Penumpang: It Went Downhill in the Second Half || A Book Review

Penumpang

Author: Fee Anyau

Publisher: Buku FIXI

Released: April 27th, 2018

Genre: Fiction, Mystery

Pages: 302

Format: E-book

Characters: Jai, Eddi, Nina, Kay, John, …

Malay

Jai dihantar helaian jurnal sahabatnya Eddi yang mati membunuh diri. Dalam jurnalnya, Eddi telah menceritakan pengalamannya sebagai penumpang bas. Bagi Eddi, menumpang bas merupakan rutin yang membebaskan jiwanya.


Dalam usaha untuk menerima kenyataan tentang pemergian Eddi, dan memahami masalah yang telah membelenggu sahabatnya itu, Jai bertekad untuk mencuba menyelusuri jalan yang dipilih Eddi.


Pada masa yang sama, Jai dibebani masalah keluarga. Pemergian Eddi telah membuatkannya lebih mempersoalkan erti hidup. Di kolej, setelah kematian Eddi hampir sebulan, Nina pula memberitahu Jai bahawa dia teman wanita Eddi. Jai keliru dengan perasaannya sendiri: Adakah dia cemburu atau sangsi?

Source: Goodreads

English

This book follows Jai who is trying discover the reasons behind his best friend, Eddi’s death, why he committed suicide. He tries to live his life from his perspective by taking buses to university and other places and become a passenger (Penumpang) just like Eddi did before he died.

While trying to figure out why Eddi did so, Jai also stumbles upon many obstacles and his life was getting more miserable and disturbed.

Let me start this review by saying that I loved this book when I first started reading it. I envisioned myself giving it a 4 star at the very least. The writing style was so beautiful. It was slow but it was giving this melancholy vibe and there were also a lot of beautiful quotes. I was in love with the vibe of the book. I also really liked how the author actually did some kind of research about suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. This book has some focus and the theme was obvious, it was extremely promising.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last long. I noticed that after page 100, the plot wasn’t moving that much. All of the sudden, the second half of the book was all about making the plot moving. For me, it was messy. A lot of unnecessary scenes and people were added into the book, just for the plot to move. It feels as though the author was just plucking idea from here and there and trying so hard to make the plot works and to finish up the story. If only the author took some time to develop the plot properly and did not make things so convenient for the protagonist, I think this book would be one of my favourite this year. Can you imagine reading a book that was so calm in the first half, then you are served with dramatic, full of action plus lots of paranoid thoughts in the second half of the book?

This is going to be the spoilery part, so read this part at your own risk.

In the second half of the book, the characters start to worry over a GIRL who is potentially the cause for Eddi’s death, not for murdering but for influencing him and triggering his suicidal thoughts and leading him to commit suicide. So, she’s manipulative, but everyone in the book is acting like she’s a psycho killer coming after the main character. Only towards the end of the story, that she acted like one, and I didn’t know how to react to that.

Talking about convenient, the siblings John and Kay were created in order to help out the poor Jai who was beaten by his abusive father and ran out from his house. Very easily, John and Kay accepted Jai out of sympathy and because he reminded them of their brother who committed suicide. Jai seems troubled and they don’t want to repeat their mistake by turning him away, so they gave him a job and a cheap place to rent. Also, a lot of reasons and incidents that involve these two characters didn’t make sense to me. For example, when Kay went missing, John didn’t think of checking their house at all because the last time he searched his brother at their house, his brother was found dead. So, now, you just want to avoid your house at all cost or what? There was even funnier reason that they gave for their action at the end of the book, which I’m not gonna tell you guys, but it was honestly too ridiculous.

There were also some laughable scenes that didn’t make sense to me. The part where Jai stole a book from a kid who’s literally reading the book. Don’t do that to readers, man. Jai wanted to get the book in a bookstore earlier in the story but it was out of stock, but instead going online to buy it or search for a secondhand copy, he decided he cannot wait. So, once he saw a person reading the book, he decided to steal it and the boy ran after him. This chasing scene is just so… I have no words. There’s also another incident whereby Jai and the 2 bus drivers was chased by another car. They were in a Kancil (a very small local car) and they suspected Nina (the so called psycho girl) chased after them because she wanted to harm Jai. The way I pictured it was like that Hong Kong police movies, where the cars are chasing one another. It was exactly like that. I think what the author wanted to do was inserting thrill, excitement and drama into this book but it’s just unnecessary for me.

If I were to continue writing these scenes, I’m going to spoil the entire book. So, I’m going to leave the climax and the ending for you guys to discover your own. Roughly speaking, the climax was intense, maybe? I don’t really know at this point. The ending was not very predictable, which was good. The epilogue though, it was being told to the readers again and again throughout the book, so that part was not very surprising.

Overall, this book started off solid, then it became boring, lastly it was just messy for me. The writing style also follows the plot. The first half, it was amazing, the second half of the book, it wasn’t as strong as the first half and the language used became less poetic. It was a frustrating reading experience for me because it has potential. It highlights on so many important issues and themes, such as perspectives of life, suicidal thoughts, abusive parents, broken family, being bullied, and also mental illness. But I do hope that the author would produce more works in the future. I’ll look forward to it and it will be nice to see how much she develops her writing in the future.

Anyways, if you reach this part of the review. Thank you so much for reading this post. I used a lot of “for me” and “to me” this time around because these are all how I felt when I was reading the book. It doesn’t mean if I find it problematic, it IS problematic, because to others, it might not be a problem at all. I write this review for my fellow readers, but they still have the right to choose whether or not to pick up this book. And I never stop people from reading books that I dislike, I’d either say I don’t recommend them or “it’s up to you to pick it up or not”. Reading is subjective, you like what you like and you dislike what you dislike. Some people looking into certain aspects in a piece of writing whereas other look into other aspects. We don’t need to be the same and we can always agree to disagree. See you in my next review! 🙂

P.S: I don’t have the energy to re-write my reviews in Malay language these days, but if I do have the energy, I’d definitely write them for my Malaysian readers. Cheers!


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