Book: Crash


Life’s too short to slow down, and no one knows this better than the young, the rich, and the screwed up.

In ‘The Faster They go…,’ the kids of The M of A and the P face the biggest, most dramatic situation their pretty heads and shiny hair have to fave ever: they are NOT invited to the biggest open party of the season! That sucks, really, especially if you already planned on who you’re wearing, right? Shit.

In ‘The Harder They Crash,’ things take a turn for the worse as they realize that surviving through the school year means dealing with the biggest threat they have to face: each other. With hearts racing, and hormones raging, there’s no stopping now.

Two exciting stories, one not quite unreal sequel. Brace yourself. You’re in for a ride.

I’m confused. It hasn’t been that long since I put down the first book in Siege Malvar’s Not Quite Unreal series, but I seem to have lost all grasp of what’s going on. Is it because the book doesn’t immediately pick up from the events of the first novel? Maybe.

What I do know is this: the writing is tighter, and characters are given space to breathe, even at the expense of diminished ‘screen time’ for others. Good things. Unfortunately, this also highlights the book’s weakness: its lack of focus.

Roles, the first novel off the Not Quite Unreal series, made the collective cast its main character. While everyone had different goals and different story lines, it all connected to one thing: the role image plays in the lives of people. Crash, on the other hand, had no uniting theme.

We know who the characters are. We know their dreams. We know where they are going. But, like Glee in Season 4, the characters don’t seem to know who they are in relation to each other anymore. It’s one major weakness that makes Crash pale in comparison to its predecessor. Because, suddenly, instead of having one major character, we have a bunch of minor ones who are scrambling at the tiny scraps of pages they are given to work with.

Crash lives up to its title. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing. The stories crash. And clash. And I wonder if this is the book the author wanted to write. Because while the writing is cleaner, it also doesn’t feel like the Malvar we read in Roles and Wakasang Wasak: books written before and after Crash, respectively.

What happened?

The book cuts off at another cliffhanger, pretty much promising a third book in the series. But seeing as Crash was published five years ago, one has to wonder what’s taking Visprint so long to publish it. Have they dropped the title? Or is Malvar taking his time in writing the follow up?

Whatever the answer may be, I just hope Malvar brings back the magic of Roles that he lost in Crash: the sense of unity that made readers want to like this bunch of unlikeable rich kids.

Book: Roles, a Not Quite Unreal Novel

"Roles: A Not Quite Unreal Novel"Enter the world of the young and the loaded.

With the auditions for the next TV star coming closer and closer, the students of THE Montessori of Asia and Pacific start to get more desperate. All the drama takes center stage as they start to realize that life often leaves you without a script.

Thrown into this wild world is the newcomer Olivia Pokangpokang-Schaultz. She’s got beauty, brains…and a dirty little secret.

Who doesn’t have a dirty little secret or two?

What’s yours?

Olivia Pokangpokang-Schaultz’s dirty little secret is, admittedly, not what I was expecting. Although, the book doesn’t really hide it. You kind of get what it is as soon as author Siege Malvar gets to describing who she is.

But Roles isn’t just about Olivia. Once you read the novel, you might even argue that Olivia is not even the main character of the story. The real point of anchors are Nathan and Orestes–which is made even more evident by the novel’s end. So I have to wonder why the publishers thought it would be better to highlight Olivia’s character.

Is it because she’s the newcomer? Well, then the editor should have told Malvar to position Olivia better under the spotlight. Because, as it is, Olivia is barely a supporting player in this story about roles.

Yes, the story is about roles. Which is why I didn’t say Nathan nor Orestes are the main characters. They’re point of anchors because they connect the characters together, but the actual main character is expectation: the roles that people are making these characters assume.

Roles revolves around the lives of senior high school students who are ready to leave the lives they’ve led for lives that they can control. From being what is expected, they are now expected to be who they are–and this is all the more underlined when they are encouraged to be who they are…through an audition for a reality-based talent search being held in their school.

And although I’m not a fan of the abrupt ending, and the lack of clear structure, I must commend the book for what it is: an unapologetic take on teenagers and their issues, from the perspective of someone from the outside.

I also like the snarky humor that author Carlos Malvar employs.

To tell you the truth, I’ve never actually been intrigued by Roles. Or Crash, the sequel, for all the years I’ve seen them on bookstore shelves. There’s something about the cover, and the synopsis, that just doesn’t draw me. It was goodwill from Wakasang Wasak that prodded me to finally give this book a try.

So far, I’m not regretting my decision. But let’s see if I can still say the same when I finally read the sequel.

In the meantime, let’s read what other netizens have written about Roles:
The Deity of Manila