The (Un)Reality Show

Writer: Clara Ng
Publisher: PT Gramedia Pustaka Utama
Publication date: February, 2005
Pages: 352 pages, 20 cm
Language: Indonesia

Two words to describe this book, shockable and unpredictable. This book is not a new book, it has been published since 2005, but the novel from one of my favorite Indonesian writers, Clara Ng, is reprinted with new cover –and I just bought it several days before and just finished it two days ago.

The (Un)Reality Show tells us about 8 ordinary people (3 women, 1 little girl, and 4 men) with 8 different characteristics from 8 different backgrounds, randomly selected, and have to live under one roof as part of a TV show, The (Un)Reality Show. They act as themselves, live their lives as usual in their daily, but all their steps is recorded by all cameras in the home where they live (exclude toilets and bedrooms). One challenge per week should be done and no rejection. We can imagine, how if 8 never-met-before people live in a house for seven weeks and their characteristics in opposition to each other? The whole house is at sixes and sevens almost everyday!

But, the story is not only that simple. In every chapter, readers will find many shockable story from every characters in this novel. There is Primus, the most good-looking man who love to wear cartoon print underwear; Jodi, an irritable man who can not forget his past; Feivel, an anxious man with sexual disorder; Richard, a quiet man who served time in prison for killing; Wendy, a cheerful woman with bad experience from her past; Tara, the sexiest and most beautiful woman who can read and depends on tarot cards for everything; Azuza, a ten years old mature-minded girl whose parents are lesbian couple; and Meiying, a Chinese housewife who is not ready to be a wife, but want it to be. In the end of this book, readers will know that they are same. Hmm, what I mean? Hahaha 😀 You should read this novel, The (Un)Reality Show, to find the answer and I promise you a very unpredictable ending.

The (Un)Reality Show still contains Clara Ng’s favorite topic, sexual disorder. Clara Ng knows how to make readers think more about it and let them choose whether it is acceptably or not, because most of us still think that sexual disorder is an unspoken topic, but nowadays it is not anymore. This novel also gives us explanation about an illness, an unusual illness called Dissociative identity disorder or most people known as Multiple Personality. It will remind us about the story of The Minds of Billy Milligan, if you have read this book or at least know the story –I only know it, not read it yet 😛 Hey, I give you the answer just now! Hffftttt 😕 But, you must be still curious about the story in this novel, is it?

Overall, this novel is interesting. No wonder, the writer is my favorite writer. Hehehe 😛 But, I think the story in the middle of this novel is a bit monotonous and it makes me feel a little bored of the story. This part is about the challenge per week and they are not too nerve-racking as challenges, so I did not feel challenging to read it. Another thing which makes less worth for this novel is many typographical errors in almost every chapter.

The power of this book is on the characteristics of every character that create many problems among them and the writer creates them successfully. I also have read some reviews about this book and most of them do not really like about the ending. They wrote that the ending is too forced to be, but for me, it is a very good ending of an Indonesian novel. Indonesian readers must be know, most of novels in book store in Indonesia now is just about love and standard story with very-easy-to-predict ending, always two-never-met-before-boys-and-girls-suddenly-meet-in-an-unexpected-situation-then-fall-in-love-but-there-are-some-accidents-they-are-apart-but-in-the-end-they-have-their-happily-ever-after. Such a boring book to read! But The (Un)Reality Show is totally different, that is why I do not know why those people think this book has a weird ending.

This novel creates one question in my mind: “How if our life now is not really ours?”


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