Dear You,

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“You’re different. And I’m different too. Different is good. But different is hard. Believe me, I know.”

Among the stack of fairytale retellings, contemporary romance, and dystopian YA fiction, nothing fascinates me more than ever as the bittersweet coming-of-age novel. We’re talking about Catcher in the Rye where profanity is spoken with passion and angst is character. We’re talking about the alienated boy with issues, the misunderstood and ignored, the hopelessness of adulthood and the harsh reality that the world does not give a damn whether you slash your wrists or not. This sort of novel, perhaps, did not blow away our world or made it any better but it did something that you probably wanted to do for a long time– it cried, it wailed, it cursed the world and all of humanity– it’s like having a friend who could understand you.  Continue reading

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A Book That Loves Books

 

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The Shadow of the Wind (The Cemetery of Forgotten Books #1) by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Barcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals in the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julián Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love. (Goodreads)

Once, in my father’s bookshop, I heard a regular customer say that few things leave a deeper mark on a reader than the first book that finds its way into his heart. Those first images, the echo of words we think we have left behind, accompany us throughout our lives and sculpt a palace in our memory to which, sooner or later—no matter how many books we read, how many worlds we discover, or how much we learn or forget—we will return.

How do I even begin talking about The Shadow of the Wind?

As it unfolded, the structure of the story began to remind me of one of those Russian dolls that contain innumerable ever-smaller dolls within. Step by step the narrative split into a thousand stories, as if it had entered a gallery of mirrors, its identity fragmented into endless reflections.”

That’s an actual quote from the book. The nerve.

…until that moment I had not understood that this was a story about lonely people, about absence and loss, and that that was why I had taken refuge in it until it became confused with my own life, like someone who has escaped into the pages of a novel because those whom he needs to love seem nothing more than ghosts inhabiting the mind of a stranger.”

Well, I’ll be damned. The book is doing all the review by itself. What am I here for?

“Well, this is a story about books.

“About books?”

“About accursed books, about a man who wrote them, about a character who broke out of the pages of a novel so that he could burn it, about a betrayal and a lost friendship. It’s a story of love, of hatred, and of the dreams that live in the shadow of the wind.

Shut up book. You’re taking over my job.

Could I just fill this review with quotes? Of course I can. The Shadow of the Wind is a bookworm’s trove of quotes, the ones you post in Pinterest or your own wall. It’s a book that loves books.

A story is a letter that the author writes to himself, to tell himself things that he would be unable to discover otherwise.”

Books are mirrors: you only see in them what you already have inside you.”

I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.”

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Extreme Dejavu

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Boku Dake ga Inai Machi  (The Town Where Only I am Missing) by Kei Sanbe

Struggling manga author Satoru Fujinuma is beset by his fear to express himself. However, he has a supernatural ability of being forced to prevent deaths and catastrophes by being sent back in time before the incident occurred, repeating time until the accident is prevented.

One day, he gets involved in an accident that has him framed as a murderer. Desperate to save the victim, he sends himself back in time only to find himself as a grade-schooler one month before fellow classmate Kayo Hinazuki went missing. Satoru now embarks on a new quest: to save Kayo and solve the mystery behind her disappearance. (MAL)

Having a unique premise even in anime standards, The Town Where Only I am Missing is a supernatural and psychological thriller written and illustrated by Kei Sanbe. The protagonist is an aspiring manga author whose works are critiqued as empty and ‘not enough,’ a striking reflection of himself. He has the ability to ‘re-run’ or jump back to the past and prevent untoward incidents from happening. After a chain of bloody events in the present, he ‘re-runs’ 18 years back to change the past (and thus the future) as a twelve-year old and finds himself experiencing his childhood again. Murder, mystery, and time-travel, I just had to read this. Continue reading

Aliens

The Little Prince

A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to make sure she is prepared for it. Her neighbor The Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of The Little Prince. (IMDB)

Director: Mark Osborne (Kung-Fu Panda, Spongebob Squarepants)
Running time: 1h 50m
Adapted from: The Little Prince
Story by: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


The Little Prince is a book written by writer, poet, and aviator Antoine de Saint-Exupéry when he was exiled during World War II. It later became one of the most popular books in the world. The poetic and beautifully illustrated book tells the tale of an aviator who got stranded at the Sahara desert wherein he encounters the peculiar little prince and learns his story. Despite appearing like a children’s book, The Little Prince dwells deeply on life and human nature and many of adults have pondered over its magical story.

When the trailer for the film adaptation showed up, I was one of those people who teared up seeing it and it’s got a lot to say because I do not usually shed tears. The trailer demonstrated two different stories in two different art styles– one was computer animation, the other stop-motion plus with an emotional, uplifting music playing in the background. As a well-loved book, a few were pessimistic that they were up for a disappointment. I was excited about it but I was a bit reluctant as well.

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Edge of Tomorrow For The Light-Hearted

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Yotsuba to! by Kiyohiko Azuma

Yotsuba’s daily life is full of adventure. She is energetic, curious, and a bit odd—odd enough to be called strange by her father as well as ignorant of many things that even a five-year-old should know. Because of this, the most ordinary experience can become an adventure for her. As the days progress, she makes new friends and shows those around her that every day can be enjoyable. (My Anime List)

Childhood is perhaps the most magical stage in life. You could lose yourself in a puddle of water, take all afternoon watching a line of ants, turn a pillow into a horrible monster and savor a glass of milk as if it’s the last drink you’ll ever have. Even if you’re simply staying at home with a pile of paper and a crayon, you could make the best out of it.

This is the premise of Yotsuba to!, the everyday life of a six-year old which we all could relate to. Yotsuba’s pleasures are eating dad’s homemade curry, drawing her neighbors, catching cicadas, as well as vandalizing, shooting people, slapping adult goats for eating the younger goats’s carrot, and climbing electrical posts because she love cicadas. Each day is an adventure for a child.

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The General, The Boy, and The Flag

Heneral Luna is a historical film directed by Jerrold Tarog, narrating Antonio Luna’s experiences during the Filipino-American War. The film did not only depict Luna’s life, but also recreated the reality the Philippines faced during those times that strongly mirror present issues today.

The film begins with a young journalist interviewing the infamous general. In a dim room, we encounter the 3 main characters of the film.

First is, of course, the titular Heneral Luna. He is famous for his temper and occasional madness. He once rode alone in the middle of a battlefield, threatened his own men, gathered 4000 people to build a trench for him, got himself a train and threw out all the passengers inside it, and even arrested some of the first leaders of the country and his fellow general at one point. He feared no one and even the Americans were astounded by his character and thought highly of him.

He was a furious man and he directed his fury forwards in order to create change because he loved his country, furiously and grudgingly. He saw the real problem that we fail to see or perhaps, choose not to, but he loved his country all the same.

The second important character in the story is Joven, a young journalist of La Independencia (also published by Antonio Luna himself). He interviews the general and through their exchanges, we gradually understand the root problems of our country and culture. Joven was pretty much like the viewer himself or far more accurately, the youth, naive and innocent of the things happening behind the scenes.

We see him change as he travels with the general from stories to reality when he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a battlefield and witnesses what a real war looks like. His character was so powerful for me because at the end of the film, we see the young man almost in tears realizing what Luna had been fighting for and the precious ideal that died along him. He saw the real war before us; Us.

Last but not the least, the third character of the film– the Philippine Flag, first seen displayed on a wall behind Heneral Luna as he talks to the young journalist. His wore the flag’s sun on his uniform, believing that it will unite everyone. We first see the flag as clean and immaculate as Aguinaldo’s white suit but as the film progressed, it became torned and stained. As Aguinaldo’s cold face and lies fade from the screen, we see the flag to its final desecration as it burns into ashes.

The flag symbolized the people who fought for change, as Luna did; the people who hoped and were betrayed, as Joven had been; the greedy and coward, as Buencamino was; the self-serving, as Aguinaldo was.

‘We killed him,’ Joven cries to the flag.

The flag was us.

The Walking Challenge

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The Long Walk by Stephen King

On the first day of May, 100 teenage boys meet for a race known as “The Long Walk”. If you break the rules, you get three warnings. If you exceed your limit, what happens is absolutely terrifying… (Goodreads)

I loved The Hunger Games and I was mildly entertained with Battle Royale. I read through The Future Diary manga, Fate/Stay novels and loved The Lord of Flies because nothing catches my attention as much as teenagers killing each other. I’m a sick bastard I know.

The difference between the titles I mentioned above to Stephen King’s The Long Walk is that The Long Walk lacks everything that you expect in a battle royale, which is action and violence. The Long Walk doesn’t depart away from these three, if you could enjoy a bunch of boys walking, getting buzzed and shot, and talking deep shit; that’s all the action and violence you could get. The refreshing aspect of this book is that it does not glorify violence nor address a social issue beneath a violent exterior nor put the characters in heart pumping situations nor bring out the beasts of human nature. It’s simply a bunch of boys going through a death march. It’s a quiet page-turner that brings out the worst and best of its characters through dialogue and silence instead of violence.

The Long Walk explores the process of hope and despair and, perhaps, humanity’s struggle to live and survive while still keeping their sense of self in a world where they could live or die anytime. It’s a story of boys discovering themselves little by little as they march towards their death.

The Verdict: 5/5 Stars

A depressing yet touching novel, I recommend this one not as a horror novel, but a sad story about boys growing up too fast.