Thursday, January 5, 2012

FIXI #9: Kelabu


... was the first thing that came out of my mouth when I finally finished this novel. Note that I said 'finally' when the ironic thing is that, it only took me two sittings to read it from cover to cover. But it certainly felt a lot longer than that, and it's not because of the number of pages the novel had. It's just that, I found Kelabu to be one heck of an emotional and spiritual journey, suffice to say I got into it a lot more than I thought I would when I first flipped open the book.

Kindly visit FIXI's official site for a sneak preview of the novel, and details on how to get it...
And no, I’m not going to say nice things about it just because author Nadia Khan has the means to render me unconscious, and have me wake up one week later in that red light district in Amsterdam with a sloppy boob job and my genitals removed. *shiver* I was just really impressed by it, so much that my inferiority complex came knocking once more.

So here's the deal; Yes, I finished the book in two sittings, but it's hard to say if it was really something I'd call a page-turner in the same way as... Say, David Morrell's First Blood, a thriller novel I read not too long ago. Still, the character-driven nature of Kelabu got me by the balls short hairs, roused my curiosity and that kept me reading. It was all I could do to prevent myself from just skipping to the end to see how it's gonna end.

Of course, I didn't actually do that. But there was a couple of times when I nearly did, but managed to stop myself. Instead I simply went, "Curse you, Nadia Shyamalan!" to comfort myself because I was unable to outwit the novel by guessing where the story was going. Well, I did guess one thing right, but in the grand scheme of things, it was nothing to scream about. I even smiled sheepishly when I realised that there had been clues and allusions throughout the novel. So have fun spotting them!

By the way... Yeah, I have that habit, not only with books, but (especially) movies as well. Don't ask me why, I'm just overcompensating for being a lousy human being.

Yea yeah... laugh it up.
I'm not going to discuss anything about the plot here, you're gonna have to read it and find out for yourself, as it is my policy to keep my reviews spoiler-free. All I'm gonna say here is, while the novel isn't the sadistic kind that would toss around one red herring after another, the story is being told by an unreliable narrator, so you're not gonna know what you're gonna get, and here's a gist of it;
It seems innocent enough when a sweet-faced college student comes to him with a proposal, but Amir has no idea what kind of emotions he's going to have to wrestle with, feelings buried so deep within him, he's forgotten to ever having them. What he's signing up for is a simple ploy to help a girl get back at her boyfriend, but black and white is only on paper. In real life, things have a nasty habit of turning gray when you least expect them.
That's all about the story that you're gonna get from me. No doubt, it caused problems when I started working on this entry. I mean, I sure would love to give my two cents about the issues raised in Kelabu, but I think I'd pass on it this time around lest I give away integral details to the plot. Heck, I don't even dare make any pop-culture references for that same reason, even though by now it's not exactly as big a secret as the recipe for Coca Cola.

Still, you're getting the message right? Maybe it's just my personal library that's not varied enough, but as far as I'm concerned Kelabu was really something else. You see, with regards to stories that deal with the theme of love, at least the ones I've stumbled upon relied too much on what everybody else is doing to our dear protagonist (whose only flaw is usually being adorably klutzy), and he or she merely reacts to these people all the while feeling sorry for his or herself, looking at the cornucopia of love interests to choose from. Bastard.

I want my copy of Kelabu signed too!
Well, there will be none of that here. With Amir, much of his battles are internal, and every one of his relationship is a two-way street. So you see what I mean when I said that the story felt a lot longer than it actually was? It's because every one of them felt like a real person, so I actually cared about them even though I only got to hear about them exclusively from Amir's point of view.

Another aspect of the novel that really appealed to me was the tone. Now, I should let you know that Amir and I have almost nothing in common, but all the same I could empathise with him, and that feeling of isolation he had to deal with was not something unfamiliar to me. I suppose that's why I inadvertently approached it in such a way that made the tone of the novel felt somber and cloudy, and it left me yearning for a silver lining for Amir, whom I have come to think of as a friend.

And that, was why my lips could only utter "Goddamn..." when I read the last sentence. Hey, I did tell you guys that I have this tendency to really get into a story, right? So there you go. Kelabu may not be the thickest novel I've ever read, but it certainly one of the densest.
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