Selasa, 7 Januari 2014

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

Klik GAMBAR Dibawah Untuk Lebih Info
Sumber Asal Berita :-

The Star Online: Lifestyle: Bookshelf

The Arrivals

Posted: 06 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

IT'S been a while since I've come across a story set in a fantasy equivalent of the Wild West. In fact, I can't remember the last time I actually read a book with this background, although the last Western-like fantasy movie I watched was probably Oz: The Great And Powerful with James Franco last year.

The blurb at the back of this book gives no indication of the book's setting. But that didn't bug me. What did bug me was the fact that it seemed to indicate that modern-day girl Chloe is the protagonist of this story, when she isn't. Sue me, but I like my blurbs to be accurate.

Anyway, the main protagonists of The Arrivals are actually siblings Jack and Kitty Reed, who, coincidentally, do originate from America's Wild West period (circa the late 1800s). They were the first ones to be brought over from Earth to the other dimension known as the Wasteland.

No one knows why they were transported from their homes to this fantasy equivalent of cowboy frontierland, nor how it was done.All the Arrivals know is that they don't age in the Wasteland, and when they die there, it might or might not be permanent. In addition, Kitty, out of all of them, has the ability to perform spells – a talent she prefers to hide as she feels it sets her too much apart from the others.

Over the years since the Reeds' arrival, others have appeared one by one in the Wasteland, usually after the permanent death of one of the other Arrivals. They come from a range of times, with the latest being Chloe from 2013.

And all of them have killed at least one person in their lives on Earth.Surprisingly, they also all come from the United States.

In the 26 years they have been in the Wasteland, the Reeds have formed a loose team of sorts with the other Arrivals, providing protective and negotiating services to the governor of the Wasteland and its wealthy private citizens, but generally working for the good of the land.

This is unlike their nemesis, the mysterious Ajani, who is exploiting the land for the sake of his profits. In addition, Ajani tries to get as many new Arrivals into his employment as possible; a task made easier by the fact that none of the Arrivals working for him have ever died permanently. The death of one of their team members, Mary, during what is supposed to be a peaceful negotiation with a group of magic-wielding monks, trigge rs a series of events that eventually leads the Reeds to discover who Ajani really is, and the reason the Arrivals have been plucked from their times and thrown into the Wasteland.

While Melissa Marr is generally regarded as a young adult fiction author, I feel that this book is quite adult in its tone. There's sex, violence, blood-drinking (courtesy of an important supporting character, who is a bloedzuiger – Marr's different take on a vampire), a suave but crazy villain, and even a little commentary on how greed, aka development, destroys the land. The fantasy concept is quite interesting and the characters are well-thought out.

The plot moves along quite well, although there was a tad too much exposition at various points when she describes the characters' thought processes.

Overall, it's quite an enjoyable read for what it is, but nothing that will make me want to reread it.

How To Fall In Love

Posted: 06 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

IF YOU follow closely the works of an author, you tend to more or less know the values or principles they weave into their works. With Cecilia Ahern, it's usually love. Her 10th novel since her big debut with PS I Love You, How To Fall In Love screams a miraculous journey of self-discovery to find The One. Hey, what else would you expect from Ms Ahern?

So I sat by the window, hot chocolate ready at hand, my dog curled up at my feet, and buried my nose in the book. In comes Christine Rose, standing in an abandoned housing development in Dublin, trying to persuade a Simon Conway to not blow his brains out – what a way to start a novel! The Simon Conway Experience, as Christine calls it, leaves quite a mark on our heroine. She goes home, showers, flips through her self-help book, makes breakfast for her husband, and then calmly tells him their marriage isn't working and walks out.

Finding herself financially unstable and not receiving much support from friends and family, Christine ponders downsizing her already tiny recruitment firm. That is, until an employee stumbles upon her flipping through a Six Tips On How To Fire An Employee (With Pictures) book. And just like that, support from her colleagues, too, goes up in a puff of smoke.

If that's not enough, Christine then finds herself witnessing a second suicide attempt in the very same month. She leaps into action and manages to convince this man to give life another chance, but not before striking a deal with him: to show him his life is worth living in just two weeks.

Wait, what? Two weeks? Yes, and yes. I did judge our little heroine then, now turned damsel in a highly, highly distressed situation: She's just taken the life of a stranger into her hands. Quite a sticky patch she's in!

And so, she cancels all her appointments and makes it her life's mission to save this handsome, rich, blonde stranger who goes by the name of Adam. She maps out every inch of his self-discovery route, determined to get his life back on track.

Quite frankly, I've never been a fan of self-help books. I bought one way back, and God only knows in which dark corner it's gathering dust. Yet, the way Christine Rose worships and glorifies them injects the read with humour and wit. What's more, the title of each chapter begins with a "How To" phrase. I find them simply delightful! It gives you an insight into each chapter before you plunge into it, yet if you were to dwell on the titles a little longer, you'd start connecting the dots between the titles and how they relate to your life.

It does make me wonder if that was Ahern's goal after all. My favourite chapter is "How To Dig A Hole To The Other Side Of The World." Would save hundreds on airfare, don't you think? That being said, How To Fall In Love as a whole can't be said to leave a lasting impression. Sure, it has all the right elements in place – charming moments, witty moments, and moments that tug at the very seams of your heart. But the core thing that seems to be missing is believability. So, Christine is traumatised by suicide attempts of strangers, is going through a divorce, has major financial setbacks, receives minimal support from loved ones ... yet, despite all that, she commits herself to helping a stranger sort out his very complicated life or else he'll try to jump off a bridge. Again.

Looks to me like she's bitten off more than she can chew, so do pardon me for not rooting for the damsel all the way. But then again, this is purely a Cecilia Ahern masterpiece, aimed at inspiring hope, joy, love and the belief in miracles. I dare say she's achieved that, at the very least.


0 ulasan:

Catat Ulasan


The Star Online

Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved