Welcome to the first post of the Blogram Tour for Jai Patel‘s debut novel Escape From Happy Palace, hosted by Untitled Book Club. I’m so excited for this blog tour, because this might just be the very first blog tour for a local book! This tour is taking place on both blog and Instagram (hence the name) from May 23rd to June 15th. So, make sure to check out all the bloggers’ reviews and special content. I’ll link you to the next blogger’s review at the end of this post. Now, let’s get to my review already!
Escape From Happy Palace
Editors: Jai Patel
Publisher: Jai Patel
Released: March 2020
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Characters: Adil, Mei Mei, Joy, Loga, Shan, Ah Weng, …
Mei Mei is a runaway masseuse in Kuala Lumpur’s gritty underbelly of Chow Kit. Once the rising star of Happy Palace, she now has nothing but the clothes on her back and her side of a story: one that involves a massage parlor trick called The Leap Of The Dragon…
…and a dead man on her massage bed.
The news reaches sharp-tongued trans prostitute Joy and short-tempered hawker Longkang Loga through an unlikely messenger, and the race to save a fellow citizen of the streets begins. But before they can free Mei Mei from a fate she doesn’t deserve, they first need to free themselves of their fears.
I finished this book in only few hours and the pacing was good as well. A book that one can easily finish in one sitting. But I must say that it is too short to be a murder mystery book. It’s too simple and there were plot holes here and there. A lot of events or occurrences were just too convenient. I expect more from a mystery book.
Writing style wise, as a debut novel, I think lots could be improved. The chapters were dated nicely but it didn’t feel like the story was moving smoothly. I also didn’t like the insta-love between Mei Mei and Adil. It happens too fast. If there were some backstory to how Adil fell in love with Mei Mei, it’d be nice.
However, I do like the characters. They are very real and they have distinct personality. I love Joy the most because of her attitude. I also like Loga Longkang because back in Uni days, I used to eat at this makan place called Longkang too in Cheras. Idk if this is the same longkang the author is referring to but knowing Loga brings back memories.
I adore that the author emphasizes on hardships and struggles faced by Malaysians of lower SES. For instance, Joy who struggles to get her hormone supply and how being a transgender is not easy for her. Meanwhile, Loga’s business is barely helping him to survive from day to day.
Overall, this book has its flaws but I do believe it has great potential and can be improved with more details. I do appreciate the author inserts Malaysian elements such as the slangs and fillers like ‘lah’, which are used at the right places, THANK YOU for that!
Thank you Jai Patel for sending this book in exchange for an honest review. If you wish to support this book, go check out Escape from Happy Palace on @jaipatelauthor ‘s website!
Hello guys! Welcome to a special content that I decided to include in this post. If you don’t have any Malaysian or Singaporean friends, you might not be familiar with Manglish or Singlish. It’s basically English but with a twist. The twist is the English we speak is influenced by our native languages and dialects.
Excerpt 1 from Escape From Happy Palace:
“Aiyoo…got lah, got lah, but I left it at home,” he wheezed.p.38
Let me try to dissect this dialogue right here. Aiyoo or Aiyo is an expression to showcase distress, annoyance, or even surprise. It really depends on the tone you’re using.
Got means I do have in formal English but Malaysians and Singaporeans mostly will just say “got, got”, meaning “yea, I have”.
Lah is a filler. We usually add fillers at the end of our sentences or wherever we think it’s needed to emphasize certain message. Besides “lah”, we also have “lo” or “lor”, “ah”, “meh” and “ma” (usually to ask questions).
Another excerpt from the book:
“He actually went ah?”p.39
See? “ah” is used at the end of the sentence and to ask question.
Besides that, we, Malaysians also like to mix up 2 or more languages or dialects in our daily conversations. For instance, “You makan liao ma? Want me to help you da bao?” This sentence simply means, “Have you eaten? Do you want me to get you some food?” Da bao = Take away
I think that’s it for now. I wouldn’t want to bore you with this so-called language lesson. But next time, if you see me talking English and some other languages at the same time, I might be speaking Manglish. Hah! Also, if you have any question about Manglish, ask away!
Do visit Legenbooksdary ‘s review on this book and also, she’s next on the Blogram tour!
About The Author
Malaysia native Jai Patel was born in the East Coast state of Kelantan and grew up in Malacca and Perlis. He studied at Multimedia University (MMU) alongside some of the country’s most decorated filmmakers, animators, and video game designers. He began writing fiction in 2019, focusing on mysteries and thrillers that revolve around everyday people placed in extraordinary situations.
Escape From Happy Palace is his debut novel. He is currently working on his second murder mystery, Eight-Eight Foodcourt, which will be published in early 2021. When not writing, he can be found playing open-world RPGs, discovering single-origin coffee, and making awful noises with his Fender Strat. He lives in Petaling Jaya with his wife.