Sofia and the Utopia Machine fills an important space in Singapore literature not only as an young adult book but as science fiction. I don’t remember coming across any local YA books when I was in primary and secondary school. In fact, when I was still in secondary school, I wasn’t interested in Singapore literature precisely because it seemed to be geared towards adults. In that regard, it’s heartening that local YA books have gained more visibility in recent years.
The first 200 pages were not written well. I was bored and felt growing discomfort with the mangled Middle Eastern culture this fantasy book was premised on. At least the next 150 odd pages picked up a little in terms of plot and also storytelling, so I didn’t end up thoroughly hating Rebel of the Sands. Still, this book has so many problems, I’m relieved I didn’t order the sequels before finishing this one first.
Before receiving a review copy of The Call, I hadn’t heard of it. Reviews on Goodreads were few and vague. The synopsis didn’t give much away either. All I knew was that this would be a book of horror — a genre I generally avoid. In any case, with Halloween around the bend, I thought I should at least read one creepy book this month.
There is something terrifying yet absolutely comforting about coming across a character that seems to be of equal mind to mine. Or maybe it’s the author’s thoughts that might as well have been pulled out of my very own mind. Not that I could have written this tale but the voice! That voice was like…