What I really enjoy about theatre is that it’s a liberating art form. It’s often used to explore ideas that aren’t mainstream. Mimi Fan is a prime example of this in Singapore literature. When it was first staged in 1962, it shocked more than a few sensibilities because it was rather progressive and liberal for its time. The annex even features a newspaper article touting Mimi Fan as a controversial play.
With the Fire on High easily is one of my favourite books that I read this year. Emoni loves to cook and dreams of becoming a chef. That’s all I needed to know in order to borrow the audiobook. With the Fire on High offers so much more than a trope I can’t get enough of, though. It brings to light complicated relationships, the difficulty of balancing responsibilities and ambitions, and a huge dash of heart.
The moment I saw the synopsis of The Couple, I knew in my bones that Helly Acton wrote this book for me. See, I love books that turn our social norms upside down and examine how life could be instead. Also, I basically spent my twenties single, which drew a lot of pity from friends. They made unsolicited comments, “Are you sure you don’t want to get married?” or “I’m happy to introduce you to someone!”
A Deadly Education left me with very mixed feelings. The opening line held so much promise. It offered conflict and an intriguing dichotomy right from the get-go. Such as, why would anyone want to kill the very person who’d saved their life? What more when they had saved them more than once? I wanted answers but didn’t feel like I got much by the end of the book. Is this one premise supposed to span across the entire series? Evidently, but the opening of the story arc for it didn’t turn out as solidly as I had hoped.
When I first started out reading Burn, I was intrigued. Historical fiction isn’t all too common in young adult publishing compared to contemporary fiction, fantasy and science fiction. History and fantasy crossing paths? Even less so. But Patrick Ness has an excellent track record of meshing various genres and even defying them, so I expected this one to be a hit as well. It wasn’t but I was still glad that he brought his signature postmodern outlook with a touch of whimsy.