Friday, December 20, 2013

Asrama by Muhammad Fatrim


Asrama is the story about Dahlia, who transferred from her high prestige high school into a not-so-high-prestige high school and then lived in dormitory (asrama). There she made some friends and also some enemies, and also there are some scary stuffs going on.

And that was it. That was all there is. If you thought there was going to be some interesting twist you would be sorely disappointed. I could not begin to express the disappointment I felt the instant I finished this book. Everything- and I mean EVERYTHING; every cliche, every horror scenes, everything was already done over and over and over and over again. 

Let's start with the characters. All I can say was that the good girls had OK personalities while the bad girls were stereotypical bitches. But all of them were so forgettable I don't even care if they died agonizingly in the book.

The main character, Dahlia, was OK; she has personalities but she didn't create a lasting impression on me. As usual with main characters in an unimaginative horror plot, she was just there to be scared shitless. There were plot of rivalry, girl fightings, bullying and such but don't be deceived... Because none of these issues were important for the readers to care. The horror scenes were atypical of our local Malay horror films as well so I don't know what I should talk about. The only redeeming point of this book was the headhunting plot, but even that plot was so paper thin and forgettable. Everything I read here was everything I watched on local uninventive, horror films. There was nothing new, nothing to make me excited. 

The author tried too hard on trying to interest readers of the Sabahan community setting and culture. You see, I stopped caring for immersion since the Sabahan characters would sometimes spoke in Sabahan dialect and sometimes in KL dialect (?). Yet he tried to put into as many Sabahan stuffs he could into the story it was getting pathetic. 

You know, if you wanna write about our culture just let it flow naturally... Show us the girls competing in a Unduk Ngadau contest without the infodump about what and why Unduk Ngadau is an incredibly special event. There was no need to impress anyone, we're just a different culture. Just show, don't tell. It is OK to write Unduk Ngadau without explaining that it is a beauty contest. You can use many other ways to tell readers what it is rather than going all infodump on us. 

Every time you had to break the line just so you could tell the readers about what is a headhunter and what they do and why they do it, you're ruining the mood. Use the characters so that we could understand their motivation with headhunting, don't just tell. Let the readers figure things out themselves. You just had to write it in a way readers would understand what it was you're talking about. You know, don't tell us things, rather help us to relate.

In conclusion, this story was written in such a cliched way, with the cultural theme written off as nothing more than a decor to the uninteresting plot. Read this if you're not a horror fan and haven't been watching or reading many horror stuffs, perhaps you might still be scared or excited. 

Oh, and by the way, it's Huminodun. Not Himanodun. You can Google the name. There was no other spellings. Seriously. Fixi needs to fire their editor.

2 comments:

  1. Sound depressing..hahaha Hominodun name! -.-" Did they really study our culture or not leh~

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    1. The author is a Sabahan, from Beaufort in fact ;) I think he made an honest spelling mistake here and the editor is not a Sabahan (or not familiar with Huminodun), so they thought it was the correct spelling... I also think he tried to cater too much to the mainstream readers, that's why the novel came out so boring. But I'm not giving up on him, if he published a new book I'll go and buy it ;D

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