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.
Good satire makes you laugh while simultaneously reflecting on the subject matters. Rooted in reality, it makes you wonder how serious these characters are (very) but then on second thought you realise that they’re world views are so black and white, they couldn’t be for real. With that in mind, Borowitz used satire very effectively in Family and Other Catastrophes. Emily was so neurotic but with the kind of mother she had, it kind of made sense. Her sister Lauren, was fully committed to feminist social activism, in stark contrast to their brother, Jason, who was a desperate divorcé and quite the sexist.
Lost for Words is the sort of book that requires time and patience from the reader. During the first 100 pages, I considered abandoning the book a few times. I was bored with the writing style and didn’t enjoy jumping around three points in the protagonist’s life — 2016, 2013 and 1999. Two alternating timelines are already more than I tend to like. Three was pushing it.
When I first read the synopsis of Out of the Blue, I was intrigued. After the first chapter, I was hooked. Then my expectations came crashing down before it partially mended towards the end. See, the concept of angels falling from the sky sounded like there’d be a lot more to it than what Out of the Blue had to offer.