Di Sebalik Dinara by Dayang Noor

Yes, this is a Malay book, but I am still going to review it in English because I CAN. 

Di Sebalik Dinara is a Malay sci-fi fiction that is also a part of Form 4 Bahasa Melayu komsas reading. I am not a Bahasa Melayu expert and have zero experience in the subject teaching. But as a teacher, you just need to be flexible and improve your inconveniences. That was why I made this Saturday's mission to finish this 227 page book, in order to understand the story, know the characters, the plot, theme, settings and everything else so I could discuss and teach it to my students.

At first, I was really glad that the literature component for this year was not some cliched Malay, Chinese, and Indian friendship themed story in a simple kampong vs city lifestyle morality setting. God I'm so tired of that crap. My kids are creative and they deserved better. That was why I was elated with this book since it was not always you get to find a Malay sci-fi fiction as a high school reading component. Mind you, most of the local sci-fi fiction sucks because they were always so uninteresting and the science stuff outdated. 

Was Di Sebalik Dinara good though? Did it manage to outshine the crappy books before it?

Well, no. Not at all. The book got poor plot and get worse near the end, boring characters, and offered no new insights about technology. I literally struggled to keep awake the whole time I was reading this book, drinking coffee and washing my face with cold water just to keep going. It was a miracle I manage to finish this in a day.

The plot was supposed to be something about Dinara (I still don't know whether it is an advanced communication technology or some sort of cloning hardware) being affected by virus, and a bunch of fishy guys tricking some poor woman with supposedly amazing hacking ability to help them out. You know it did have an interesting premise, but the whole plot fell flat because of the lack of explanation about anything. I mean, what the hell is Dinara? Why the hell it was so important? What's with all the secrets? Who was hacking? Medina/Marilyn was purportedly the hacker but even when she was out of the question, Dinara was still in danger. What the F is going on? 

You see, the conflict was almost non-existence. There was supposed to be some sort of virus and "lives of people were at stake" going on, but they were just mentioned in passing, never shown to the readers. The story focused more on this bed-ridden old genius guy Karl, the oh-so-clever-and-amazingly-genius hacker Farisha, the secrets of the three weird boring Dr. Maxi, Aqram and Khairul, and the communication via dreaming or- drug induced hallucination? All in the name to save Dinara which was never clear as well. There were also the past about how Karl was a jerk mad scientist but just told by the characters. What was the conflict? Was it the virus? Was it the rivalry between Karl and Medina? Was it Farisha discovering who her real parents were? If all these were conflicts, then where the hell were the tensions? All of the "conflicts" presented didn't bring any excitement to the story and they didn't last. Instead they jump from one another as if the author didn't know what she was writing.

My students said the ending was weird and I agree with them. I felt it was rushed and stupid. So, Dr Maxi, Aqram and Khairul planted the microchip into Shida so Karl could use her for- I don't know what for- and took over her body and mind. It was supposed to be Farisha because Farisha was the one who knew all about hacking stuff and Shida was entirely clueless about it. Therefore I don't know why these three idiots thought they needed Shida to be a new vessel for Karl when even Karl himself stated she was useless to him. Did they wanted to plant Karl into Shida thus rendering Shida void of her ownself? So that means if Shida was not around, Karl was going to render Farisha a husk instead, his own daughter, like seriously? No, Farisha was saved from that horrible fate. Shida was not so lucky. Aqram and Khairul was like "oh noes we can't do that to Shida, she's a human being not a robot to be possessed by an asshole like Karl" even though in the beginning they didn't oppose the idea AT ALL. Then at the end when Karl started philosophizing about life (that scene was terrible, he's not a philosopher, he's just stuck up) through Shida, that would mean Shida was truly gone and Karl had taken her mind over. And guess what, Aqram, one of the guy supposedly with conscience, was happy that Karl was alive, completely forgetting that Shida might had been gone forever. What the F, man?

No, this book is stupid. Just, stupid.