare. The only form of energy that you can depend on is muscle power. The author shows you the world from the POV characters slowly, without giving you too much information dump. The story is told in a very personal way, not from a bird eye view. So you will have to create your own picture of the world, then finally you realize the kind of world they are living in.

The plot is quite complex, you have lots of intrigue, one character played against another character. There are no real protagonist and antagonist. Everyone is for their own agenda and survival. And all of their fate is tangled in the middle of this creature, the windup girl. Finally, what this novel all about, is survival. We all fight to survive, in our own way, in our own term.

I am also impressed by the usage of many language in this book. You have Thais, Chinese, even Malay. The author used the word: kopi, nasi goreng, and rambutan. Actually rambutan has a very important plot point is this novel. The author is really doing his homework .

Finally, this novel is important because it is a front runner of a new apocalyptic and dystopian theme. We are going to see more sci-fi novels in this theme in the future. The nuclear war scare are pretty much behind us. Now we have environmental problem, energy crisis, terrorism, maybe an impending religious war, at least in small scale. It is beautifully (or scarily) captured by the author.

There is one thing that I love most about this novel: the political statement of the writer. In this novel, the Thai government violated the international law of intellectual right to the people. Go to hell with the patent law, if they keep people poor and dying, because they do not have enough money to access genetically enhance crops or medicine.

Final verdict: a strong 4 star. I am still not drag into the story. Lack the final zest

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Among Others

February 19, 2013

Among OthersYou might find this book in fantasy rack in bookstore. But for me, it is more than a mere fantasy books. Some reviewers classify this book as “magical realism”, it rings some truth in my opinion. It is a book about growing up, psychology and the love of sci-fi.

At the face value, this book is a journal of a-15-years-old girl, who happened to study at an elite boarding school. Her background as a Welsh (among other English student) as well as her crippled leg makes her living there “special”. Since she was young, she can see fairies and communicates with them. She can also perform magic guided by the fairies.

“Magic” in this book is unique. It is not the kind of magic that you see in common fantasy books. As I said in the beginning, magic in this book looks “real”; sometimes it is not easy to draw a fine line bordering magic and real life. As stated in this book, it is not easy to believe in magic, because it is so easy to disprove it. You can say that it is merely coincidence, or simply science. It is all in the eyes of beholder.

On the other hand, it is also not easy to draw a line whether this book is a fantasy book or a literature (I myself do not like to classify books as literature or not. Books are books. Fictions are fictions.) You can see it as a fantasy book, but you can see it also a psychological book, telling the inner struggle of a teenager trying to cope with her difficult life, a mental mother and loosing a sibling through car accident. Those makes this books so rich that you can read it several times, and it will give you different feel and interpretation. I think, this is why this book won a lot of awards.

As a huge fans of sci-fi and fantasy books, I identify myself a lot with the protagonist character in this book. I get myself completely hooked! So I might be biased in reviewing this book.

I find this book best described as a tribute to all science fiction and fantasy author. (Just like the book The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a tribute to film making.) And by the end it is her love of books that save her life.

A solid 4 star, and for science fiction lover, a 5 star.

P.S. : By the end of this book, I guarantee you that you are going to have a list of to-read books in science fiction and fantasy genre.

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Christ The Lord, Proyek Ambisius Anne Rice

May 4, 2009

outofegyptAnda mungkin sudah tahu cerita2 vampirnya Anne Rice yang sempat difilmkan menjadi Interview with the Vampire dengan tokoh Lestat-nya. Begitu pula dengan film yang tidak begitu bagus Queen of the Damned yang juga diilhami oleh bukunya. Ia emang mbahnya cerita vampir, for newbies sorry, bukan Stephenie Meyer.

Kali ini ia merambah dunia yang meskipun terlihat bedanya langit dan bumi, namun seperti diakui Anne Rice dibukunya, ia selama ini menulis novelnya selalu dengan penelitian sejarah. Namun sejarah yang ditulisnya kali ini bukan sejarah sembarangan, sejarah Yesus sendiri, yang diimani oleh milyaran orang di muka bumi ini. Read the rest of this entry ?