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Mental Book Cover Mental
Shaz Johar
Buku Fixi
15 November 2012
Hardcopy
300
Public Library

Bagi Maya, menjadi orang gaji di dalam rumah teres dua tingkat itu ibarat menyelia sebuah institusi mental. Tuan Jin menduakan isterinya, Puan Sierra mengharungi tekanan perasaan, Rashid bencikan anggota badannya sendiri, dan Rania seolah-olah cuba menjadi murtad!

Mereka semua gila. Mereka semua punya cerita.

Tetapi kehidupan Maya berubah apabila dia dikejutkan dengan nama Raudhah. Dia jadi bingung dan terganggu. Siapakah wanita itu? Apakah kaitan wanita itu dengan dirinya? Dan mengapa nama itu seakan-akan mempunyai satu cerita yang sukar untuk dia ungkaikan?

MENTAL mengisahkan tentang pencarian. Mencari sesuatu yang jelas di depan mata, mencari sesuatu yang bakal diberitahu, dan mencari sesuatu yang cuba dihindar.

Truly this is how I feel inside after finishing this book.

Just… huh…

I would like to say words cannot begin to describe the anguish I feel but that would be a lie, I did write a 4-page review on the book.

It is another miss from Buku Fixi for me and to be honest with you all the latest Fixi books I have read correlate to my state of being as I was reading it.

Gelap: Hatiku Gelap

Kacau: Jiwaku Kacau

Mental: Diriku Mental

I have so many emotions in me regarding this book but the main emotion that is up and center for me right now is the feeling of disappointment, disheartened to be exact. After, this book I seriously am rethinking my decision to continue to support Buku Fixi.

I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE! Emotionally or mentally. I just can’t deal with the books that I am reading from Buku Fixi. This is all very dramatic I know but yeah I shall post my full feelings in another post and without further ado let’s get on with my review of Mental.

Strap in guys it’s another rant review.

First thoughts when finishing the book was what in the actual fuck is this book about? What is going on? The plot went everywhere but also nowhere at the same damn time. There were so many plot ideas and threads that were written but none of them were fully explored nor explained which in turn did not give these plot ideas the depth it deserves.

In my honest opinion, the book had no focus in terms of its plot, and some plot points dragged on for so long that it became such a boring and tedious read with such little payoff.

For example, the whole Rashid blackmailing Maya plot went on for chapters on end when it did not need to especially since after every chapter involving this blackmailing plot DID NOT GO ANYWHERE. Had this plot point be condensed more time can be used to flesh out the characters in this book; explain their dynamic with each other, make them more likable or relatable. If the author did not want to flesh out the characters then by all means he could have written more exposition or foreshadowing to give the plot twist at the end the weight that it needed to have for it to be SATISFYING.

I swear, the plot twist at the end came so far out of left field it might as well just come from a different dimension. I am not talking about the plot twist where it is revealed that Maya’s true identity is Raudhah and that she is Tuan jin’s second wife whose main job was to be the surrogate mother for his family or the revelation that Rashid and Rania never existed and they were just a figment of Raudhah’s imagination due to the miscarriage of her twins. It is the plot twist that exposes Raudhah to be a lesbian and was in a romantic relationship with Benjamin’s wife, Maya! (Ben is the neighbor btw).

I don’t know if I am reading the book wrong and thus completely missed the clues that show Maya and Raudhah to be in a relationship but damn boy! How? Where? When? Who???

The author just expects me to believe out of fucking nowhere that Raudhah is a lesbian and in a relationship with Maya? When there were no clues, no innuendos, no nuance, NO NOTHING to indicate this revelation? I may not be a writer myself but at least give me the decency and respect I deserve as a reader to not just give me this bullshit plot twist and expect me to just eat it up. I may not be the brightest pea in the pod BUT I DO HAVE BRAIN CELLS DAMN IT.

This is not even half of my problem with this book… heck with all Fixi books I have read thus far except for Garam by Ruwi Meita and that is a book translated from Indonesian to Malay.

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Tell me why, in almost every Fixi book I have read must there be incessant sex scenes THAT DOESN’T DO ANYTHING FOR THE PLOT. It doesn’t make us understand the characters more, it doesn’t add more to the plot, it does absolutely fucking nothing except maybe to shock the readers. Honestly, just stop it. It makes your work look cheap, that you have to rely so heavily on this aspect to make your book interesting. Had the book been in any genre that involves sex by all means, every page can include any type of sexual stuff whether the genre is erotica or historical romance.

Aside from the things I talked about above here are a few other issues I have with the plot:

  • If Raudhah is Tuan Jin’s second wife, why the hell did he panic when he realizes that Benjamin is stalking them when he and Raudhah went on a holiday? Raudhah freaks out because they might be exposed to Puan Sierra but wouldn’t she know that he has a right to do so?
  • Why didn’t Tuan jin bring Raudhah to see a doctor sooner? It’s 2 years kot. If for 2 years the girl wholeheartedly believes she is a maid when she isn’t you’d think to bring her for a check-up no?
  • Why is Ben obsessed with Raudhah? Never explained in the book why. Just expects me to believe Raudhah nang kacak gila sampe smua laki gila annya (nak udah kluar Sarawak aku).
  • What was the point of the author showing us that Ben LOVESSS going to church? To show that he is religious? Okay? Kakya tek is that plot point going anywhere? Sikda nak? At first I thought okay I thought okay maybe Raudhah has an affair with Ben but their affair was stopped by her father because Ben is Christian but then Raudhah was having an affair with Maya, Ben’s wife. So, what was the point again?
  • What was the point of giving Rania and Rashid to have their issues; Rania with wanting to be a Christian (I don’t even think this is an issue but I do live in Malaysia so take with that info what you will) and Rashid having BIID (Body Integrity Identity disorder), if it wasn’t going to be tied to Raudhah’s own mental illness. Why did Raudhah imagine these characters the way they are, there must be a reason! I have watched far too many videos on DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) to know that when the mind fractures and creates new identities, this new identity has a reason to exist and to be the way they are.
  • Why was Dr. Salman a fucking idiot? You’re telling me that this licensed doctor practicing psychiatry (or is it psychology?) immediately believes his patient has recovered from her mental illness just because this ONE TIME she gave him all the answers he wanted to hear? No follow-up? No additional tests? Nothing? If that’s the case, I dare say that Dr. Salman has forged his medical qualifications and is not a real doctor! He should be sued.
  • Who is Yanti and why was her story brought up? why talk about this maid, Yanti, who had affairs with all the men in the neighborhood if again you are not going to expand on it.

As you can see, I had many issues with the plot. Many, many issues.

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Surprisingly though I don’t have much issues in the author’s writing. I mean I finished reading the book, I finished reading the book angrily but still finished it.

Let’s move on to characters. I hated them all basically. They all seemed to be caricatures of which you cannot relate to or empathize or even care, and if you don’t care about the characters in a book, do you really care about the plot? or what happens to them?

Raudhah is such a passive character. Everything happens TO her. She has no will of her own which reminds me does she even want to be in a relationship with Tuan Jin anyway? This is pertaining to the start of the book whereby she says they are having an affair. In an affair, as far as I know, both parties have to consent to the relationship if not it’s just abuse and coercion. It seems to me that Raudhah flip flops a lot in her feelings for Tuan Jin. It’s like she doesn’t want this affair but continues with it for reasons unexplained and unknown. Is it for monetary gain? Is it for sexual reasons? What? What is her reasoning? I would never know because as usual, it is never explained in the book.

In conclusion to this long-ass book review, I wouldn’t say I hate this book even though my review might say otherwise, I just feel VERY dissatisfied with it. I swear to you I do not go in reading books from Buku Fixi to hate on it or whatever I genuinely want to read their books to support local talents as well as to give support to local publishers but alas I am left disappointed and disheartened once more.

Will I read another book by Shaz Johar? Perhaps… He does have a new book released and I do want to read it to compare his newer works with his older ones to see if there are any improvements. This is to instill hope in my soul (or perhaps it is denial) that his older works are written when he was still fresh at being a writer and needed a lot of improvements.

I am going to make a YouTube video for this review soon, it might or might not be the same. I might have more things to add in the video that I missed writing here, so do check my video on YouTube once it’s out. Will update when I post it on my social media.

Apologies, for the long review, I just needed to put my feelings out there.