This is the official blog of Winna Efendi, author of several bestselling Indonesian novels.

Senin, 29 Oktober 2012

(book) Beautiful Lies by Jessica Warman


Rachel and Alice are an extremely rare kind of identical twins-so identical that even their aunt and uncle, whom they've lived with since their parents passed away, can't tell them apart. But the sisters are connected in a way that goes well beyond their surfaces: when one experiences pain, the other exhibits the exact same signs of distress. So when one twin mysteriously disappears, the other immediately knows something is wrong-especially when she starts experiencing serious physical traumas, despite the fact that nobody has touched her. As the search commences to find her sister, the twin left behind must rely on their intense bond to uncover the truth. But is there anyone around her she can trust, when everyone could be a suspect? And ultimately, can she even trust herself? 


I've read so many glowing reviews about this book and I've always been fascinated with twin stories since I read Sweet Valley.

The idea is great, until it gets confusing to one point. I like both Alice and Rachel, and it's a bit jarring to have that sudden twist in the story, especially when the narration does not change. We are left to keep guessing, much as the main character is left to her own devices. It gets a little creepy afterwards, especially the dreams and images she gets, and the cover of both girls staring out gets me pretty freaked out.

The prose is simple but often too long and descriptive, I find myself wanting to skip the scenery and get right to the point. The plot is weaved nicely but not as taut as it could be. I love the flashbacks most but sometimes they're so long I get confused. The mystery is built from the very start but there's too much descriptions of the character's anxiety with not much happening that it takes the thrill away.

I love the surprising twist at the end, although I wish it could have a different ending.

3/5 stars.

(manhwa) Sepeda Merah

Sukaa sekali dengan karya Kim Dong Hwa. Membacanya membuat pikiran lebih terbuka, tenang dan merasa kaya. Buku-buku beliau dipenuhi ilustrasi yang indah dan sederhana, tanpa sketsa kompleks tapi kaya detail. Kali ini warna-warna cerah juga mengisi gambarnya, tidak pastel lembut seperti Warna Air, Warna Tanah dan Warna Angin.

Kisah sang pak pos bersepeda sederhana sebenarnya, dengan secuil cerita-cerita perihal penduduk desa, ada yang masih hidup sederhana dengan bercocok tanam, ada juga yang hidup cukup mewah dari desa yang lebih modern. Tapi justru kesederhanaan penduduk desa terpencillah yang membuat lebih 'kaya', dengan kesimpelan hidup dan pemikiran mereka yang tidak neko-neko tapi sangat rendah hati.

It makes us appreciate the little details in life. Saya berharap bisa seperti pak pos yang sabaaaar dan selalu mengapresiasi hal kecil dalam hidup, seperti bebungaan di sepanjang jalan, melihat pemandangan indah walau perjalanannya jauh dan susah sampai melewati hutan dan tempat curam. Juga menikmati apa yang ada walau rutinitasnya mungkin selintas membosankan, mengirim surat ke entah siapa setiap hari, juga harus melewati salju tebal saat musim dingin.

Sabtu, 27 Oktober 2012

(movie) The Silent War

photo taken from Wikipedia

Movies on espionage usually interest me, but to some level I expect them to be complicated, full of tension, and often gory details. The Silent War excels in its beautiful cinematography, wonderful casting, and a quiet beauty that hides the intricate details in such a manner that leaves us feeling sad long after the movie ends.

The movie is about a secret agent during the 1950's, a woman named Xue Ning (Zhou Xun), who was told to fetch a piano tuner with exceptional hearing to aid their cause in finding radio frequencies that were messed up by the enemy. She encountered the tuner's assistant Bing (Tony Leung), and brought him to their basecamp. He proved to be a great aid, and with his help they located over 100 channels to intercept the enemy's message.

It's interesting, but not exciting. I felt like it was more of a drama instead of a taut thriller film, but didn't mind it one bit. Zhou Xun is amazing as always, and I found her self assurance fun to watch because it fit her role so well. The ending is beautiful, and we can see how the actors convey so much message with one look and we understand why they do what they do. It just breaks my heart, one scene after another, especially when Bing realizes what he has caused and how he cannot take it back.

This movie's not for an audience looking for a fun exhilirating spy movie, but it's definitely worth the watch. 4/5 stars.

Kamis, 25 Oktober 2012

(book) Why We Broke Up

I came across this gem of a book in Kinokuniya. Not what I was looking for at the time, and not a title I've heard before. I don't read Lemony Snicket and didn't know Daniel Handler was him. Fortunately, the book was open, and it was the only one in store. I flipped through the pages and found the illustrations, as well as the unique premise on the synopsis. It's really interesting, and though from the first few pages I wasn't sure if it was something I'd like, I finally went against my better judgement (or so I thought then) and bought it.

Boy, was it a ride I'd remember. I love all the characters - Min, Ed, Al, Joan, Lauren, Jillian, Annette, everyone was so flawed and so real.

Min's voice is distinct, and while I don't always relate to her, I can see how 'different' she really is and why everybody thinks so. Her narration on movies and the detailed chronologies of what happened with Ed can annoy some readers. Even though I'm a big movie buff myself, I haven't seen any of the movies she talks about, the bad, the weird, the old.

The story is bittersweet, and we keep bracing for impact on what is inevitable: the breakup. But what's best is the twist at the end, so heartbreaking I feel for Min. I loved Ed just as she did, and could see why and how she was falling in love with him.

I love the story a lot. It's something we can all relate to, how we probably loved someone goddamn much and in the end got our hearts broken, when we'd already given it all - both literally and figuratively. I'm not sure if I'll read any of the author's and illustrator's books, since this is something I feel I'll rarely come across again... but when I have it, I appreciate the beauty of it. Definitely a keeper.

Sabtu, 20 Oktober 2012

Unforgettable dan Truth or Dare dalam Long List Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia 2012

Nggak terasa sudah lewat setahun sejak Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia 2011... sekarang sudah masuk penghujung tahun 2012 dan saatnya kembali memilih buku favorit kita :)

Puji Tuhan kedua bukuku yang terbit di awal dan pertengahan tahun 2012 masuk dalam Long List pertama Anugerah Pembaca Indonesia 2012. Saya pribadi suka sekali mengikuti award-award buku baik lokal (seperti Khatulistiwa Literary Award dan API ini), maupun internasional, dan berharap di Indonesia banyak penghargaan buku serupa. Adanya acara-acara buku seperti Ubud Writer Festival dan penghargaan merupakan warna-warni tersendiri bagi dunia menulis dan membaca, dan saya sangat senang telah diberikan kesempatan menjadi bagian dari itu semua.

Seperti tahun-tahun sebelumnya, sangat terharu bisa bersanding dengan nama-nama kelas berat. Kali ini ada Ibuk karya Iwan Setyawan yang saya suka, juga karya Dee yang fenomenal. Saya paham karya-karya saya tidak sehebat milik mereka, namun seandainya teman-teman telah membaca dan menyukai Unforgettable dan Truth or Dare, akan sangat tersanjung jika buku-buku saya tersebut mendapatkan voting kalian :)

Unforgettable dan Truth or Dare masuk dalam kategori Fiksi Favorit dan Kover Fiksi Favorit. Keduanya dapat divoting di: http://festivalpembacaindonesia.com/2012/10/20/polling-anugerah-pembaca-indonesia-2012-longlist-tahap-i-2/

Bagi teman-teman yang sudah membaca keduanya dan meresensi atau mereviewnya di Goodreads, terima kasih sebesar-besarnya. It means a lot to me :)

-Winna Efendi-

Senin, 15 Oktober 2012

(book) Circle of Fire

I'm actually glad I just recently discovered this trilogy because frankly, I'm happier when I don't need to wait a year for the next book to come out.

Circle of Fire is the last installment in the series. Lia, the Angel of the Gate is out looking for the Stone and the last remaining key. She sets out on a journey to Ireland based on a researcher's discovery on what the passage means, and to banish Samael forever she also needs Alice's help. That part is the hardest.

The first few chapters are almost agonizingly slow. I fell asleep at one point, during her journey to Ireland with Dimitri where she meets Maeve, and I don't ever fall asleep when reading. However, it pays off after that. There are so many new characters that arouse suspicion, and there are enough twists and turns to keep us guessing. The outcome is also quite satisfactory.

One thing I'm not happy about is Lia's character. She has grown from a passive character to one so prickly and full of distrust that I find her slightly unlikeable. Of course she's strong and she grows even more so after the challenges she faces and the difficulties she endures, but that demeanor is making me feel she's an entirely different person.

I also don't feel that the final outcome is properly heartfelt and satisfactory. I want to know what happens when Lia travels to the Plane and meets Samael. I want to know what happens outside of that, and the trigger behind 'the big surprise'. I want to know more about the lives of the others after everything ends. I wish we could have an epilogue of some sort.

I also wish we get to see more of Lia's actual power - one as a Spellcaster, instead of the scrying talent that is being quite repetitive in the book. I want to see her fight, and strong, and for the Sisters to lend her power (like that one hair rising chapter with the Sisters protecting Lia when she supposedly 'dreams').

That being said, I'm happy enough with everything and I'm sad to see it end ;)

Sabtu, 06 Oktober 2012

(book) Anna and the French Kiss

A lot of people have raved about this book and finally it piques my curiosity despite its bland synopsis. The story is about an American girl named Anna, whose father made her spend her senior year in School of America in Paris. Yes, Paris, the city of light. She falls in love with a boy who becomes her best friend, but he's taken and so is she (kind of). The book follows her adventures with Paris, theaters and movies, the boy, her friends, and her life in both Atlanta and Paris.

When I say the synopsis is boring, it is because it describes the whole book perfectly but does not properly sum up the complication of the relationships in the book. In fact, I feel that personally, the book is full of contradictions - both good and bad, and is what makes it so endearing.

I'm torn between giving it 3 or 4 stars and end up with 3.5 out of 5. Why?

The characters

The characters are what makes this book alive. Anna and Etienne are so real they leap off the pages and carry the story forward. Both of them are flawed, and sometimes not in a good way. Their flaws and mistakes make me grit my teeth and wish they can be honest with each other. Minor spoilers ahead!

Etienne refuses to break up with Ellie for what I know to be perfectly valid and reasonable reasons, but also stupid. Their relationship is not one can brag about, but the comfort and familiar that he emphasizes are not shown enough in the book for readers to believe it. It makes me wish the character Ellie is developed more. I wish we can see snippets of Ellie instead of what is filtered through Rashmi/Etienne/Mer/Anna's eyes and see her for who she is. I wish I know the motivations behind Ellie's decision to drop her friends at SOAP. I wish I can see how Etienne is when he's with Ellie. I wish we can experience those scenes and decide for ourselves whether Etienne belongs with Anna or if Ellie is really such a bitchy character we are made to believe.

That being said, I feel that the minor characters are not developed enough. Not enough Mer, not enough Josh, not enough Ellie. It's just Etienne and Anna in almost every page (and a bit of Rashmi in a very nice proportion, I think, and also Matt, Cherie, Bridge and Toph).

Then the parents. I know Mr. Olliphant (aka James Asher) is not a sympathetic character. I know he's annoying and he makes Anna go to Paris without a choice, and that he doesn't give her enough pocket money and sends threatening emails that only sound mildly so. But what makes Anna categorize him as a bad parent in comparison to Etienne's? If only the scene at Shakespeare & Co shows that the books her father is writing is based on her own family conditions (for example, a sickly mother and a broken home), that makes it a stronger foundation for her to hate him. That would've explained her tears and make more sense that if she's hurting for Etienne's mother, in my opinion. Anna hating on her father for such childish reasons makes her character just a bit whinier.

The plot

Personally, I feel the subplot of Etienne's sick mother is redundant. OK, it creates a reason for both leads to get closer (alas, the bed scene, the puke scene, the confession scene, the day trip scene, and so on).

But the first few chapters of Anna interacting with Etienne make such good scenes and their chemistry crackles enough. Their conversations are filled with warmth and good-natured humor and I think it is enough. I understand that so far Etienne has given so much to Anna and the writer might need to create scenes in which Anna gives back to him, but it just makes the story longer and take turns through the merry go round.

There are so many plots inserted in one book that we can't help but feel that time flies - one whole year is happening in the book. From bullying to school fights to exams to Thanksgiving to Christmas... A sick mother, a Christmas morning gone bad...

That being said, it still makes me turn the pages, hungry for more. That's why I said it's contradictive. I am both happy and frustrated with the extra pages.

The setting

I love the setting. It makes the book seem touristy (with Anna's firsthand experience in Paris as someone who's not familiar with the city) but not overly so (we have Etienne the tour guide to balance it off, and some of Anna's personal trips alone in the city are my favorite).

I also feel it'll make for one great movie. I miss American-British movies. I keep imagining Oliver James as Etienne St. Clair (although James is tall and St. Clair is short).

Overall, a fun read. Brace for a rollercoaster ride - this book has that and a lot more.

Rabu, 03 Oktober 2012

Tidbits on my upcoming novel draft

175 pages. 43 172 words.

Saat ini, itulah yang saya punya. Judulnya masih belum ditentukan, begitu pula tagline-nya. Naskah ini saya mulai sudah cukup lama, awal tahun 2012 atau mungkin sebelumnya, entahlah saya tidak terlalu ingat. Yang pasti, saya memulai ide ini sudah beberapa tahun yang lalu, tentang sepasang sahabat dewasa yang berteman dekat dan berusaha melawan rasa ketertarikan kepada satu sama lain. Tapi, ide itu mengalami puluhan rombakan hingga esensinya berubah jauh dari itu semua.

Saya belum bisa menceritakan detail tentang apa naskah terbaru saya ini, juga kapan akan diterbitkan (jika semua lancar, kemungkinan besar pada semester pertama tahun 2013). Naskah ini merupakan partisipasi saya untuk salah satu proyek Gagas Media; lagi-lagi tentang apa, saya belum bisa bercerita lengkap. Lucunya, saya memang sedang dalam proses memenakan naskah ini ketika ternyata temanya sesuai dengan apa yang diperlukan oleh proyek tersebut :) I consider myself really lucky because of that.

Ini adalah naskah novel dewasa. Seperti biasa, tidak banyak adegan 'benar-benar dewasa' dan eksplisit yang dituliskan, walau sedikit lebih terbuka dibanding apa yang ada di Unforgettable. Dari segi gaya bahasa dan eksperimental bercerita, tidak, naskah ini tidak sejalur dengan Unforgettable, yang jauh berbeda dari tulisan saya selama ini. Kalau bisa dibilang, naskah ini adalah campuran antara gaya menulis saya dalam Refrain dan apa yang ada dalam Unforgettable, disertai bumbu-bumbu dari Ai, Remember When, Truth or Dare, bahkan Unbelievable.

Saya menuliskannya selama 4 bulan (pure writing, with a bit of research), dan hampir 1 bulan untuk mengedit tahap pertama (seperti biasa, mengetik ulang kata demi kata dan mengubah susunan paragraf juga babnya). Kini saya baru saja menyelesaikan editing tahap pertama, dan akan berlanjut ke editing tahap kedua (mengganti susunan sekali lagi jika perlu, memperbaiki specific chapter yang memerlukan perbaikan, dan menambah atau memotong adegan). Fingers crossed agar naskah ini bisa selesai sebelum tenggat waktu (Desember 2012), atau mungkin lebih awal (hopefully this month).

Saya tidak ingin muluk-muluk dalam berkarya. Kadang, ada kangen yang terasa kalau lama nggak menyentuh laptop untuk menulis. Saat menulis, sering ada rasa frustrasi karena tulisan nggak sebaik yang diinginkan. Saat menulis, banyak godaan yang mengganggu, baik tumpukan buku dan film baru, ide baru...

I've been thinking lately, saya tidak punya sesal apa pun terhadap karya-karya saya. Bahwa buku pertama saya gagal di pasaran, kemudian disusul dengan Ai, Refrain, dan novel-novel lain. Tentang karya yang diterbitkan ulang selanjutnya, dan urutan-urutan novel yang diterbitkan. I look back and I see that I've been so blessed and there are no regrets, baik maupun buruk. Saya tidak pernah menyesal telah menuliskan karya-karya itu, dan mereka menjadi bukti nyata kehidupan saya yang bermetamorfosa. Seperti manusia pada umumnya, saya punya momen jatuh bangun, baik buruk. Karya tidak akan selalu disukai semua orang, baik cerca dan pujian akan saya terima. Akan ada momen lemah dalam buku-buku saya, juga poin-poin baik. Akan ada kelebihan, juga kekurangan. Yang saya harap hanyalah, saya dapat terus menulis tentang hal-hal yang saya sukai, dan mengeksplorasi koneksi antar manusia dan hubungan-hubungan yang ada, karena selama ini itulah yang melandasi cerita-cerita saya.

Hari ini saya terinspirasi oleh profil Lois Lowry dalam halaman Goodreadsnya. Panjang, dan bercerita tentang hidupnya. Dia tidak membanggakan karyanya dengan panjang lebar menuliskan urutan bukunya yang sudah terbit, juga penghargaan apa saja yang dia dapatkan (dan saya yakin sudah banyak sekali). Beliau bercerita tentang kehidupannya sebagai anak tengah. Ketika kakaknya seperti ibunya, adik lelakinya seperti ayahnya, dia sering sendirian di rumah dan menghabiskan waktu dengan bacaan dan tulisan. Lalu beliau menikah muda, dan hidup berpindah-pindah, sampai akhirnya melanjutkan sekolah dan mulai menulis. Passion terbesarnya adalah menulis tentang hubungan manusia.

Betapa inspiratif dan betapa rendah hatinya. Di umur yang sudah sangat matang, beliau masih menelurkan karya (Son, seri keempat The Giver yang saya sukai). Beliau tidak membanggakan diri, dan tidak ingin berhenti berkarya.

Suatu hari, saya ingin seperti beliau. Mungkin hanya angan, tapi saya ingin bermimpi sejauh mungkin :)

Senin, 01 Oktober 2012

Cuplikan dari Draf 1: tips membentuk chemistry dan hubungan antar karakter

taken from Gagas Media note dan seri tweets tentang writing yang dishare hari ini di @WinnaEfendi.

Pernah membaca novel di mana chemistry antar karakternya begitu kental dan kuat, sehingga membuat kita gregetan dan ingin terus membaca kisah mereka?

Chemistry alias kecocokan antara karakter adalah salah satu tolak ukur kesuksesan novel, terutama untuk novel bergenre romance. Beberapa contoh hubungan karakter dalam novel yang menurut saya dituliskan dengan baik dan memiliki chemistry kuat adalah Alex Fuentes dan Brittany Ellis dalam Perfect Chemistry, Jo dan Emi dalam Pillow Talk, serta Evan dan Fiona dalam Promises, Promises. Chemistry yang baik akan langsung terasa begitu membaca interaksi di antara karakter dalam novel—either you feel it, or you don’t.

Chemistry tidak hanya dibutuhkan untuk novel dengan tema percintaan. Salah satu rahasia novel sukses ada di balik hubungan yang dinamis antar para karakternya—baik itu hubungan permusuhan (Harry Potter dan Voldemort), keluarga (hubungan empat bersaudari March dalam Little Women), persahabatan (seri Sisterhood karya Ann Brashares), hubungan kerja (The Devil Wears Prada), hubungan dengan binatang peliharaan (Marley and Me), hubungan asmara (Romeo and Juliet), dan masih banyak lagi.

Hubungan antar karakter dapat berupa hubungan inti yang menjadi tulang belakang cerita, atau berupa bagian dari sub-plot yang fungsinya hanya untuk mendukung cerita. Chemistry, emosi, ketegangan dan dinamika dari hubungan inilah yang seringkali membuat pembaca terlibat secara emosional, juga tertarik untuk terus membaca. Karenanya, kita perlu mengeksplorasi hubungan antar karakter. Tapi, bagaimana caranya menciptakan hubungan antar karakter yang dinamis?

Berikan mereka interaksi yang menarik

Hubungan macam apa yang dimiliki karaktermu? Apakah mereka berteman dekat, atau justru sering bertengkar bagai anjing dan kucing setiap kali bertemu? Suguhkan interaksi yang menarik lewat bahasa tubuh dan dialog karakter. Kedua aspek itulah yang membangun chemistry dan menunjukkan hubungan yang terbentuk antar karakter.

Manfaatkan konflik dan ciptakan hubungan yang berkembang

Hubungan yang dinamis berarti hubungan yang penuh intrik, terus berkembang, dan tidak stagnan. Misalnya, hubungan sepasang sejoli semakin kuat setelah diasah oleh berbagai macam masalah, seperti halnya Nabil dan Sarah dalam novel Dongeng Semusim, juga Krisna dan Zahra dalam Rindukarya Sefryana Khairil. Di sinilah kita membutuhkan konflik.

Konflik eksternal, seperti pengkhianatan atau kehilangan seseorang yang berharga, akan mempengaruhi hubungan yang ada. Atau, ciptakan konflik batin yang menyebabkan dilema tersendiri akibat hubungan tersebut, baik dalam bentuk moral, tradisi, kewajiban, pihak ketiga... anything goes.

Anna Karenina sudah bersuami saat ia bertemu dengan belahan jiwanya, sedangkan perceraian pada eranya dianggap aib besar. Sei Matsumoto menyayangi Ai, tapi khawatir rasa cintanya akan merusak persahabatan mereka. Bintang dan Kaila dalam Hujan dan Teduh saling mencintai, tapi cinta sesama jenis sudah jelas sulit diterima oleh masyarakat. Reno dalam Lupakan Palermo sudah memiliki pacar di Indonesia, namun tidak dapat menahan rasa yang timbul setiap kali berhadapan dengan Francesca, gadis yang ditemuinya di Sisilia. Dalam the Devil Wears Prada, karakter utamanya terpaksa mengorbankan kehidupan pribadinya demi pekerjaannya, bahkan harus melepaskan nilai-nilai moral yang dipegang erat jika ia tidak ingin kehilangan pekerjaan tersebut.

Berikan karaktermu dua beban yang sama beratnya. Berikan mereka pilihan. Berikan mereka pengorbanan dan perubahan. Konflik akan membuat hubungan yang ada lebih kuat dan matang.

Gunakan adegan yang menggugah emosi

Kita dapat memainkan emosi pembaca lewat kejadian menyentuh, seperti adegan John dan Jenny Grogan yang mengadakan pemakaman khusus untuk Marley anjing mereka, atau adegan intens, seperti dalam adu kekuatan Harry Potter dan musuh-musuhnya yang bikin penasaran. Ciptakan adegan-adegan yang dapat memperkuat hubungan antar karakter.

Kreasikan hubungan yang unik

Kunci hubungan antar karakter yang kuat terletak pada kemampuan penulis dalam mengolah hubungan tersebut menjadi sesuatu yang unik dan menyentuh. Karenanya, jauhi tipe-tipe hubungan yang standar dan sudah terlalu sering digunakan.

Ciptakan satu titik temu untuk para karakter

Untuk mengembangkan relasi antar karakter yang seru dan nggak klise, coba pikirkan mengapa dan bagaimana relasi itu terbentuk. Saya menghabiskan cukup banyak waktu untuk memikirkan poin ini saat menulis novel Refrain. Bagaimana para karakter utamanya terhubung? Bagaimana mereka bertemu untuk pertama kalinya, dan kejadian apa yang mendekatkan mereka? Mengapa Annalise bisa dekat dengan Nata dan Niki, padahal selama ini dia cenderung menghindari hubungan pertemanan? Relationships are not instant. We have to develop them gradually. Akhirnya, saya menciptakan adegan di mana mereka bertiga dihukum karena membolos pelajaran, akibat menunggu kedatangan ibu Annalise di bandara. Dalam satu adegan ini, saya mencapai dua tujuan—menonjolkan hubungan antara Annalise dan ibunya, juga membawa hubungan ketiga karakter utama ke tahap yang lebih akrab.

Eksplorasi perasaan setiap karakter yang terlibat

Bagaimana perasaan karakter terhadap karakter lain? Opini dan perasaan karakter akan sangat mempengaruhi hubungan mereka. Pada pembukaan novel Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet tidak menyukai Mr. Darcy, bahkan menganggapnya menyebalkan dan sombong. Hal ini membuat hubungan mereka canggung. Dari persepsi awal yang terbentuk, kita dapat memperkenalkan elemen yang mendorong perkembangan cerita, baik itu surprise yang tak disangka (ternyata Mr. Darcy baik hati, tidak seperti perkiraannya), atau sebaliknya (intuisi Elizabeth terbukti karena Mr. Darcy ternyata memang arogan). Hubungan yang dinamis lantas akan terbentuk.

Hubungan antar karakter adalah inti dari cerita. Kenali karaktermu, analisis dan eksplorasi hubungan yang ada. Relationships are complicated. Make them memorable.

Tips Membangun Hubungan Antar Karakter diambil dari DRAF 1 karya Winna Efendi (GagasMedia, 2012)

My Top 5 Games for iPod

I got myself an iPod Touch based on many friends' recommendations on Twitter, since I broke my old Zen MP3 player and my pink Shuffle's storage capacity could not fit all the songs I wanted to play. It turned out to be the correct choice, since the classic iPod is nowhere as fun as the new Touch, which is so sleek and compact it's easy to carry around.

I've been downloading games and apps off iTunes, but my Top 5 game choices go to some I really enjoy playing during my past time and couldn't get enough of even if I try.

1. Snoopy's Street Fair

image courtesy of slidetoplay.com

This one's free when I downloaded it, but it's a large file (over 100MB), which takes a while to load. Playing it is also free, but you can use cash to buy Snoopy coins or dollars, which I did once to get all the players complete as it takes ages to collect the dollars to be able to complete the characters in the fair. The concept is fairly simple, you start a small fair with stalls in Charlie Brown's neighborhood, guided by Patty. Snoopy is around to jump on leaf piles and collect sets from the trading card. These sets are complete if you manage to get certain items that pop out when you collect coins from the stalls.

There are various stalls you can open, from the basic soda can machine to a real neat pinball machine. Some are cheap and easily built within minutes, some takes millions of coins and days to finish building, but of course the proceeds are a lot more. The fun stuffs are the characters, starting from the curly haired Frieda, the sullen Lucy, pretty Emily, geeky and bashful Marcie, weird kid Frankie, tomboy Royanne, and so many more. Charlie Brown will go around saying hi, and each of the characters always has something different to say to him (his sister will tell him off, and Emily will blow Charlie a kiss, for instance, and Lucy will ask for five cents).

It's also fun poking at the kids walking around the neighborhood visiting stalls. We can read their thoughts or have them say hi (or snap at you when you poke them more than 3 times). It's interactive, and it's fun. After reaching 100%, we jump to the next level, with more garden decorations, more stalls, more characters, and upgrades (both character and expansion) available.

Charlie also provides a few wisdom on his own. We also get to decorate his house, his garden, and the lawns in the neighborhood with some funky Woodstock playground tools and gardening tools. I've been playing for over 40 days and so far still on level 20. Four more percent till the next level, and I'll get a new character, Shermy!

2. Fashion Fix

image courtesy of iTunes

OK, this one's a bit shallow because all the character Romi does is get dressed in beautiful clothes and have people judge her for her looks. But it's pure fashion fun just for the sake of it, and a nice styling guide as well as a game just to test how far our fashion IQ goes.

We get 50 levels with different difficulties and occasions for Romi, starting from Modelville, Party Glam, Picnic, Beach, Movie Date, Blind Date, Makeover, Shopping Spree, Audition, etc. We need to follow her conversations with other characters to see how she needs to dress for the occasion, and what each specific event requires her to do and how to dress. We can change her makeup (mascara, lipstick, powder shades and eyeshadow), as well as her outfits (usually the outer, blouse, skirt/dress, shoes and hair style), complete with the accessories (necklace, hats, bags, stockings or socks, scarves). The colors vary from pastel to brights to dark, from plain to floral and stripes.

After having fun choosing the cutest outfit, Romi will then go out and we will get rated. Either the guy will go home early (below 100 scores) or he will notice her and ask her out (above 100 scores). The scores vary according to our ability to mix and match, and color coordinate. Romi can also win fashion shows, score auditions, or be a model.

It's Korean based but I think with an American collaboration, so the fashion is stylish and cute. Just as fun as magazines.

3. Where's My Perry
image courtesy of freeipodapp.com

This one's addicting. It's supposedly based on a cartoon show I never watch. Perry is this grumpy detective animal needing to get across the sewer and get sucked in one of the secret pumps. He's trapped in a glass lab somewhere and we need to make holes so that water can get through and get him pumped out.

The thing is, water can be sucked out by evil machines, or be wasted if we make the wrong waterways. He'll be waiting for ages without water and we lose the game.

Unfortunately, the first level only consists of a few games and it needs further upgrading (and cash, I suppose), to be able to proceed to the next game.

4. Dr. Awesome

image courtesy of ithinkdiff.com

The name sounds corny, and it's a corny game but one that gets my heart thumping because I need to stop patients from getting infected.

The premise is simple: there is a neverending case of patients coming into the hospital, with 3 main infections. All we need to do is eradicate them all by moving the iPod around and creating a smaller space for them to live in. Once we reach 75% and the space gets smaller or the viruses get cut, the patient is cleared off that virus. Do that 3 times and his life is spared. Fail 3 times and he's said to be 'expired'. So far I have a few expired patients, but fortunately as Dr. Awesome, I did manage to save quite a few lives :-)

There are 3 main characters: a real loud male doctor lecturing on Dr. Awesome every time he makes mistakes, a stern and cheerful nurse, a female doctor always sniping about her being better than Awesome.

The viruses also get worse with each patient. There are viruses that blow up little snippets of shots to destroy the antivirus, and there are little spider viruses going along and will be lethal when touched. The antivirus is not supposed to make contact with the virus.

It's fun, and it's free, but it gets you weary after a while.

5. Song Pop
image courtesy of blog.games.com

Now this is a game I usually beat people on. We pick an opponent (whoever's online really, or friends), and battle it out. Guess a song in each genre we choose, based on the first few seconds the song's played. It's tricky if we are unfamiliar with the genre (hip hop for me) or have never heard the song at all (so we take a wild guess). It's fun for people who love music and guessing games.

A score is kept and we can keep unlocking new genres as soon as we complete the first ones. It's free but the game offers new and more levels with payment.

Honorable mentions: I also enjoy Space Angry Birds, NY Nights, and Boss.