Lord of the Flies by William Golding (Review)

Lord of the Flies Cover

Title: Lord of the Flies
Author: William Goulding
ISBN: 0-571-05686-5
Published: September 17, 1954, Faber and Faber
Target Audience: Children, Young Adults
Genre: Allegorical Novel

There’s more to Lord of the Flies than a group of upper-class boys stranded on an island. It’s an allegorical novel that contains a lot of symbolisms that are too many to be told in one short book review like this. But there’s one certain thing about the book: it is an exploration of the human nature that unabashedly exposes our darkest tendencies to savagery. That and the laws of civilisation that do not hold their effect in a place where rules and the idea of harmonious society do not apply. ;

It’s a chilling tale that pushes us to reflect on the possibilities of living in a world where civilisation is removed, and we are left to our own devices to survive without order.


Lord of the Flies narrates the unfortunate events following a plane crash on a small deserted island. The survivors, a group of well-brought up British boys ages six to twelve, find themselves in a hapless circumstance without the guidance of an adult. What could have been a haven for kids- frolicking by the beach and splashing in the waves- suddenly becomes a threatening place to exist for the boys who do not fully understand the implication of their condition yet.

Without an adult to hold these boys together and impart the values, constraints, and conventions of a civilisation, the story becomes a struggle for dominance, order, and primal instincts. What was once a peaceful island devoid of savages becomes a war zone for the thirty or so English boys. Only the sight of the conch can gather these boys to order, but it’s becoming less effective as Jack realises its nonsensical purpose. From that point, only the slaughtering of pigs becomes a paramount importance to Jack.

Due to a fateful turn of events, the group is divided into two factions: Jack Merridew’s choir boys who enjoy hunting and pyretic rituals and Ralph’s mostly young and refined lot who want to survive on the island at peace and keep the signal fire on top of the mountain from going out. Ralph, who knows less of everything but wants to govern by the rule of law, slowly loses his squadron as Jack lures them the into his group by offering the meat of their hunt. Only one person refuses to leave Ralph’s side and that is the clumsy but ever clever Piggy. Meanwhile, driven by his passions and anarchic leadership, Jack continues to terrorise Ralph and Piggy, enforcing his dominance over the nonviolent duo.

Looting, treachery, and manslaughter are carried out without remorse as the majority of the boys succumb to their barbaric innocence. Lives are drained of blood and compassion is overridden by man’s inherent feral motivations. This goes to show that innocence has its ugly side when freed from society’s reasonable control.


The end of innocence- this is what hit me deeply after reading the book. It’s a frightening realisation that represents a whole lot of things in this world. Lord of the Flies can be an allegorical commentary of the world’s political bodies; a religious metaphor between good and evil; a history of which man loomed in darkness before emerging from it through civilisation. But what’s striking the most is the new awareness that man might have been born naturally evil, but this only surfaces once the backbone of an organised social order has been taken away.

There are several symbolisms in the novel that readers are compelled to ponder upon for some time. For one, Ralph represents leadership and reasoning, who believes that the conch is the very symbol of law and order. Jack is the representation of man’s primordial instinct, who is driven to his innate nature of savagery in order to fend for himself- a sneak peek to what men were like before we learned to cultivate our ways. Simon depicts innocence and Piggy of compassion and intellect. But of course, all of these boys at the very beginning marvelled at their newfound freedom and indulged into wishful thinking that they might be saved by a passing ship, just before they entered a complex character arc.

There’s the obvious sense of immediacy and tension in William Golding’s writing that take us into the unfathomable drama of the story. William Golding used the third-person view and crafted realistic speech patterns for the diverse characters in his story. For instance, Piggy, whose nerves betray him every now and then, speaks in abrupt bursts and unfinished sentences. The group’s default leader Ralph, on the other hand, draws on short imposing dialogues to get his point straight. William Golding fashioned the book with his stellar writing and imagery, having been able to describe the idyllic scenery and splendid weather of the island well.

Lord of the Flies is a gripping, suspense-riddled book not just for teenagers, but also for adults. There is much to take away from this adroit debut novel by William Golding. It’s intense, fast-paced narrative takes readers deep into man’s descent back to his primal roots. Although it leaves an unsettling trail in the end, it’s a book you would truly enjoy if you’ve come past all the gory details and the degree of insanity it presents.

Rating: 4.4/5

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (Review)

Before I Go To Sleep Cover

Title: Before I Go to Sleep
Author: S.J. Watson
ISBN: 0-85752-017-2
Published: April 2011 (UK), Doubleday
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

There was much hype surrounding S.J. Watson’s debut novel Before I Go to Sleep. Why, with a psychological thriller being tied up with memory loss, people will always find this kind of plot somewhat refreshing and a fascinating subject for discussion. And had not for the screaming one-liner reviews printed on the book’s covers, I wouldn’t have thought of bringing it home. Did I regret such rash decision? I can’t say that I did, but I can’t also recount having truly enjoyed it to the last bits.


The story opens as the 47-year-old female protagonist Christine awakens from her sleep without a memory of how she got herself in a room with an unidentified man by her side. She immediately dismisses her surprise, thinking she got herself drunk the other night and had nonchalantly slept with a stranger- something she always did in her early twenties. But she’s in for a bigger surprise as she sees a much older version of herself in the mirror. Horrified of her discovery, Christine confronts the man, who turns out to be her husband, Ben. He then explains to Christine that she has amnesia and that most of everything she knew goes when she sleeps. The only memory she can ever recall is when she was just a twenty-ish happy-go-lucky woman- the time before she met Ben.

As Ben goes to work everyday, a Dr. Nash calls Christine every morning and introduces himself as a neuropsychologist. Dr. Nash then urges Christine to get her journal that’s been kept inside a shoebox in her closet and read it to understand what is happening. Having read the content of the journal, she then finds out that she and Dr. Nash have been working together to improve her memory. But what troubles her the most are the words “Don’t Trust Ben” inscribed inside the journal.

Slowly, through her flashbacks and diary, Christine begins to shed light on her past, particularly on the day of the horrible accident and the time before she lost her memory. The more she discovers these things, the more she grows weary of the people around her, especially Ben and Dr. Nash. Does Ben have something to do with her memory loss? Can she really trust Dr. Nash? What has really happened on that fateful night that put Christine in such terrible situation?


Before I Go to Sleep is an interesting and terrifying tale of a woman living with the people she barely knew. This gives the character of Christine a remarkable element as we are taken to witness her anxieties and confinement because of her memory loss. Since there’s only a handful of characters in the book, it goes to show how small Christine’s world has become after the accident. Her narration gave me an in-depth view of how excruciatingly nerve-racking it is to wake up each day without so much of a recollection of the previous day. I could have easily sympathised with Christine given her seemingly hopeless situation, but I didn’t feel any connection with her vulnerable side as I went on reading. In fact, I was on the verge of putting the book down many times.

However, the book was elegantly written. The vivid, delicate description of the events tries to resurrect the book from mediocrity. Watson’s dainty prose and characterisation of the female lead made her real, a kudos despite the fact that the author is of the opposite sex.

The only obvious drawback of the book is its pace, which mostly slows to a crawl as Christine constantly begins the day doing the same thing she did the previous day. The whole process of remembering things is reiterated again and again, dragging the pace of the story to an unbearable degree. It’s a bit exhausting to read something I already knew, leading me to think that I was tricked in buying the book. The painful repetition made me almost lose my patience. But I kept reading because I have this belief that a pyscho thriller has an element of surprise to it, which Watson was still keeping up his sleeves.

Indeed, he laid the tension again in the final chapter. I was able to heave a sigh of relief as the pace picked up its speed and got my anticipation high. Suspense started to crawl up to the moment of the final revelation. But alas! The climax, the part of which I achingly so wanted to happen, slammed my expectations down. It’s not that I found the way it’s presented disappointing, it’s because I wasn’t the least surprised by it. The book is indeed full of promises, but its sluggish pace makes it a little let down.

Rating: 3/5

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Review)

Gone Girl Cover

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
ISBN: 978-0307588364
Published: June 2012, Crown Publishing Group
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

The fact that I bought a paperback copy of Gone Girl after reading its ebook version is really a testament that the novel should be one to go in the treasure chest. Gone Girl is the first Gillian Flynn book I have read a year ago, and after that I have been wanting for more. I don’t know how to start this; the book is so twisted I am lost for words. Having read all of Flynn’s books, I could say that Gone Girl is her best yet, probably a magnum opus, and definitely the best psychological thriller in the contemporary scene so far.

Gone Girl possesses the familiar Gillian Flynn power that’s going to chill readers to the bones. And why not? It is so unsettling and cynical that you would begin to wonder if the ones you love are those you think they really are. Once you turn the first page and read what Nick Dunne thinks of his wife’s head, you are in a creepy, thrilling ride of your life.


The gripping story revolves around the troubled marriage of Nick and Amy Dunne, two New York journalists who ended up living in Nick’s depressing hometown North Carthage after losing their writing jobs. Amy, who has been raised pampered and trust-funded as a Manhattan socialite, detests their ordeal, much more their rented McMansion that Nick chose for them to live in. Even so, Nick still managed to open a bar with his twin sister Margo using Amy’s trust fund money.

Everything becomes hellish on the day of the couple’s fifth year anniversary when Amy suddenly turns missing with traces of murder found in their McMansion kitchen. Nick, who came home after a quick beach stroll early that morning, finds himself in the middle of a murder accusation. All pieces of evidence lead back to him, including Amy’s diary that Nick wasn’t aware his wife had all the time.

The plot then progresses as Nick tries to clear his name and win the public’s heart. But Nick turns out to be a poor liar, who lives a double life and pretends that everything is fine throughout their marriage. Suddenly, a series of twists and turns starts to prevail and there seems to be no way of telling who is really saying the truth. Is Amy really murdered? Does Nick have something to do with it? What’s really the motive of the New York sweetheart’s sudden disappearance?


Nick and Amy Dunne are not your stereotypical troubled couple. Yes, they might appear as one at first, but there’s more to them than meets the eye. And that’s how Gillian Flynn crafted two deep, complex main characters in this chilling third novel. As readers are thrown back and forth between Nick’s narrative and Amy’s diary entries prior to her disappearance, I was led to believe on things that might really have not happened after all. Something happens and everything I knew changes in just a flash. They are the perfect definition of unreliable narrators, something that Gillian Flynn has apparently mastered and applied to her excruciatingly twisted protagonists’ inner monologues.

If Agatha Christie were alive, Gillian Flynn would have given Agatha a run for her money. But of course, Agatha is Agatha, and Gillian has her own way of presenting her narrative. What makes Gone Girl and her other books so dangerous and delicious to read is her tense prose, written through her irresistible, razor sharp wit. She’s a good architect when it comes to shaping the entirety of her story, shepherding us to the unpredictability of its dark corners. There are a good many crime writers out there, but not one has come close to Gillian’s style of writing. She sure doesn’t disappoint when it comes to presenting the savage and toxic side of the human psyche.

If you ever decide to jump in the bandwagon of Gone Girl fanatics, I recommend that you read the book when you are not alone because it’s going to scare you in more ways than one. But I assure you, while the fright lingers inside you, there’s going to be no intention on your side to put it down.

Rating: 4.5/5

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (Review)

Sharp Objects Cover

Title: Sharp Objects
Author: Gillian Flynn
ISBN: 0307341550
Published: Sept. 26, 2006, Shaye Areheart Books
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Had not for the genius and commercial success of Gone Girl, I wouldn’t have thought of picking up Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects. Since then, I’ve become overly vocal about my adoration for the rising thriller author. Now that I have read all of Flynn’s offerings, I can say that her first book, to some extent, didn’t match the sheer brilliance that Gone Girl was made of. However, Sharp Objects – being understandably underrated- also holds the same Gillian Flynn signature that still makes it an absolute page-turner.


At first glance, Camille Preaker is everybody’s average investigative reporter who sports a rather conservative wardrobe. The truth is, she is a cutter and her entire skin is a roadmap of etched words waiting to be cut again. They are her cry for help, which are sometimes drowned in the company of men and booze.

Returning to her own Missouri town Wind Gap, she tries to unravel the mystery behind the disappearance of a young girl, whom by chance, is a schoolmate of her mean it-girl, half-sister Amma. Nine-year-old Natalie’s corpse is then found crammed between a beauty parlor and hardware store a couple of months after another girl’s body was found floating in a creek. And the serial killer’s signature? Both young corpses had their teeth pulled out. It’s a grisly mystery that the troubled reporter has to solve together with Detective Richard Willis.

But there’s no reunion to be had once she steps on the front porch of her mother’s mansion. It turns out, they themselves have some issues to sort out that both are reluctant to revisit. While Camille tries to reconnect with her estranged mother Adora and snarky half-sister Amma, she becomes increasingly haunted by the mysterious death of her younger sister Marian years ago. She revisits her past and begins questioning her shaky relationship with her mother to connect it with her current assignment- the reason she agreed to return to the childhood town she pledged no allegiance with.


Part of what makes Sharp Objects a compelling and exhilarating read is its characters, each of whom are described exquisitely to grab the reader’s interest. But two domineering characters in the person of Adora and Amma made it a few notch gripping.

Fragile as she is seen, Adora uses this as her power over the people who surrounded her. This is what’s making her in control of everything behind her caring and gentle demeanour. Amma, on the other hand, thinks her body holds the power to captivate and control other people- something she moulds from her mother dearest. But let’s not forget our heroine, Camille, who also fought her demons as she confronts the psychological puzzle that’s dogging her for years.

The thing that makes the book a heavily delectable read is Gillian Flynn’s brilliant prose, which is always present in her three books. It’s not always that I like to reread something word-by-word to savour its feels on my mind and body. Her unique way of telling an ugly and vile side of the story makes me want to read the words written on every page slowly, so it sticks long enough and feeds me with something I can take inspiration with.

Sharp Objects brings us a sneak peek into the choking relationship of a mother and child. It dissects the motherly roles that the society has enforced to women and the things people do to fight off their traumatic past and survive. It studies the human condition and how some events in our lives could leave us scarred for life. The book is too dark and discomforting for the faint of heart. It’s raw and violent, but not in a way that’s too gory to take in. However, it leaves you chilling and haunted for days.

Rating: 4.3/5 Stars

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Review)

dark places review

Title: Dark Places
Author: Gillian Flynn
ISBN: 249137284
Published: May 5, 2009, Shaye Areheart Books
Target Audience: Adult
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

I found myself asking if Gillian Flynn is mad herself or just overly brilliant. What with Dark Places, it takes a stable mind to soak in every damning and morbid detail of Libby Day’s life. Flynn’s ingenuity in her writing is obvious, though one might think that no normal person could write something as utterly disturbing and gruesome as her second novel. I can say that the genius of her debut novel Sharp Objects was no fluke in any way.

Like her other two bestselling books Sharp Objects and Gone Girl, Dark Places contains the familiar acerbic, self-loathing, and sinister characters that readers would both love and hate at the same time. And for something like that to evoke such powerful emotions is rather an accomplishment.


Dark Places begins with Libby Day, who at the age of seven found herself hiding inside her mother’s closet after she witnessed the grisly massacre of her well-meaning mother Patty and two older sisters in their poverty-stricken farmhouse in Kinnakee, Kansas. The one who took the axe and brought it upon the Day family was Ben Day, Libby’s troubled, teenage brother. With Libby pointing Ben as the killer, her brother was convicted of the murder.

Decades passed and now that Ben is locked away for his crimes, Libby is having trouble with her finances. The fund that the well-wishers raised for her after the murders is running out. Broke and alone, with no clear vision of what would become of her, Libby is desperate enough to accept an offering by the Kill Club, an odd group of people obsessed with the macabre. Libby plans to milk the club by returning to her past and reaching out to the people who were part of the case.

As Libby journeys to her bleak, shabby childhood town Kinnakee and to other old places that sit in squalor, the narrative abruptly changes through the perspective of Libby’s family- including Ben, Patty, and then back to Libby. As she eagerly tries to piece everything together and prove to the Kill Club that her brother was indeed the killer, Libby finds herself, yet again, running away from death’s clutches.

There’s no way I could have liked Libby or the other characters of the book. Each has their own quirks and flaws, which made every one of them hard to like. But here’s Libby Day- selfish, envious, and hateful Libby- and her once socially-awkward and troubled brother Ben, both you would have a hard time to empathise with but you surprisingly would root for. It won’t even be a big deal by then that you disliked the characters as every page turns grimmer than the previous.

It’s an absolutely thought-provoking, pitch-black book to read as it bares the evil side of humanity. I guarantee that you would find it difficult to put the book down, even if you have to sacrifice your sleep. Okay, it’s a bit exaggerated but that’s how Dark Places affected me. The only thing that surprised me a bit was the final revelation, which although I haven’t seen coming, didn’t quite sit on my expectations well. You would know for sure once you flip that dreaded page.

The title of the book is somewhat Meta, owing to the fact that once you open its eerie cover you are taken in a very dark place that’s frightening to the point of paranoia. The unsettling plot might make a person shove it away once the ghastly events start to creep up, but Gillian Flynn wrote it with such mastery that even the most repulsive and nerve-fraying episodes were poetically-written to devour hungrily. Once you start nibbling Flynn’s silken prose, you would want to spit it out and eat it back again, savouring the pungent and other times copper taste of her words in your mouth. With that said, Gillian Flynn has truly stamped herself as the mistress of crime fiction.

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Polymath

The Polymath

The envelope was ivory white, perfectly sealed so prying eyes won’t catch a glimpse. Its edges were sharp to touch, something I found a relevant circumstance to what I was about to find. A tap on one corner and ting!- a sound of a thousand needles rang through my ears. I felt being pricked not just in the skin but also into my arteries. Blood, I see a thin read streak from a small opening, a tear voluntarily snaked its way down from the tiny gash. But I was only imagining things. What was real was the envelope in my hands. Ivory white. Perfectly sealed.

“Open it when you’re alone,” I was told by my manager, “And count your earnings in private.”

But that was said to me as a half-meant joke, exactly a year ago when I received what was told to be my entry-level pay. I was happy, not that being a writer finally had given me a monetary value, but because I gave my dreams a solid start. I have been writing all my life, but never practiced it to benefit other people. On that day I received my first off white envelope, my smile almost stretched to my ears.

“What a dream to live,” my 22-year-old self used to say.

There was that slim packet again in my veiny hands, casing the familiar anxiety I detest whenever I tear it open. I was about to give it a go, but I stopped and looked around me. Perhaps, to catch a glimpse of other people’s compensations. Five figures, maybe a thousand or two more than what’s stated on my paycheck, written in consistent letters: Courier New in 9 points.

“Patience,” something only my mind whispered a lot.

“You have to start from the bottom,” my mom once said, “That’s where successful people begin.”

“I know, but do I deserve to be treated unfairly?”, I replied.

“That’s how the world spins my dear,” she said, raising her thin brows to reveal her prominent brown eyes.

We touched that topic when I found out why our paychecks were meant only for one pair of eyes. I was disgruntled, of course, and had a long-winded inner conversation with myself about the predicament.

No matter how talented you are, the fact that you are fresh in the workforce neither regards your capacity to write nor value what you have achieved when you were still in school. Yes, that reality stinks like piss but as a cub I had to suck that in. Every cub has to suck that in.

I thought of opening the envelope when I arrive home. I know that won’t change anything, but at least no one has to ever see me get internally steamed up again, or sulk in one corner for that matter. Either has happened and it earned me a good whooping during evaluations.

Like the desperate and disheartened young adult that I was, I walked out after my shift without looking back. The warmth of the setting sun cast an orange haze through the glass windows. The elevator doors had a tinge of soft tangerine and strong metallic grey. The inconsistent luminosity winked at me as the sallow orb of light was slowly sinking down the edge of the horizon outside. Heaving a sigh of what seems to be a lack of complaint, I stepped inside the elevator with heavy a heart has had carried.

I thought I might explode but the elevator suddenly shuddered before I could do so as it reached the 6th floor. The doors, however, smoothly glided to each side revealing wide-paneled glass doors. It was dark inside, the blinds were drawn and the only light emanating within glowed from huge Apple Mac screens on rows of long white tables. As far as I have observed, some men and perhaps women in hooded jackets turned their swivel chairs around to see the opening of the elevator doors.

“This must be so distracting,” I thought.

Two men slowly entered the elevator as one pushed a rolling cart full of empty water containers. I tried not to mind them as I tiptoed to savor the scene in front of me. More than the awe that struck me (because yes, those Mac screens), I was curious what the company was all about. Since I thought of Apple Mac as something graphic artists and web designers must have, I presumed they were the kind of people I also want to become. Those people who are capable of creating something visually appealing other than the descriptive gimmicks writers write.

Then I saw an expanse of greyness in front of me. The silver doors quickly closed faster than they had opened. Too soon for me to understand the sedentary view behind them.

“I wish I could…” I stopped mumbling as one of the men took a pen and a notepad to list the day’s remittance.
Wonder flooded my senses until the bellowing honk of the public bus killed it. The brakes screeched hard, sending the passengers forcefully forward right on their seats. The whir of the engine was somehow soft, like a gentle patter of rain on the roof. The bus door let out a loud hissed as it opened in front of me and a man past his prime nodded as if to mean that I were expected.

“You know what’s a good thing about getting a bus ride?” I remembered my high school best friend said one day as we skipped the bus home. We were walking a good distance under the red sky, the clouds melting away like sweet little pink puffs. We walked until the sun had sunk so low and the sky was the color of a bruise.

“They’re cheaper than cabs?” I answered, somehow expecting it wasn’t the thing she was about to say.

“No, no!” she waved her slender hands, her forearms shook like rigid stick figures.

“You see, whenever I take the bus, the people around me do not matter at all. Like I’m just all I alone, staring at blurred trees and buildings outside,” she said.

“Oh, you really think it’s like that?”

“C’mon! Don’t tell me you haven’t felt it yet. I know you have, you are not just aware of it,” her pursed lips slightly smirked.

“Oh, wait, so you mean I don’t matter to you when we’re on the bus?” the thought suddenly sprang up and I was waiting for her to blow her top over that kind of question, which she sometimes did. Instead Mary Ashley, my best friend, shrugged it off like it was not a big deal.

“Lisa Cobbler’s doing her thing again!” Mary swung her right arm around my shoulders and pressed me closer to her side, “How about we stop by Casey’s for an ice cream?”

I pushed a tongue out, then told her why Casey’s would not be a good option for two hungry and growing teens.

Somehow, Mary Ashley was right.

I had deep thoughts that afternoon on the bus, where I only spoke to myself internally in spite of the people around me. The sea of heads wobbled and peaked like loose attachments to necks over the back of the seats. And although I had a 20/20 vision, the faces that surrounded me were blurred.

It’s true. The trees and buildings dashed before my eyes in split seconds, and all I could think about were my could-haves in life. Then the thought of Mary Ashley came. What has happened to that girl? Where did she go? Does she still have the same sentiment about getting on the bus?

The road was becoming wider as the bus entered the highway. Then, we were sent forward again as the driver stepped on the brakes. Only this time, my reflexes kicked in, launching my arms on top of the back seat in front of me. Just in time as my face was about to hit it.

I moaned but everyone else did not seem to care about it, as though it’s really a thing to be lurching every now and then on the bus.

A moment had passed and as I looked through the window, I saw a 2010 white mini cooper stopping in front of my sight. I like minis, they look so chic and efficient. I wondered how much they cost and if I could ever afford it one day.

Then I saw a young woman behind the wheels, her head rested on a beige leather seat. She was talking to the person behind her, who was busy arranging what appeared to be large canvases carelessly wrapped in brown paper. She was smiling whilst talking. An expensive gold watch clasped securely around her slim right wrist. Her frail fingers rhythmically tapped the black steering wheel as she waited for the red traffic light to turn green.

The watch, the mini, the paintings- the young woman in that car had everything I ever wanted. I felt envy boiling inside me, and I could have felt more resentful if I knew the young woman had painted those canvases. Until then, there’s nothing much I could do but to suppose and watch.

“Rich kids,” I muttered, apparently taking no notice of the middle-aged woman sitting beside me.

“I suppose you have a disdain for rich people?” the woman spoke.

I turned to face her, not quite sure if it was me she was talking to.

“Not at all. I do like to be one though. It is just at this moment that some people who are as young as me- apparently those born from rich parents- are now driving luxury cars and owning things only the rich buy,” I answered, sounding like an injured puppy.

“Maybe it’s true. Money is power.” She pouted her lower lip. Her soft auburn curls framed her aging face.

“Of course, it is.”

“I can’t tell you much about money. I, too, have a hitch with debts on my own. But you can use that thing in between your ears to help you,” the woman bitterly answered.

I was about to ask her if she also had used her head one time to solve her woes, but only looking at her sullen expression made me think otherwise.

“What I want right now is to be rightfully valued or appreciated for what I am doing or have done.” I looked at my shoes as I said that, a bit embarrassed by my impassioned response.

“You want to get that, yes. But all while yearning for wealth.”

I looked at her, puzzled. She smiled as she gave out a heavy, long sigh. “Of course, of course. You deserve better.”

The bus stopped without a warn and the woman got off slowly. She didn’t look back at her new acquaintance. She didn’t throw a single glance at me. I felt she could have said more but chose not to, letting her words trail off when she said I deserve better. Then I saw her walked in the street with her head down as the bus passed by her, and she never held it up until she was out of my sight.

A sudden wave of fear engulfed me. “What if I am about to turn like her? Apologetic yet vindictive, passing up shots that could have been my ticket to a good future,” I thought as soon as I recognized my anxiety.

There were many times I was offered good positions by well-established corporations, but I turned them down only to become a writer. Books pull me in as words haunt me. There’s no escape, there’s no intention of running away. But the now had me thinking if all of my choices were worth it. If being a word factory for others would ever quench my thirst for success. If enslaving myself would do me well in the end, most importantly to my soul that knows dissatisfaction is just around the corner. I was never satisfied. I am never easily satisfied.
I got my headphones on as I opened my apartment door. Bills posted on my corky board greeted me, a reminder that I still have obligations left to take care of. Mozart’s Symphony no. 25 in G minor, K. 183 blared through my ears in full volume. It’s melody leapt and the fierce unison of the violins descended, gripping my expectations hard, violent, and intense. The dotted rhythm stopped for a second and a short moment of peace and refinement consolidated my senses. Not long after, a menacing piano unison introduced a new sensation. Confidence suddenly, progressively grew inside me and overshadowed my fears and desolation.

A sly smirk curved my thin lips as I dropped everything on the floor. I gathered the oil and acrylic tubes strewn all over my working table and pulled a stained wooden box that kept my stiff brushes. I took out the single-mast easel underneath my bed, set it up, and mounted a large blank canvas on its frame. I stood there for quite some time, one hand pressed under my chin. Then, I remembered something…

I took the ivory white envelope from my bag one last time. My scrawny fingers ran over the paper’s smoothness. A tingle crept its way down my spine, spreading across my skin and sending a bolt of current on my fingertips. I shivered and pulled myself together after.

Without further ado, I tore the envelope open from one side- carefully and slowly- ensuring not to rip the crisp paper inside. I pulled my paycheck out and looked at the figures printed in Courier New, 9 points.

No words came in my mind. Not a single word formed on my lips. I pushed the paycheck back inside the envelope and looked at the blank canvas, feeling a bit hopeless yet somehow inspired to do something new.


Sneak Peek: The Unraveling Of Adora Caprice


Chapter One

He Who Refuses to Pray

Do not ask me to come to church with you, or to accompany you in a prayer meeting. I like none of those things. I loathe it. Not that I hate God- the word ‘hate’, by the way, is a very strong word less than loathe. Let us just say I used to feel sick with all the Amen and Halleluiah happening everyday of my life, seven days a week, seven times a day instead of ten, because I do not pray when I am alone. I was just sick of it, that’s all. But I like the idea of God if you would ask.

There was the morning prayer whenever we got out of bed. Five minutes after a groggy awakening following Sister Maria’s bellows of good morning. I swear they were not the kind a man would want to hear at the crack of dawn. They were like sermons from hell, annoying yet frightening. We had no choice for that place’s Marias were the good people who fed and sheltered us. Although I was secretly grateful, I hated the place. No, loathed it.

After waking us up, we would get ourselves ready for the daily mass before we could fill each of our hungry innards with a cup of hot sour coffee and a plate of bland sunny side up quail eggs with two burnt slices of bread and diced potatoes, or a saucy sausage breakfast burrito with tiny pieces of meat and lots of garlic. In times when donations did not seem to amount much for our little luxuries, Sister Maria- the cook-, would instead prepare her overrated charro beans soup on the table. But before we could dive our hands into our meal, we would pray.

I whined at these moments, sometimes while playing a spoon with my hand. There was one time Sister Maria- the alarm clock- caught me rolling my eyes as Sister Maria- the Grammar teacher- said it was time to give thanks to the Lord for the food on the table. There were times I was happy to oblige to this when the food seemed good, but that day was the charro beans soup day. And Sister Maria, the formidable Maria of the seven Marias in the boys’ orphanage and the one who alarmed us at dawn, came to me in tight strides.

I was ready for an ear pinching and beating. But the formidable Sister Maria only stood behind me and placed her two hands on my shoulders. It was not even a tight grip, but a simple touch bored with caution. I smelled the caution from her hands, not just felt it. Because whenever you see the formidable Sister Maria, you approach her with caution, regardless of who approaches first. She smelled like old people, too.

“Is there a problem chico?” she calmly asked, still not moving a finger on my shoulders.

“Nothing that I know, Sister. Well, is there a problem I should be concerned of?” I asked in pure sarcasm, though I was stiff as a stone at her presence.

“Maybe… if you stop being an ingrate for a second. If I were you, I’d be patient enough to wait for my release, which is a year from now. I’d be 17 at that time, not too young or too old to explore the world outside, but certainly incapable and unknowing of how to move around after a 17-year confinement. The world out there is not what you think it is, not the kind one chico. Certainly not. If you think this place stinks like piss, wait ’til you see the outside,” she paused for a few seconds and continued in a gentler tone, “So why don’t you make every second in here count? You’ll miss the food and accommodation a year from now for sure.”

“I hope not. The meals started to become predictable when I was six. Prayers became meaningless when I turned twelve. I still don’t know your names and assume you are all Marias. And I’m dying to get out of here since then,” I said as I slightly turned around and craned my neck to see her eye to eye.

The tension in the air rose, though the children from the far end tables continued eating, oblivious to what was happening. The teens, on the other hand, were aware I was at it again. They fairly knew my ability to get into the formidable Sister Maria’s nerves.

Sister Maria heaved a painful sigh and removed her hands off my shoulders. Then, caught by surprised, my right ear suddenly stung. Sister Maria was grabbing it with her two tiny fingers. I flinched in agony, fighting the urge to scream in pain and give her the satisfaction of seeing me submit to her authority. But I had no choice. I bit my tongue behind clenched teeth as I followed her outside the kitchen, toward the front left side of the orphanage.

Damn my ear hurt like it was struck with fire. The strength of the formidable Sister Maria did not surprise me though. No matter how well-fed we looked at the boy’s orphanage, her ear pinching would carry us around. Our bulky stature was no match for her two tiny fingers.

I was outside then, a bit glad that I escaped the day’s lectures and prayers. I was a veteran at that and would exchange my limited privileges plotting my escape under the sweltering heat of the sun. Then, regret would dawn at me by noon, as the stinging temperature and humidity become insufferable. I would bathe myself in sweat and remain stinking by the end of the day- hungry, parched, and feeling idiotic.

Inside the orphanage, the prayers would go on: the Angelus at noon, the giving of thanks before lunch, the three o’clock prayer, the Angelus at dusk, the giving of thanks before supper, a quick visit at the chapel which I would skip, and the prayer for a good night’s sleep. The last, I had barely practiced. We lived there like monks, but lived with some nuns, ironically.

Anyway, I realized Sister Maria, the formidable, was somehow right. Although I respect authority, I easily lose it when the people put in that role cannot justify things or put logic into perspective. That time, Sister Maria might have said her side well. One year is not that long, only if I would sleep it through or do something worthwhile aside from the routine. Besides, I had my three other amigos in the orphanage who understood my detestation for the norm. I had Manuel, Jimmy, and Hugo- three men who knew I was not one to keep in a cage. But these three amigos also believed, by suggestion, that I enjoyed a solitary life most of the time. That was why they did not do the things that I did.

That noon, I was already sitting on the front steps of the kitchen’s exit door. I saw some little boys, ages six to nine, running around inside the huge sandbox in front of the building. It was after lunch and they were enjoying a 30-minute break before classes resumed. I felt a pang of envy because those little brats had their breakfast and lunch heartily, obviously not minding how predictable their meals were. I could use a glass of cold water to cure my hunger, or jealousy, to say the least.

As if God heard my inner desire- not prayer because like I said, I do not pray when I am alone- Sister Maria, the mother superior, sat beside me and casually handed me a tall glass of cold water.

“Here, have something to relieve your hunger,” the mother superior said.

“Thanks,” I simply said in awe and wonder. Not quite used to this gesture, I started to become queasy. As she sat down there beside me, I could imagine some talc-like dusts clinging on her black habit, exactly the shape of her bottom, not in a lasciviously way though.

“You know kid, I’d like to help you sometimes. You know, just let you outta here, opening the gates wide open. But I’m doing your mother a favour. Whoever left you here,” she said, as if my biological mother obliged them to take me in until I turn ripe at seventeen.

“Nah, don’t bother. I can take care of myself,” I said before chugging the water down in two quick successions. The coolness washed over my dried throat, expounding the soreness in each hard gulp.

“We’re not depriving you of food. We only want you to realize how you can earn it by simply being good. It’s all common sense if you come think of it. In here, you are no god, but you can be an angel,” she replied with a lilt in her voice.

I looked at her from head to toe, as though I was sizing her up. I thought she was no more than sixty years old, old enough to become my grandmother. She had exaggerated creases on the forehead and little lines on both sides of her mouth. I’m not even surprised, as years of taking care of boys is no easy feat for a woman. But Sister Maria, the mother superior, just acted cool and confident that she could talk with boys my age.

Check out this review of An Abundance of Katherines

Here is a review by Nikkah: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1166906397


I admit this book tickled me the most above all YA novels I had read. Its light, crafty humor had me giggling at best. But although I like it in a way I like toddlers, I also find it some sort of annoying. Reading An Abundance of Katherines led me to believe I might be old for this YA stuff.

I thought Colin could have made use of his superb intellect making something more worthy than formulating a theorem for his inability to keep a Katherine. He spent straining his neck, as well as his 200+ IQ, on what I think is a crappy subject for his level of intelligence- regardless of how he applied math in there. But maybe this is why he never became a genius.

For Colin Singleton, “You matter as much as the things that matter to you.”… And what only mattered to him was how he can keep a relationship last, especially with a Katherine- the reason for the roadtrip, which, by the way, led him to a more self-centered person than he was: Lindsey.

However, above everything else I just said, is a praise I would like to give to John Green for his clever writing and humor. Green saved the book, annoyed me with the hopeless romatic Colin and his theorem, and saved the book again.

Artists Are Never Satisfied


I do not always feel content. This can be seen by how I end my stories and artworks. What I often do is abandon my work, as if it is finished, as if I am already contented with what I have done. But I am never content about it. Every time I see my work, I think of what I could have done more if I continued working on it, but I could not care less of finishing it.  Though, it looks like it’s done.

To say that I am already content with my work although it isn’t finished yet is wrong. That’s just how I see my work- when I feel that it is done, it is done. It is a feeling of some sort of unhappiness, but never of contentment or satisfaction.  I am never satisfied. There will always be a fragment of wonder and regret on each piece.

To the people who see it, they think I have done a wonderful complete job.  Some are fascinated by unfinished works, thinking they are already done when the creators think they really are not.

That is also how I see art: incomplete, unsatisfied. That is how I see artists: dissatisfied, frustrated more often than not. Artists keep moving on.

War, death, and moving on to a new place are also some of the reasons creative pieces are sometimes left incomplete.

Where were Mona Lisa’s eyebrows? What was Tolkien searching for that he failed to finish The Silmarillion? Would Hemingway be happy about the posthumous publishing of his unfinished novels if he was alive? How would Kafka feel that his unfinished stories were published against his request to destroy them after his death?

There are just things that are better left undone. People have this need to fill the gap on some fascinating, yet incomplete works of art. They are given the chance to grab an insight into the minds of their creators. These creators, like I am, are impulsive. We are moved by intense feelings, and when these feelings subside in the middle of our work…