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.
For some reason, I’ve had a significant slow down with YA novels this year. I’ve just not been able to settle down and focus on reading, no matter how intriguing various books sound. Most of the time I’ve resorted to audiobooks for which I tend to pick non-fiction books. Thanks to a long haul flight though, I had no distractions to keep me from Mirage. I was happily entertained.
The House of Mountfathom is a difficult book to review. Personally, I didn’t enjoy reading it very much. On some fronts, it felt like things were missing — as though there was supposed to me more. The premise intrigued me but the execution failed to charm. When I looked up the author, I found out this book was published posthumously. He was in his mid-thirties when cancer took his life. Knowing this, I was tempted to rate The House of Mountfathom for its potential but decided not to. That would skew my rating scale against other books I’ve read.
Margot & Me, while set in contemporary times also grapples with the past set during World War II through a diary. What I loved about this book was how the stories of three generations knitted together. Fliss and her grandmother, Margot, were so at odds that Fliss’s mother was the only reason they put up with one another. Watching that relationship develop throughout the pages was immensely touching. Although, how Fliss came to read Margot’s diary didn’t entirely sit well with me. But you know, curiosity and what not…