Fixi Novo, RM19.90, ISBN 978-967-0750-54-5
This is basically a white dude expat’s take on Taman Negara being the playground of death and mayhem. I’m sorry, but while I’m pretty sure some people would go, “Ooh, the hills in Taman Negara have eyes!” I end up rolling up my eyes at the whole premise. It’s not that an author can’t pull it off, the problem here is that this author can’t pull it off.
The first problem here is the size of the cast. We have ten – ten! – characters trekking into Taman Negara, some for reasons that go beyond enjoying some time among nature, and there is problem when the only one that stands out is Rahim, the tour guide, and that’s because he’s local. The remaining nine are all tourists, and the guys all blur together and become hard to tell apart after a while, same with the ladies. This is because, despite the author spending a bulk of the first handful of pages telling me these characters’ background tales, these characters are all stereotypes. Poorly developed ones, at that. Worse, after a while, this bunch of whiny and often stupid dolts can all sink in quicksand – especially those “Oh no, trekking through the woods is hard!” dingbats, shudder – and I won’t shed a tear. I would probably howl in laughter, though.
The second problem here is that there is barely any trimming of the cast until way later in the story – way too late for me to care, that is. I was led to believe by the synopsis in the back cover that this would be a story filled with death, danger, and other ooh stuff. However, for much of the story, it’s about these bunch of losers bumbling and arguing their way through some third-rate reality TV thing that would make I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! look like world-class TV.
No killer tigers, no orang bunian, no cannibals, not even enough accidental deaths to entertain me – which is a pity, as these bunch of twerps are screaming to be killed off in awesomely horrible ways. Wild Things is anything but wild, I’m afraid.