Recently Read vol. 2

recently read 2

Critical Eleven by Ika Natassa

Ika Natassa has always been one of my favorite writers, and let’s admit it, she’s a marketing savvy. Long before this book was published, she’d made her loyal readers anticipate the launching. As expected, the launch was sensational, and so I grabbed this book at the earliest opportunity and dived into the story.

This book tells a story about a couple, Ale and Anya, who are struggling to save their marriage after a recent hardship. It’s written in alternating point of view, so we get both sides of the stories. Now, I’d expected this book to be a tear-jerker, seeing how people claimed they bawled their eyes out when reading it. It didn’t happen to me, because I was SO annoyed with the wife, Anya. With her excessive whining and self-pity, I found it hard to sympathize. Maybe it’s meant to touch the readers, but it failed me.

The narrative is not that great too, as I feel there’s just too much information Natassa wants to give in the book, but fails to write in flowing sentences. In some parts, I felt like I was reading a pamphlet. If you’ve read her other books before, you’ll see that in this book she tried to venture other jobs for her characters rather than her own, a banker. But unfortunately, I found that it seems unnatural, like the details are forced to paint the life of a consultant and a petroleum engineer (based offshore, no less). While in her other books the details of a banker’s life contribute to the story and makes it seems real, it’s not like that in this book. I really think this book can’t be compared to her other books, as it’s a bit disappointing. I wouldn’t recommend Critical Eleven to anyone, but I know there are people who think it’s her best piece, so go on and try reading it if you’re curious.

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson

I’ll admit that ‘don’t judge a book by its cover‘ has never really worked that well for me. Cute covers and bright colors are my weaknesses, and although I always google a book and check the review before buying it, sometimes things could still go wrong. This book is one of those cases.

The story is centered about Alan, who celebrates his 100th birthday by jumping out of his window (as clearly explained by the title), embarking on a seemingly fabulous adventure involving a drug dealer, an elephant, and a bunch of other things you wouldn’t expect. In between the chapters, his past adventures are also revealed. They sound great, too. He has dinner with President Harry Truman, hitchhikes with Winston Churchill, travels with Mao Zedong’s wife, and other incredible things, all done casually with an astonishing string of luck.

One word for this book: BORING. You’d think all those great tales would make a spectacular story, and a lot of people seem to agree, given the high ratings of the book. Maybe I’m the weird one, as I was slowly dying while reading this book. This book doesn’t have something to keep me going. All the luck Alan has is just too much and ridiculous. It was a struggle to finish, and in the end, I felt like I’d wasted my time with this book. Not my favorite.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

This book has got really popular in the past few months, and so I bought it to see what the fuss was all about, with reviews saying it’s ‘The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor and Park.‘ Since I absolutely loved those two books, my expectation went up through the roof.

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet in the most unexpected circumstances, and forge a friendship from then on. Violet is still deeply affected by the death of her sister a year before, while Finch toys with the idea of death. One day, Finch suddenly disappeared, leaving clues all over the place for Violet to find him.

Sounds familiar? If you think about Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska, yes, those were what I had in mind. I kept going on, hoping there would be differences along the way. By the time I was finished, I was a bit disappointed. While this book is beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time (my kind of book!), I wasn’t impressed with the plot. It seems like the author followed the established path of popular YA books these days, and I can’t help but wonder if this would only be a one-hit wonder. Granted, it’s a great book, and if you like John Green you’ll probably like this too, albeit the unsurprising plot.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

Put an eye-catching cover and an intriguing title, and you’d succeed in grabbing the readers’ attention. This book did just that to me, and the excerpt piqued my interest. I googled it, and found out that the author was also a screenwriter who was involved in Arrested Development, Mad About You, Saturday Night Live, Beverly Hills, and 90210, to name a few. I was sold.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette is an epistolary novel. Bernadette is a former architect with a bright daughter, Bee. As a gift for Bee’s exceptional achievement in school, the family plans a trip to Antarctica, as Bee wishes. Things get interesting when Bernadette suddenly disappears. Bee tries to find her mother through a series of emails, documents, and articles, and gets to know her family more along the way.

I’ve always loved epistolary novels as they’re usually more casual and personal, and this book is no exception. In a way, I could relate to Bernadette, as her hatred for Seattle seems on a par with my hatred for Jakarta. What’s more, Semple makes this book so effortless to read, and yet it’s still a page-turner. I’d definitely recommend this book for anyone who wants to read something light after a long day at work.

Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

Sophie Kinsella is famous for her pieces in chick lit, with The Shopaholic series being her most renowned work. When I heard that she wrote a book for YA, I got curious.

Audrey suffers from a chronic anxiety disorder which stops her from meeting people, even her old friends. She stops talking to her friends, stays at home, and goes to her therapist from time to time. Her therapist suggests her to make a film as a way for her to face the world, so she does. Things get interesting when she meets her brother’s friend, Linus, who helps her overcome her problems and interact with the world outside.

Kinsella has a knack for creating heartwarming stories with a touch of comedy. With this book, she’s proven that she can write something other than chick lit, and surprisingly well, too. I couldn’t relate to this book as much as I could with her other books, but I think that has something to do with my age (oops). I like it, and I think if my 15 year-old self read this book, this would easily become her favorite book.

Fractured by Dani Atkins

I found Fractured through the list of free books on Kindle, and since I never say no to free books (or anything free, for that matter), I got it and started reading it straight away.

Just before going to university, Rachel got in an accident. She lost her best friend, and her guilt caused her to plunge into depression. Five years later, the accident still impacts her mentally, and she seems unable to enjoy life. That is, until she wakes up one morning in the hospital, to find that the horrible things after the accident didn’t happen. Her best friend is still alive, her face isn’t scarred, and she’s got her dream job. But the thing is, she doesn’t remember any of this part of life. What she remembers is her other life, where the accident caused her so much grief.

The story about parallel universe is not something new, but this is my first read about that topic, so I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a bit over-written sometimes, but still a pleasure to read. Although I could somehow guess the ending, there are still surprises in the detailed explanation, and that alone left a big impression on me. It’s light and heartbreaking, and definitely well worth a read. I’m looking forward to reading more from Dani Atkins.

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  • Reply southamptonoldlady

    At last a chance to reply while it is on the reader blog. The secret to holiday blues is to plan your next one. Love your blog – keep up the good work

    September 27, 2015 at 5:46 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Hi, I think this comment is for the other post? 😀
      I agree with you, I need to start planning for the next holiday. Thank you for the comment 🙂

      September 28, 2015 at 12:16 am
  • Reply denaldd

    Aku baca buku Ika Natassa yang sebelumnya 2 kali (lupa judulnya, saking ga terlalu melekat haha). Dan karena tipikal tokoh2nya hampir sama, too good to be true, setelahnya malas untuk baca lagi. Tapi aku akui, cara dia memasarkan bukunya sangat diacungin jempol. Marketingnya hebat. Salut

    October 3, 2015 at 6:44 pm
    • Reply Dixiezetha

      Nah iyaa, tokoh2nya selalu mirip dan too good to be true. Aku jg bacanya biasa aja, ga nancep yang gimana gitu ceritanya. Kayaknya selera buku kita sama Mbak Deni 😀

      October 5, 2015 at 5:56 am

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