Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Review: The Perfect Witness - Iris Johansen

Title: The Perfect Witness
Author: Iris Johansen
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 352 pages
Published Year: 2014
Rating: 3/5
Paperback Synopsis:
She had the perfect life.
She had the perfect cover.
She was the perfect witness.
Until they found her.

When Teresa Casali was young she discovered she had a strange gift: the ability to read people's memories. But the gift seemed more like a curse as her mob boss father used her to gain the upper hand in his world of corruption and violence. Exposed by her own family to the darkest impulses of mankind, Teresa is alone and unprotected. She realizes that if she is to survive, she has to run.

Out of nowhere, or so she believes, a man by the name of Andre Mandak appears. He kills her pursuers—but that's not nearly enough for Teresa to trust him. It is his promise to get her into Witness Protection, along with his mind-blowing ability to help her control her gift before it consumes her, that convinces Teresa Casali to become Allie Girard. Living a normal life with a new family, she shuts the door to the past …although Mandak is clear: when the time is right, he too will benefit from her powers.

For years Allie flourishes …until the day her cover is blown and the truth comes tumbling out. Once again she is on the run, with her own life and those of her loved ones at stake. But this time she will not be a pawn. This time she will use her finely honed gift to end the threat that began with her family's betrayal. From perfect target to perfect witness, Allie Girard is ready to take on the past even if it kills her.


Many people would kill to have an extraordinary ability like Teresa Casali. When she was still a kid, she discovered that she could read people’s memories. But then her father who was a New Jersey mafia, Antonio Casali, used Teresa to benefit his business interests. He would ask her to come to work with him so she could read any of his colleague’s memories. When Teresa was 16 years old, Antonio was killed and her mother, Gina, betrayed her to his successor named Camano, making Teresa had to go on a run from Camano’s men. Until someone mysterious came to save Teresa. He said his name was Andre Mandak. Although at first Teresa felt hesitated to trust Mandak, she finally decided to accept his help.

Mandak brought her to a house where he would train Teresa to control her power. He also taught Teresa to defend herself. But It turned out that Mandak had his own agenda and he wanted something in return for saving Teresa. After Mandak felt that Teresa had enough training, he asked her to get into a Witness Protection Program with a new identity as Allie Girard, a college student who lived with a loving couple and would act to be Allie’s aunt and uncle. After seven years, Allie’s peaceful days was suddenly over when her cover was blown and once again she had to go on a run with Mandak. He finally told her everything about the man who had been putting a huge misery to his family’s life. Mandak thought that only Allie could help him. Allie decided to use her gift to help Mandak and focus to fight another enemy besides Camano.

If you want to read something thrilling and somewhat mysterious, I think this book is perfect for you. The opening scene will make you gasp already. This book started with Teresa running in the wood and it was quite intense to read. So it successfully made me curious about what would happen to Teresa and Mandak. I was surprised, actually, because I had never read any of Iris Johansen’s books before and I didn’t expect The Perfect Witness to have an opening scene like that. But I had to admit that the more I flipped the pages, I felt bored instead. It happened for the first few chapters. Something just felt really off and I literally had to drag myself to continue reading this book and not just abandon it.

Halfway reading the book, though, when Allie’s cover started to blow, the story got more intense and thrilling. Allie and Mandak were constantly on the run, and at some points I even got nervous because I didn’t want anything worse happen to them. I also liked the fact that during the training, Mandak and Allie somehow created a bonding between them in order to make the training went well. For some people, their relationship would appear to be odd because the age differences between them. Mandak was in his mid 20s when he saved Teresa for the first time. So after seven years went by, Mandak was already in his 30s when Allie was still in her early 20s. But I personally didn’t find it wrong. In fact, Mandak had become my favorite character. He was a typical hot protagonist guy with such a protective trait in him. I liked Mandak.

But I was a bit disappointed with the ending. I quite liked it, actually, but somehow I felt like it was a little too rushed. I already built my anticipation towards the ending. I prepared myself if maybe something more thrilling would happen. It was a little disappointing because the plot story was great. And it made me wonder if actually Iris Johansen would make a sequel to this book, because I think there were some things that hadn’t been resolved yet. But I still enjoyed reading it. As I said before, if you want to read something thrilling but not that heavy, this book is a great choice for you.

P.S: You can also read this review on Periplus website!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Review: Zombies VS Unicorns - Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier

Title: Zombies VS Unicorns 
Author: Holly Black & Justine Larbalestier 
Publisher: Saga Press 
Pages: 415 pages 
Published Year : 2015 
Rating: 3.5/5
Paperback Synopsis:
It's a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths--for good and evil--of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?


The book was started with a unicorn story called The Highest Justice by Garth Nix. The story was set in the medieval era and there was something about it that made me think about the zombie instead. At some point I even forgot if it was supposed to be a unicorn story or a zombie story. And because this was the first story of the book, I somehow lost my interest to continue reading. I was afraid I would not enjoy the book. But thank God the next story titled Love Will Tear Us Apart by Alaya Dawn Johnson hooked me back with its Twilight-esque story, except it was about zombie. We—well, I—had always thought that zombies were rude, disgusting, and mean. But this story gave me new perspectives about zombies. I got to know their feelings better, how it felt when they fell in love. And the descriptions of zombie virus as a psychophatic disorder were awesome. I loved the “I-love-you-but-I-also-want-to-eat-you” kinda thing.

Of course not all the stories got me hooked. This time, another one of my favorites was from the unicorn side. It was titled Purity Test and written by Naomi Novik. The story revolved around the unicorn/virgin mythology but the writer approached it in such a funny way. The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Killer Unicorn by Diana Peterfreund also made me re-think about the image of unicorns I had known before, because apparently not all unicorns were kind. They also had this wild instinct to hunt human but still I couldn’t make myself hate them. The third and also the last unicorn story that became my favorite was Meg Cabot’s Princess Prettypants. See, the thing is, we’ve always known unicorn as this soft, beautiful creature who brings happiness with its colorful horn. But, what if one showed up on your doorstep? Would you still let it come into your house? Would you turn it away? Or would you use its magical ability to intimidate your ex-boyfriend? Meg Cabot really knew how to create such a cute and funny unicorn story.

Right before I read this book, though, I was so assured that I was more into unicorns rather than zombies. I was also very convinced that this book would only make me love unicorns more. But boy was I wrong. Of all 12 stories, my favorites consist of 3 unicorn stories and 4 zombie stories. LOOK WHO’S TEAM ZOMBIE NOW! Besides Love Will Tear Us Apart that I have mentioned before, my personal favorites from zombie stories were: Carrie Ryan’s Bougainvillea, it was about the zombie apocalypse and the twist at the end of the story really caught me off guard. It was just very angsty; Maureen Johnson’s The Children of the Revolution, a satire about celebrity-adopted children who were “saved” from death by zombie virus; and Cassandra Clare’s Cold Hands that talked about the sweet side of zombie’s love story. And the zombies in this story were not the brain-eater types, just “dead” people who returned from grave seeking out the company of their loved ones.

There were stories who shined more than the others, which I think was usual for a short stories compilation. But zombie stories just felt more intriguing for me, although the unicorn stories had some humor that the zombie stories did not have. So, yeah. Based on this book, I think I am team zombie. And also team editors because their introductions were—hands down—the best.

P.S: I got this book for free because Periplus gave it to me and they asked me to write the review. They also posted this review first on her website, whick you can find it here. But they allowed me to post it on this blog too.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Review: Dilan: Dia Adalah Dilanku Tahun 1991 - Pidi Baiq

Judul: Dilan: Dia Adalah Dilanku Tahun 1991
Penulis: Pidi Baiq
Penerbit: Pastel Books
Tebal: 344 halaman
Tahun Terbit: 2015
Rating: 3.5/5
Paperback Quotes:
"Jika aku berkata bahwa aku mencintainya, maka itu adalah sebuah pernyataan yang sudah cukup lengkap."

"Senakal-nakalnya anak geng motor, Lia, mereka shalat pada waktu ujian praktek Agama."


I honestly have mixed feelings about this book.

Para fans Dilan pasti tau kalau buku “Dilan: Dia Adalah Dilanku Tahun 1991” ini merupakan sekuel dari “Dilan: Dia Adalah Dilanku Tahun 1990”—yang pernah saya tulis review-nya di sini. Cerita dari buku kedua ini dimulai pas dari ending buku pertama, yaitu ketika Milea resmi berpacaran dengan Dilan. Tidak cukup hanya secara lisan, mereka juga menyatakannya di atas kertas bermaterai. Untuk dokumen perasaan, kata Dilan. Nah, setelah “peresmian” hubungan mereka di warung Bi Eem, Dilan pun mengantar Milea pulang menggunakan sepeda motornya. Adegan boncengan naik motor berdua ini, yang tentu aja terjadi nggak hanya sekali, menjadi salah satu hal favorit saya dari buku kedua ini, karena percakapan absurd nan manis khas Dilan-Milea seringnya terjadi di atas motor!

"'Aku bisa menyihir kamu jadi tambah erat meluknya,' katanya.
'Gak usah disuruuuh…,' kataku berseru bagai bisa menembus suara hujan.
'Kenapa?' tanya Dilan.
'Bisa sendiriiiiii!!!'"

HAHAHAHAH sumpah ya, adegan-adegan macam begitu tuh yang suka bikin saya nyeletuk, “Sa ae lu, Dilan.” :)) Tapi, tentu aja hubungan Dilan dan Milea nggak selamanya manis begitu. Kang Adi, guru les privat Milea di buku pertama, masih saja berusaha untuk PDKT dengan Milea. Belum lagi ada tokoh baru bernama Yugo, saudara jauh Milea, yang ternyata juga menyukai gadis itu. Well, sejujurnya saya kurang bisa membayangkan cantiknya Milea itu seperti apa, tapi kayaknya cantik buanget, kok sampai seorang calon guru magang di sekolahnya pun ikutan naksir. Namun, masalah terbesar yang muncul dalam hubungan Dilan dan Milea bukan berasal dari fans Milea—justru Dilan lah sumbernya! Masih ingat, kan, kalau Dilan itu ikutan geng motor? Berulang kali Milea menegur Dilan bahwa ia nggak suka kalau Dilan bergabung dengan geng motor, karena Dilan jadi doyan berantem dan ujung-ujungnya membuat Milea khawatir. Awalnya, jujur aja saya menganggap sepele masalah ini karena saya pikir, “Ah, pasti ntar Dilan juga nurut. Dilan kan sayang banget sama Milea.” LAH KOK MALAH NGGAK SELESAI-SELESAI WTF?! Yang jelas, masalah Dilan dan geng motor ini berpengaruh banget ke ending bukunya yang—sumpah!—bikin sedih banget. Padahal saya udah kena spoiler endingnya bahkan sebelum beli bukunya, tapi tetep aja ngerasa nyesek pas selesai baca. Kalau buku pertama bikin perasaan saya berbunga-bunga, buku kedua ini sukses bikin saya patah hati. Siap-siap aja.

Sama seperti buku pertama, buku kedua ini juga ditulis dari sudut pandang Milea. Jadi sebetulnya seluruh kisahnya dengan Dilan di tahun 1990 dan 1991 merupakan flashback, sedangkan Milea masa kini berada di tahun 2015. Pada bagian awal buku kedua ini, Milea juga sedikit menceritakan kembali kisahnya dengan Dilan di buku pertama, kayak semacam perkenalan singkat. Di satu sisi, hal tersebut dapat membantu mereka yang nggak membaca buku pertama untuk bisa tetap nyambung dan menikmati kisah Dilan dan Milea di buku kedua ini. Di sisi lain, para pembaca yang mengikuti dari buku pertama bisa saja bosan dan merasa bahwa hal tersebut malah bersifat repetitif. Kalau saya sendiri sih nggak merasa terganggu, justru senang karena bisa sedikit nostalgia dengan zaman PDKT Dilan dan Milea. EHEHEHEHE.

YA GIMANA KAN, justru cara PDKT-nya Dilan di buku pertama itu yang bikin saya jatuh cinta banget sama dia. Bener-bener yang jatuh cinta head over heels karena bagi saya Dilan itu karismatik. Sayangnya, di buku kedua ini, karisma itu seolah hilang. Nggak hilang, sih, tapi agak mengabur. Mungkin karena frekuensi kemunculan si Dilan nggak sebanyak di buku pertama, selain karena karakternya yang memang menurut saya jadi melemah justru ketika konfliknya lebih berkembang. Tapi, tenang aja, Dilan masih unik, kok, masih doyan ngegombalin Milea, pemikirannya masih nyeleneh tapi masuk akal, masih suka bicara hal-hal absurd, masih sesekali nulis puisi. Saya suka juga dengan hubungan Dilan dan Bunda yang kayaknya asik banget. 

"'Dia itu diam, bukan karena baik.'
‘Karena apa?’
'Karena, gak berani. Karena, takut. Gak siap dimarahin.'
Aku diam.
'Harusnya, dia juga dimarah karena penakut. Dunia butuh orang pemberani. Yes?'
Aku diam.
'Kamu pikir bandel itu gampang? Susah. Harus tanggung jawab sama yang dia udah perbuat,' kata Dilan lagi."

"'Gimana, ya?' Dilan bagai mikir. 'Dulu, waktu kecil,' Dilan mengenang. 'Aku nyuruh Disa ngambil tas di kamar. Terus, si Bunda bilang, jangan nyuruh-nyuruh, katanya, kerjain sendiri.'
'Itu, sih, negur, bukan marah.'
'Iya. Nah, waktu si Bunda nyuruh aku shalat, aku jawab aja: Bunda, jangan nyuruh-nyuruh! Kerjain sendiri.'"

HAHAHAHAH kampret emang si Dilan. Tapi saya suka dengan Bunda yang juga dekat dengan Milea, bikin pengin punya mertua kayak Bunda yang pengertian banget. Sayangnya, karakter Milea seolah-olah "mengikuti" melemahnya karakter Dilan. Tentu aja ia masih cantik dan pintar, tapi ada saat-saat di mana saya mengerutkan kening dan berpikir, "Kok Milea gini, sih?" Saya ngerasa dia jadi lebih.... drama. Ada beberapa sikapnya terhadap kejadian-kejadian tertentu yang menurut saya terlalu berlebihan. Kayak pas Yugo dan Ibunya datang ke rumah Milea untuk meminta maaf atas tindakan buruk yang dilakukan Yugo terhadap Milea. Lalu tiba-tiba Dilan datang dan Milea langsung aja menggaet Dilan ke tengah-tengah ruang tamu, yang saat itu di sana juga ada Ayah dan Ibu Milea. Nggak hanya memperkenalkan Dilan, Milea juga dengan lantang bilang bahwa Dilan adalah pelindungnya, bahwa Dilan membela dirinya hingga terluka. Ya, saya tau kamu bangga dengan Dilan, Milea, tapi nggak usah segitunya juga. Yang jelas saya ngerasa bahwa Milea jadi lebih emosional di buku kedua ini.

Mengenai ending, sejak selesai baca buku pertama dan tau bahwa kisah Dilan memiliki sekuel, sejujurnya saya udah menduga bahwa akhir cerita Dilan dan Milea bakal seperti itu. Setelah itu saya juga kena spoiler di Twitter—yang ternyata bener sesuai dugaan saya. TAPI YA TETEP NGGAK TERIMA DAN SEDIH BANGET AJA GITU PAS SELESAI BACA. Saya beli buku kedua ini tanggal 9 Juli lalu, bareng temen saya yang dulu juga baca buku pertamanya. Malemnya, saya ngebut baca karena nggak sabar banget pengin tau lanjutan cerita Dilan dan Milea. Besoknya, pas akhirnya selesai baca, saya mewek sendirian karena teman saya masih separuh jalan bacanya. Begitu dia selesai, dia langsung kirim chat ke saya, marah-marah pake capslock, katanya nggak bisa move on. I think it was her first ever book hangover she's ever experienced. :)) Saya sendiri bahkan belum sanggup mau baca buku yang lain, masih kebayang-bayang Dilan dan Milea—terutama Dilan. Mungkin setelah ini saya mau baca ulang buku Dilan yang pertama, mau menetralisir perasaan biar nggak terlalu patah hati.

P.S: Denger-denger Pidi Baiq mau menulis kisah Dilan dan Milea dari sudut pandang Dilan. SEMOGA ITU BENER, YA! Aamiin? Aamiin!