Wrap Up of The Year in December

I can't believe the time to make my last wrap-up of the year has come. Being the month with the most books I read this year, December gives me hope for a better reading life in the months to come. What the end of an era.

Following the story of a seventeen-year-old girl named Molly Peskin-Suso who has never been kissed her entire life, this book starts with her unexpected encounter with Mina, the girl that will soon make her twin sister Cassie head over heels in love. Luckily for Molly, Mina befriends a cute hipster boy called Will who seems to have an interest in her (or so Cassie, Mina, and Olivia think). As a girl with a certain weight, Molly has always been careful. With both Cassie and Mina unsubtly pushing her to Will's orbit, for the first time in forever, Molly is trying to be more than just her usual self. She wants to be brave and win him over. But somehow, Molly can't seem to stop thinking about her awkward co-worker Reid with his passion for Tolkien and his stupidly electric-white sneakers.

One thing was for sure about this book: I had picked the perfect material. The Upside of Unrequited was such a cute, heartwarming book about crushes, friendship, and sisterhood with so many great reps. I liked that this book didn't force the characters to become something they weren't but instead highlighted the importance of accepting who they truly were. While I couldn't really feel the chemistry between the couples in this book and I thought that except for Molly the other characters didn't exactly stand out, I would still recommend this book if you are thinking about picking up something light and pretty sweet. It might be predictable, but I bet you still want to finish it regardless.

Following the story of a world where North America is nothing but the past, people are now living in the nation of Panem, in which lies the colorful Capitol, surrounded by twelve big districts. Each year, the Capitol requires every district to send a boy and a girl from the age range of twelve to eighteen. Chosen from either a public reaping or volunteering, every tribute will be paraded in a long show that will lead them to the annual Hunger Games, where they will fight each other for their lives. During the 74th Hunger Games in District 12, for the first time in the district's history, sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to be the girl tribute to take her sister’s place. Together with the reaped boy Peeta Mellark, both are brought to the Capitol to prepare themselves for the big game. Under the supervision of Haymitch, the past and only living winner of District 12, Katniss and Peeta are trying their best to fight for their livestogether at first, until the fact that there can only be one winner resurfaces and they have to make the decision of their life.

For me, there is no doubt that The Hunger Games has been the best rereading experience so far these past few years. It took me three days to call it a wrapI was so quick, partly because I had forgotten many details in it, and the other because it was still as good as I had remembered. Slightly better, even. I could easily detach my mind from the movie image of Katniss and Peeta because their voices in this book seemed to me so vivid. Every decision, shaped by the agency of anger and lack of power, made them feel so near and real, thus it was really easy to be captivated by the story.

Can You Keep a Secret follows the story of Emma Corrigan, a twenty-five-year-old junior marketing representative from Panther Cola who accidentally spills all of her secrets to a handsome stranger on the plane during a life-and-death situation. Or at least that is what Emma thinks. She proceeds to tell the man that Connor, her boyfriend, is so Ken-like; that her office's coffee sucks it almost tastes like poison; that she has been secretly watering her annoying colleague's plant with orange juice; and so on. Upon recovering, Emma realizes how humiliating the experience has been. But since the man is only a stranger, she doesn't worry about it too much... that's it, until she comes face-to-face with the company's CEO from the State, and she discovers that the stranger is actually Jack freaking Harper. One of Panther Cola's founders.

I knew I could always rely on Sophie Kinsella's rom-com for a good laugh. Can You Keep a Secret was an awesome, hilarious read that I finished in almost one sitting. Emma was a typical Kinsella heroineshe had to suffer some major humiliations, she internally blabbered a lot, and she ended up with the bossthough you wouldn't see me complaining. Kinsella had proved that she could weave these similar tropes into different entertaining stories, and I would always be here for them. If you are looking for something cute and haven't read this book yet, consider yourself lucky to come across this review. Emma and Jack's romance could be something cute (and fun) that you are currently looking for.

(Please skip this part if you haven't read The Hunger Games yet)
Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark have won the 74th Hunger Games together. For the first time in the game's history, two living winners are going home to their district's Victors' Village. Katniss would be happy to reunite with her mother, her sister Prim, and her best friend Gale in District 12, if not for the Capitol looking at both her and Peeta coming out of the game alive as a sort of rebellion. Katniss has to be careful. For all she knows, the cruel President Snow is watching her every move. To keep all of her loved ones safe, Katniss has to act like she is completely in love with Peeta and convince the whole world that she never means to rebel, and that all she does, she does for love.

If my sister claimed Catching Fire as her favorite installment, I would say that this book, albeit so good, still couldn't top the first one in so many ways. For starters, the first half of this book felt too slow-going. Please remember that I didn't dislike this part. I liked that we got to slowly experience the built-up tension between the last Hunger Games and the upcoming Quarter Quell, but because actions were jam-packed in the last several chapters, this book didn't feel as nerve-racking as the first one.

(Please skip this part if you haven't read The Hunger Games and Catching Fire yet)
Katniss is trapped in the underground. Peeta is imprisoned in the Capitol. The 75th Hunger Games certainly didn’t end well, leaving Katniss with a mental problem and a huge demand to become the Mockingjay, the face of the rebel. While Katniss can eventually see the urgency of the request, she has several conditions to propose in return. Now being under the supervision of President Coin of District 13, she can’t eliminate the feeling of being yet another puppet. But her desire to kill President Snow hasn’t died out. With her voice, she tries to unite all the districts to overthrow Snow and his reign in the Capitol.

I finished Mockingjay in two days, meaning that even though I had a few delayed qualms, this book was still so good in its own way. I liked how the author left enough room for Katniss to grieve and accept her condition. I liked how it highlighted the evilness of war and how it affected people who had nothing to do with it the worst, mainly commoners and children. I liked how Peeta didn’t come back with a bowtie and was all ready for Katniss to continue her romance confusion. And much to my surprise, I really liked the ending. In the end, it was still a good reread that highlighted my December reading journey.

(It's a local book so I'm gonna write the review in Bahasa)
Bercerita tentang sebuah kota kecil bernama Dingley, buku ini memperkenalkan sebuah komunitas religi bernama 'The Path to Blessings'. Orang-orang di komunitas tersebut hidup berdasarkan arahan sang pemimpin, Paman Manwel, tanpa benar-benar terkoneksi dengan dunia luar. Berdasarkan kepercayaan mereka, kehidupan di luar komunitas penuh dengan kesesatan yang harus dihindari. Alex Agius adalah seorang anggota komunitas yang baru berusia lima belas tahun. Meski begitu, Alex sudah berusaha mati-matian seumur hidupnya untuk menjadi pengikut komunitas yang setia. Alex percaya peraturan yang ketat penting untuk kebaikan setiap anggota. Sayangnya, usaha Alex seringkali tidak berjalan mulus karena Sophie, adik kembarnya, terus menerus membangkang. Ketika suatu hari Sophie tertangkap basah melanggar peraturan, konsekuensi yang menanti perbuatan Sophie nyatanya menggelitik diri Alex lebih dari yang ia inginkan. Alex perlahan mulai mempertanyakan semua yang sudah diyakininya, termasuk ajaran Paman Manwel.

Sebagai pecinta dokumenter, kesan yang buku ini berikan terasa familiar buat saya. Membaca buku ini, meskipun saya tahu ini fiksi, terasa seperti menonton versi lebih detail dari sebuah film dokumenter karena diceritakan melalui sudut pandang sang korban. Pembaca dibawa untuk ikut menyaksikan perubahan perspektif dan dilema si tokoh utama. Saya yang awalnya merasa geregetan dengan karakter Alex perlahan-lahan ikut merasa frustasi dan sedih dengan keadaannya. Meskipun pada akhirnya arah buku ini dapat dengan mudah ditebak, hal tersebut tidak mengurangi rasa penasaran saya untuk tetap lanjut membaca. Dengan rahasia yang pelan-pelan terkuak, buku ini tentu tak lepas dari konflik yang hilang timbul, persis seperti pada kehidupan umumnya, dan ditutup dengan ending yang sangat realistis.