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Subscribe to's newsletter! Book Reviews - Jomblo & Gege Mengejar Cinta by Adhitya Mulya

by Farah 'Fairy' Mahdzan (19 July 2005)

I had seen his wildly colorful books with the comical illustrations grace the shelves of major bookstores in Jakarta. The one entitled Jomblo was especially intriguing - its short but meaningful title invites a nagging curiosity with the promise of unraveling a story of comedic love.

Then, truly out of the blue, via Adhitya Mulya offered to send me his books to read. Before I could digest the unbelievable coincidence of this rising writer and (not to mention) complete stranger wanting to send me his freakin' books FOC, Jomblo, Gege Mengejar Cinta (plus one book by Adhitya's wife - Kok Putusin Gue) promptly arrived at my doorstep.

As my appreciation to Adhit's generosity, I am personally bringing you inside this man’s wacky pages.

Review: Jomblo

Jomblo is the tickling tale of four friends cum engineering students in Bandung who grapple with life's most challenging social status: being jomblo.

(Jomblo is the Indonesian slang word to mean ‘single’ - but if you're going to dwell on the essence of Adhit’s book, it might as well mean 'rapidly degrading social scum.')

The main characters are Agus (geeky and impossibly naive), Bimo (I have him pictured in my head as a troll not unlike the one in the second Harry Potter movie), Olip (a loyal comrade whose body build intimidates the most sullen of bullies – pity the muscle in his head doesn’t function as well sometimes) and last but not least, Doni (a charming playboy with hedonistic tendencies engraved in his DNA makeup).

Armed with these fictitious individuals and an appetite for comedy, author Adhit creatively weaves a comical story of four young college men out to seek the love of their lives. The misadventures they face are nothing short of buffoonish and I found myself cackling in glee in many segments of the book while muttering things like “bodoh, sial” and the most littered expression of exasperation in the book: “Gusti…” (God!). All this while slapping my forehead in disbelief.

On a more sober note, Jomblo perpetuates the simple but overly stereotypical heterosexual law of nature in which men are the chasers and women are the chasees. While boys ogle and drool like the Neanderthals that they are, girls are portrayed with an air of sophistication with a tinge of snobbery. Girls are the determining factor in every potential relationship. In other words, girls get to reject pursuing gents and send them home crying without the burden of feeling guilty. (Oh, aren’t we evil?)

But hey, let’s not get all feministic here. Jomblo’s a light read that’ll send you off with peals of laughter. Adhit’s occasional amusing footnotes are a thing to look out for as they are mind-bogglingly random – they’re funny in this corny sort of way which is now becoming somewhat of a signature style for Adhit.

The one thing I believe you will get out of Jombo is an almost accurate depiction of how the minds of girls and guys work during the courting phases. You wouldn’t be totally wrong to think that this little teen novel can almost pass for an Indonesian Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars…!

Inevitably, there are dashes of Bahasa Sunda in the book - afterall, the story is set in Bandung. Adhit was kind enough to translate these smatterings of Bahasa Sunda for his Sundanese-impaired readers. Either that or suffer spam mail from angry readers who don't know Sundanese I suppose. (Wise move, Adhit.)

Admittedly, I enjoyed Jomblo way far more than I anticipated and actually grew to be fond of the characters in the book. The hilarity in this book is as silly and entertaining as the subtle slapsticks in motion pictures like Leslie Nielsen’s Naked Gun series. It is far from disappointing!

Regrettably, Malaysians who are not accustomed to colloquial Bahasa Indonesia (notably, bahasa gaul) and even the Indonesian sense of humor will find it challenging to read Jomblo without constantly slapping their foreheads and screaming "Gusti!" Even that won't help. (Sorry lah gang, kena kacau Adhit to translate one in either English or BM kalau nak sangat. With your BM, you'll probably take in about 70-80%, which is OK lah.)

Review: Gege Mengejar Cinta (GMC)

In his second book, Adhit toys around with the climax decision of whether one should fall for someone who loves him, or go for someone whom he loves.

GMC tells the story of a young radio producer in his mid-twenties named Gege who decides to pursue his long-lost middle school crush, Caca, whom he discovers working nearby his Jakartan office area. While he rekindles his old friendship with Caca, unbeknownst to Gege is his colleague’s love and devotion for him, Tia, who grows increasingly and insanely jealous of Caca. The love triangle is almost painful to explain.

GMC is set in a more yuppie surrounding and considerably older circle of people, from which I had expected more matured forms of jokes and less slapstick ones. Some parts of GMC were also just too mushy for me to keep a straight face (parts where Gege and Tia silently profess their love for the apple of their eyes).

Tia’s insecurity made my eyes roll around in my head a bit – I thought she was just being overly dramatic with the whole Gege thing. I almost wanted to strangle the poor fake character for making me so annoyed with her whiny self-pitiful.. err, self.

The scene at the end where Gege rushes to the airport to stop Caca from leaving for Singapore was very Ada Apa Dengan Cinta-like. Thankfully Adhit jokingly and unabashedly made an acknowledgement of this in his footnotes – this alone greatly helped to subdue the goose bumps in my arms and further humiliation I might have secretly harbored for Adhit. :-)

Personally I feel that Jomblo was a much better read than GMC in which the first book was more succinct and cleverly worded, and that the jokes were befitting with the atmosphere of being college kids. With GMC however, I just refuse to believe that working adults can be so mentally challenged.

That is not to say Gege Mengejar Cinta is terrible and not read-worthy. Believe me - I had my fair share of guffaws and snorts with this one. Gusti!

Oh, and my new favorite derogatory to scream whenever I get pissed off now is ayam. Ayam!

Bapak Adhitya Mulya, terima kasih for the funny reads!

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