Next-in-Reading #29: Where She Went

Next in Reading

Title: Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Year: 2011
Publisher:
Dutton Books  

“And there it is. A hollow blown through my heart, confirming what some part of me has always known. / She knows.”

Three years after her accident, Mia Hall is a rising star in Juilliard and maintains zero contact with her high-school sweetheart, Adam Wilde. Adam, on the other hand, is a rock star in the midst of constant round-the-world tours, popping pills and dealing with the kinks of celebrity life – celeb girlfriend, uncomfortable interviews, and feeling like his music is lost. When he’s in New York, the pair chance upon each other again, and neither of them know if they were really going to pick up from where they left off those years back.

Character(s)

Adam Wilde, the Lost Child

Portrayed as a confident musician who knew where he wanted to go in the prequel, we see Adam as who he is when the perspectives have changed. Confidence is replaced with depression, and Adam is shown to only be stable with the help of cigarettes, pills, and Mia’s presence. Behind the cold, stressed, and sometimes-rude exterior, he is quite a sentimentalist, basing his sanity and his energy to keep going on his happier life in Portland, with his band back then, and Mia.

Mia Hall, the Music of His Heart

Like Adam, Mia’s character changed with the change in perspective. From a slightly awkward, nervous, and innocent girl in the first book, she is now portrayed as a carefree, confident, and talented individual – a reverse in roles between the two. She shares Adam’s sentimentality of their past. However, she continues to base her life on her other passion – classical music – and uses it to shape herself to the way she wants to, without free passes and pity.

Theme(s)

Love

Being the basis of this novel itself, the many types of love are seen throughout the entire story – familial love, platonic love, love and passion for the industry, and romantic love. While all the aspects are shown in certain parts of the novel, romantic love remains the most prominent.

Adam’s constant musing of Mia and his frustration at her closing communication with him is a mark of him being unable to let go of her. In turn, he has allowed his frustration to be translated to the agitated lyrics of his songs, only to have the music leave him when he continues to pine for her more, as he had mentioned. Conversely, meeting Mia stirred something within him, and they play together for the first time in three years – an experience which had been uplifting, something Adam had not felt in a long time.

Likewise, Mia, despite her seemingly cold attitude towards Adam in the events throughout the story, bought his signature guitar at an auction, showing the love she had for him despite all she had said about wanting him to let go of her.

Style & Structure

Opposite to its prequel, Where She Went is told at the perspective of Adam (instead of Mia in If I Stay). This not only provides the perspective from the other side of the relationship, giving a deeper sense of being for Adam, it also represents the fact that every relationship has two sides to the story and how much each party plays up the character of their significant others then. With both books, we are able to get a full, well-rounded view of both parties.

In the meantime…

That’s all for me now, and I’ll see you next week!

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Update [September 2014]

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! (Yeah, it’s today. Pretty much.)

Literary Event of the Month

I am incredibly grateful to the organisers of the Mentor Access Project (MAP). Having being accepted into this latest batch, I think it goes without saying that the literary event for me this month was the Welcome Tea I went to.

Blanket Fortress Play

BFP - Sept

Blanket Fortress Play this month features a couple of games we decided to give a try while having a somewhat overdue session at Settlers’ Café, a board game café situated around Clarke Quay. Go take a look as I share my thoughts on Blokus: Trigon and Shadows Over Camelot.

Writery Endeavours and Wattpad

I have been waiting for a few replies from some publications, but I would say all is well.

Wattpad - Sept

My Wattpad this month includes “Vanity Anonymous – the Death of Mirrors”, a poem I wrote for fun, and “Unwanted Utopia IV: Gateway“, together with an edited version of “Unwanted Utopia III: Rebirth“. I hope you’d enjoy reading these new entries!

Coming Next Month…

Stay tuned for these features coming up next month!:

  • MAP Writer’s Retreat
  • Nanowrimo and Writer’s Festival prep
  • More Next-in-Reading posts
  • More Blanket Fortress Play and Wattpad posts

Whatever is to come!

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Book Bites: MAP Welcome Tea

Book Bites

 

Before I start with this post, I am actually very excited to announce that I have been accepted to the Mentor Access Project batch for 2014 / 2015, as organised by the National Art Council of Singapore (NAC) and The Writers’ Centre, Singapore. And this was how the Welcome Tea for the event went down.

The event was held in the Aliwal Arts Centre, small but brimming with creative energy. Starting with a good amount of conversation with fellow mentees and potential mentors, we were quickly seated before our mentors were announced.

After the announcements , the speech, and other administrative things, the presentations from all the mentees started. This year, there were 20 of us picked for the project, which all of us presenting snippets of our works or just who we are. Some of the mentees read poems on National Service, Philosophy, creative non-fiction on Travel, a Malay piece on a relationship between a mother and her elder daughter, and a Tamil piece on clashing values and personality. I read a page from the first Chapter of a novel I proposed (from the Unwanted Utopia universe ;)).

The mingling and conversations after that were more than I could ask for. After settling administrative stuff with my mentor, views were exchanged, tips were shared, and stories were told (while we were eating and drinking). The creative energy was inspiring, to say the least.

I know that many things will be put into the back burner now that MAP is on the way. I will try to document the journey via this blog, though there won’t be any promises of regularity of any kind. Despite all that, I am still entirely grateful to the NAC and The Writers’ Centre for giving me this opportunity.

To find out more about the Mentor Access Project, click here.

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Eternal Sights; Spotted Mind: My 30-by-30 List

Eternal Sights

If I were to write a letter to myself from 10 years ago, I’ll probably say that I didn’t turn out as I dreamed, but I didn’t turn out as bad either. And hopefully, I would be able to write something better 10 years down the road – from my future self to my now.

I know it may sound incredibly early to have a 30-by-30 list but I guess it does not hurt to stay early, since I probably have only less than five years to go?

  1. Publish a Solo Novel
  2. Publish an Analog Game (even for fun)
  3. Speak at a panel / event
  4. Be published in a local, regional, or international anthology
  5. Be published in a local, regional, or international journal
  6. Create a vlog or podcast series
  7. Write a Night Vale story
  8. Attend a Writer’s Retreat or have a Residence
  9. Organise a Writer’s Retreat
  10. Get an apartment or home
  11. Create comprehensive notes for Creative Writing, Psychology, and Literature
  12. Read the Collections from the following Mystery / Dystopia List:
    • Sherlock Holmes Mysteries – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Hercule Poirot Mysteries – Agatha Christie
    • The First Detective: The Complete Auguste Dupin Stories – Edgar Allan Poe
    • The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series – Sir Alexander McCall Smith
    • The Continental Op Short Stories – Dashiell Hammett
    • Sharp Objects / Dark Places / Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn
    • Miss Peregrine’s Series – Ransom Riggs
    • The Parasol Protectorate – Gail Carriger
    • Shades of London – Maureen Johnson
    • Claudia Seferius Series – Marilyn Todd
    •  The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
    • Battle Royale – Koushun Takami
    • Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
    • Lord of the Flies – William Golding
    • Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
    • The Running Man – Stephen King
    • I Am Legend – Richard Matheson
    • Shatter Me Series – Tahereh Mafi
    • The Book of Ember Series – Jeanne DuPrau
    • The Uglies Series – Scott Westerfeld
  13. Learn Spanish, Latin, Malay, or Elvish. LOL.
  14. Escape from a Real Escape Game.
  15. Go for Dance Classes (ShBam & Bokwa in gym)
  16. Perform at an Open Mic
  17. Go for a pro photo shoot
  18. Make my own analog game paraphernalia
  19. Have a working, travelling kit for my:
    • Calligraphy
    • Embroidery
    • Gift-Crafting
  20. Go for a run.
  21. Hit Excellent for my Fitness Test
  22. Donate to Nanowrimo / the Project for Awesome / Kiva.Org
  23. Travel to at least 9 – 12 of these places or events:
  24. Slide down a Zipline
  25. Make at least 4 of these recipes:
    • Julia Child’s Supremes de Volaille aux Champignons
    • Butterscotch Buttermilk Pancakes
    • Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
    • Welsh Rarebit
    • Brownie Pie
    • Blueberry / Cherry Pie
    • Baked Eggs
    • Homemade Twix Bars
  26. Get my driver’s license
  27. Purchase and complete a game of Eldritch Horror or Fortune and Glory
  28. Rid myself of anxiety and low self-esteem
  29. Forgive and let go of my past
  30. Love unconditionally

So there you have it! I’ll be posting the full list on its separate page, but here’s to hoping I can finish this list by the time my 30th rolls by =).

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Next-in-Reading #28: Land of Meat Munchers

Next in Reading

Title: Land of the Meat Munchers
Author: Nicholas Yong
Year: 2013
Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

“That’s a good name, Raj. Wayangs. I like it.” – Jim, At the Foot of Mount Sinai

In the not-so-distant future, Singapore gets ravaged by zombies, leaving the entire nation crippled with just a few survivors here and there. Three teenagers – Jim, Selina, and Raj – have to use their brains and fight their way through these creatures and look to survive another day before this zombie outbreak ceases to be a problem.

Character(s)

Selina, Guilt-Ridden Survivalist

A fierce fighter who is able to hold her own almost through the whole book, Selina is known for her no-nonsense attitude and fierce strength in surviving and fending off zombies. However, what people may come to realise later is that underneath that brute exterior, her rage is mostly a shield for something she may be afraid to face – herself.

Apart from killing zombies, she kills the backgrounds of the other two characters, naming them as privileged and ignorant of the suffering and troubles of someone from the average community. However, these comments stay as they are, after she gets past the unreliable first impression of someone else. Her fierce combat may also be used as a form of justification or redemption to the mother and child she failed to save out of fear of her own life.

Theme(s)

Survivor’s Guilt

Apart from the constant action and the killing of zombies through the entire novel, a theme which seemed to be existent throughout the story was not just survival, but survivor’s guilt. Somehow or rather, the conversation within the three will have a story or a sliver of justification on their current status slipped into the conversation.

Selina suffers from Survivor’s Guilt channeling her rage from not saving someone from the zombies when she could. Raj and Jim also talk about how their families and friends were good people, but given the choice, they did not want to kill them as zombies. As much as they would have rather the reality to be different, the trio knows they have not much of a choice other than to carry on, and suffer emotionally for it.

Style & Structure

The first thing that struck me about this novel was the immediacy to it. Apart from the first-person narrative, you start right in the thick of things, with no time to explain how things came about and even the name of the protagonist we were introduced to. The pace is set right at the start, and you move along as quickly as the characters.

Also, instead of being set in post-apocalyptic America or the UK, it’s set right at home, gun restrictions and all. Therefore, it was interesting to see how the survivors managed to fight through the zombies (Silent Hill style), together with the typical Singaporean-ness and kiasu-ism that appeared in various pockets on the story.

In the meantime…

That’s all from me today and I’ll see you next week!

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Signal Boost: We Are Family

Signal Boost

 

What constitutes a family? Blood relations? Brotherhood? Closeness?

These are some of the things that bring meaning, comfort, controversy, and at times, conflict, among people. Math Paper Press, however, would just like to hear your story on what it means to be in a family – any shape, any size, any dynamic.

To be edited by Grace Chia, each story should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words and formatted into a Word document before being sent to the Editor at: gracechia@booksactually.com. The deadline for this publication is on 15 November 2014.

For more information and details about the publication, click here and let the stories begin.

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Next-in-Reading #27: Matched

Next in Reading

Title: Matched
Author: Ally Condie
Year: 2011
Publisher:
Dutton Juvenile

“That’s how I know they are dreams. Because the simple and plain and everyday things are the ones that we can never have.”

Cassia Reyes has always trusted in the Society. They schedule the lives of citizens, assign them their food, their schools, their jobs, and their future matches. When she finds out that her match was Xander, her best friend, Cassia was elated, until a “glitch” reveals another possible match for her – Ky Markham. With this knowledge, Cassia struggles with the choice she has to make – between both “matches” and living life on her own terms.

Character(s)

Ky Markham, Outcast or Outstanding?

An Aberration, Ky is socially outcast from the general society, unable to receive the same rights as a citizen. Knowing of the atrocities happening out of the province and how people will view him upon knowing his true status, Ky is incredibly street smart not only in getting around, but in keeping his ideas fresh and to himself without going insane.

His curiosity and creativity also mark him as an individual who stands out, if not an individual who is outstanding. Being able to attract attention despite him suppressing his true potential, he still has bouts of creativity escaping him in spurts – like when he teaches Cassia to write and another girl to draw. As compared to many people his age, which just pride themselves in sorting and adhering to schedules, he has the ironic freedom to do things under his own terms. As long as they are under the radar.

Theme(s)

Creativity

In the Oria Province, the capital city under the Society, everything is decided for the citizens for optimal living. Even in school and in leisure, everything was only kept to the Top 100 of all history. And in the words of Cassia, citizens sorted, they did not create (because it was bad for them).

Therefore, set in an environment where creativity was, in its general definition, not allowed, it places a penalty on things we do every day – writing, dancing, singing, creating – and things we take for granted and still keep wanting more, with more innovation, in our current world. And while we, in reality, complain about the lack of creativity, the people who want to create in Oria, appreciate every bit of creation given.

Style & Structure

Matched is told in the first person narrative, the story purely unfolding in Cassia’s view. Apart from bringing the reader into her world using the first person, the reader is also able to feel the struggle of a moderate – if Ky and Xander are considered rebels (even subtle ones) and the officials and everyone else were considered the obedient citizens. What the style did to the story was to show a certain struggle which many of us still have to deal with – questioning the system but somehow still believing that there is a glimmer of sense with the system. That, to quote John Green, “truth resists simplicity”.

In the meantime…

Stay tuned for more literary analysis and I’ll see you next week!

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