Abarat

My 2013 in books

It’s that time of the year where I wrap up all of my reading experience for the last 12 months. My Goodreads reading challenge was to read 52 books in 2013. It was quite difficult in the middle, and it looked like I was about to fail. But I managed to catch up (and maybe cheated a bit) and ended up reading more than 52 books! Here’s the list!

1. Enderverse books by Orson Scott Card
I finally finished all the books in the series. The ones I read in 2013 were: Shadow Puppets, Shadow of the Giant, Shadows in Flight, A War of Gifts, Ender in Exile, First Meetings, Earth Unaware, and Earth Afire. Duh! Greatest sci-fi series ever! Didn’t review the books, but I did review the movie here.
2. Star Wars, Lost Tribe of the Sith: Precipice by John Jackson Miller
3. Lupus Kecil: Sakit, Lah, Dekh, Donk, Weew! by Hilman & Boim
4. His Dark Material series by Philip Pullman
The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass, Lyra’s Oxford, and Once Upon A Time in the North. Somehow better than Harry Potter. Basically about a child trying to stop her father from killing God.
5. M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman
6. A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. Best epic ever since The Lord of the Rings.
7. Inferno by Dan Brown
8. The Fuzzy series by H. Beam Piper
Little Fuzzy, Fuzzy Sapiens, Fuzzies and Other People. Classic sci-fi.
9. Balada Si Roy series by Gol A Gong
Book 1 and 2
10. All the Wrong Questions series by Lemony Snicket
Book 1 and 2. Always perfect. Lemony Snicket rarely goes wrong.
11. The Naked Traveler by Trinity
12. The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
JK Rowling is in love with crime fiction.
13. Sci-Fi 1.0: Kumpulan Cerpen Fiksi Ilmiah Indonesia edited by Ismanto Hadi Saputro
Bad. Really bad. I was embarrassed to read this.
14. The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis
15. Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
Because proper authors write fanfictions too.
16. Every Day by David Levithan
17. American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Great book. Truly. I was honored to ever read this.
18. Abarat series by Clive Barker
Abarat; Days of Magic, Nights of War; Absolute Midnight. Only reviewed Absolute Midnight here.
19. Night Film by Marisha Pessl
EVERYBODY MUST READ THIS BOOK. And her debut novel too.
20. Ranah 3 Warna by A. Fuadi
21. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
In fandom words, it’s an Islam!AU fantasy.
22. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
In fandom words -oh fuck it- every fangirl must read this, really.
23. James Potter and the Hall of Elders’ Crossing by G. Norman Lippert
24. The Arm of the Starfish by Madeleine L’Engle
Review here.
25. Attack on Titan series by Hajime Isayama
Japanese manga, read volume 1 to 12.
26. Dragons in the Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
Review here.
27. Divergent series by Veronica Roth
Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant. Review here.
28. Bossypants by Tina Fey
Review here.
29. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer
Review here.
30. Mango Seasons by Michelle Cruz Skinner
Review here.
31. Fantasy Fiesta 2010: Antologi Cerita Fantasi Terbaik 2010 edited by R. D. Villam
This anthology gave me so much hope for Indonesian fantasy genre.
32. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Review here.
33. Across the Universe by Beth Ravis
Book 1 and 2. Somehow reminds me of Divergent, except it’s better. As a matter of fact, I’m in the middle of reading the sequel (third book) now.

And I thought I was busy! Turns out I wasn’t that busy to miss these 50+ books. It’s been a great year of books for me, cos it feels like I’ve been catching up. I used to read a lot, then somehow I stopped reading as much, especially when I started to work. But now I’ve caught up and it feels glorious to be back in this familiar sphere of words. Not only that, now that I can finally afford to get books on my own, I’ve been shopping a lot!

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Books I bought in 2013. More are still coming, will arrive on my doorstep next year. And I actually forgot to add 2 books to the stacks. Some are still wrapped. They’re all over the place right now cos I’m running out of shelves.

As satisfying as my reading experience has been, some books are still bad. So I made a mini personal awards of my own.

Best Book of the Year: Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Worst Book of the Year: Sci-Fi 1.0: Kumpulan Cerpen Fiksi Ilmiah Indonesia edited by Ismanto Hadi Saputro
Best Fantasy Book of the Year: A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin
Worst Fantasy Book of the Year: Sci-Fi 1.0: Kumpulan Cerpen Fiksi Ilmiah Indonesia edited by Ismanto Hadi Saputro
Most Recommended Book: Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Most Recommended Collection: Abarat series by Clive Barker
Most Overrated: Inferno by Dan Brown
Most Underrated: His Dark Material series by Philip Pullman
Most Favorite: everything in the Enderverse of course ♥

I think that basically summed up my year 2013 in literature. Reading 52 books in a year has been really hard, I don’t think I’m gonna do it again next year. I think I’ll just stick to at least 12 books and focus more on writing stories of my own and book reviews. It’s time to slow down and relax. I got a couple of half-finished manuscripts and I have to submit at least one of them to a publisher before April. Just a personal goal of mine. There’s my literary wishlist of 2014 too, so yes, I’m still going strong on building my own mini library. I want to read non-fiction more than fiction though next year, just so I won’t get bored.

This is just the beginning, my friends! In 2014, I read less, but in a way I also read more. I want to contribute a lot more in regards to books, since now I’ve realized that it’s the only thing I gladly work on without any complaints. Many great books are coming in 2014 and I hope I’ll get to discuss them with you.

Keep reading, folks. ♥

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Abarat: Absolute Midnight by Clive Barker


First published in 2011

It’s so hard to write this, because it’s Abarat. Often I have no word for it.

“There’ll be no sun tomorrow morning.
There’ll be no moon to bless the night.
The stars will perish without warning.
These lines proclaim the death of light.”
-Epigraph of the third book of Abarat

Abarat is a five-book series that takes forever to be written, because, well, with a universe as rich as this, it’s no wonder Clive Barker taking his own sweet time to make everything perfect. It’s a story about Candy, the 15 yo who leaves her boring life in Chickentown for an adventure in Abarat. That one-sentence description is an understatement. Trust me. Whatever you see and find in Abarat is something you’ve never found anywhere else. Seriously. Thankfully, Clive Barker also provided us with a number of illustrations regarding this magical universe he’s created. It helps a lot. The characters, the places, the imagery, the mythology, everything is so out of the box, it’s so hard to grasp it sometimes. I had to reread the first two books in order to read this third one. Even then, I still don’t think I’ve grasped everything.

In the third book, Candy has to help Abarat from being taken over by the Absolute Midnight. It’s a state of absolute darkness, where even stars will be extinguished out of the sky. It’s supposed to be a grand coming-of-age adventure, yet it’s given me so many mixed up feelings, especially of heartbreaks. Many times I had to put the books down for a minute and take a deep breath. It’s not supposed to be heartbreaking. I didn’t expect this.

If in the second book we found the sad love story between an angel and a flower, here we’d find a story of a mother who had two sons. The first son is the son she created out of all the good in her, which resulted in a dull boy, and thus she resented him for it. So she created a second son out of all the evil in her, a charming darkness that she loved so much. What follows is a tragedy. And it’s only the beginning of the story. Why is this happening?

Then there’s also Candy, going through pain to get the monster inside out of herself, only to find herself feeling empty afterwards. Then she starts to wonder if everything she’s done was done because of herself, or because of that monster she used to have in her head. I think we can all relate to that.

“No need to fear the beast
That comes alone to your door,
For loneliness will be its undoing
Nor need you fear those beasts
That hunt in packs.
They will die when divided from their clan.
Fear only the one
That does not come at all.
It is already here, standing in your shoes.”
-The last sermon of Bishop Nautyress from the third book of Abarat

And of course, how can I not mention the love story between Candy and Gazza, the fisherman. It’s sweet, magical, and comical. It makes me laugh every time. But then my heart goes to Malingo in all of these, the geshrat who has been with Candy since the beginning. The subtle broken heart he has inside knowing that Gazza loves her as much as he does.

Talking about Malingo, I think it’s pretty obvious that he’s my favorite character in the story. He’s a tall creature from a species called geshrat, born to be a slave. His father sold him in need of money, and he had been a prisoner of an evil wizard until Candy rescued him. Malingo is a painting of no matter how tall and formidable you appear to be, you still can feel very small inside, and that fear paralyzes you. If it weren’t for Candy, Malingo would never get out of his mental cage of a slave. Oh, how he loves Candy.

But that’s only to name a few! There are many stories inside this giant story and to be very honest, it will overwhelm you. I’m not sure I understand Abarat even though I’ve read the books a few times. I feel like Meg when Mrs. Whatsit explained a tesseract to her. “I saw it! I can’t explain it you, and I don’t think I understand, but for a second there I saw it.”

Abarat is so rich, powerful, and every inch of the place, every head, has a story, from the depth of the Sea of Izabella up to the highest tower in the Yebba Dim Day. If I must, I’d say it’s the equivalent of The Lord of the Rings trilogy for young adults. I don’t care if it’s a blasphemy of Tolkien’s masterpiece, but for me it’s true. Abarat is not a book you can read once. It’s a book that you must understand and analyze, then create an encyclopedia out of it.

Now I’m waiting for the 4th and 5th book to be released. I’m in no hurry.

“Hopelessness is reasonable.

But nothing of worth
in my life
came of reason.
Not my love,
not my art,
not my heaven.

So I am hopeful.
-Zephario Carrion from the third book of Abarat

PS. When you read Abarat, make sure you get the dead-tree format complete with the illustrations. Reading Abarat without the illustrations will take you into a long tunnel of hopelessness. The illustrations are important. Check out most of the illustrations here.

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In the Papers

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New books. It was one hell of a bargain from Periplus. Looking at them just makes me feel happy. Holding them and feeling the papers on my fingertips make me even happier.

Books are my escape. If I’m being truly, truly honest with myself, then books are my passion. I can spend all day reading and marveling at books. I want to have a huge library where I can read and write, where I never have to go out and face the real world.

Books are intimate. It’s personal. It’s speaking without speaking. It’s what I want to be with for the rest of my days. Just me and the characters that feel closer sometimes than real people.

Today has been hard. I’m going to pick up Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”, because I need to laugh right now.

Witch, do this for me:
Find me a moon made of longing.
Then cut it sliver thin, and having cut it, hang it high above my beloved’s house, so that she may look up tonight and see it, and seeing it, sigh for me as I sigh for her, moon or no moon.
-Christopher Carrion from The Second Book of Abarat by Clive Barker

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Book(s) That I Wish More People Would’ve Read

Day 24 of the 30-day book challenge

Actually, the books I read are pretty mainstream in their respective genres. However, fantasy/sci-fi isn’t really mainstream here in Indonesia. So when I say people (see title), I mostly refer to Indonesians. Here goes:

– Cinta di Dalam Gelas and Sebelas Patriot, both by Andrea Hirata
– A Wrinkle In Time by Madeleine L’Engle
– Abarat by Clive Barker
– Gadjah Mada the series by Langit Kresna Hariadi
– Kisah Lainnya by Ariel Uki Lukman Reza David
– His Dark Material the series by Philip Pullman
– Nibiru & Ksatria Atlantis by Tasaro GK
– All of Lemony Snicket’s books
– Animorphs by K. A. Applegate
– Skellig by David Almond
– All of Sekar Ayu Asmara’s books

I can’t think of what else right now.

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