If Britons have Harry Potter and Americans have Percy Jackson, we Filipinos have Janus Silang. 🙂
The book is about a teenager named Janus, who, along with his friends, is so obsessed with an online game called TALA, or Terra Anima Legion of Anitos, a role playing game developed by three Filipinos. The players create their own characters, known as BAT or the Bayani-Anito-Tandem and should pass each level to continue with the game. The developers made sure that no BAT is alike. For their option of characters they can choose between a Bagani or a Pusong for their Bayani and a Diwata or an Anito for their Anito. It’s a game where players have to kill Filipino folkloric and mythical creatures like the tikbalang, manananggal, berberoka and mambabarang among others to advance to the next level.
The plot begins during a tournament set by a local internet cafe at their place where Janus and five others are vying for a place in a nationwide TALA finals tournament to be held in the capital city of the country. After reaching a certain level, Janus finds himself the only surviving player while all the other players are dead. It’s for Janus to decide whether to speak up or be silent about it. But if he speaks up, who will believe him? The plot thickens as other incidents began happening all around the country and it begins to catch media attention. Gamers just turning into ashes after reaching a certain level. And who is this Joey who wants to discuss the incident that happened that night? Why does he know a lot of things about Janus and his history? Will he trust a stranger? How will a normal teenage boy, whose previous problems only includes how to survive each day at school and home, having her relationship with his crush blossom more and to level up in TALA, survive and deal with this weird things happening around him?
I am not a fan of online games but this book got me hooked from the minute I started it. From the first few chapters, I found myself devouring every chapter until I noticed that it’s already the ending. This is one of the few books that I enjoyed savoring.
The story appears to be complex but the author was able to explain everything without making it be so confusing. The author writes cohesively. I like how the backstory created the subplots then they were all connected to make the major plot without at all being too confusing. I also like the flow and pacing of the story. There was never a dull moment. The pacing was set in a way that the readers won’t stop flippping the pages to know what will happen next until the reader finds himself at the end of the book. The mystery was evenly spread out and the author always has something, one surprise or twist, after another that added spice to the book. The book is written in third person point of view which, I believe,perfectly suits it fine as it allowed the author to give more depth to the main character and the things that’s happening on the book.
Image courtesy of this link.
I myself is not a player of online games and that’s my main concern when I started reading this book, that it will affect how I will enjoy this book. But all those doubts were easily erased as the author made sure that the book won’t be full of terms that would make readers feel intimidated. With just less that 200 pages, this book really gave me a lot.
I enjoyed the world the author created. He was able to perfectly intersperse reality and fantasy. I believe that what helped the book from appearing to be so believable is that it used real people and real places. It’s not hard to connect with the characters who are just like people who you meet everyday and places that really exist. The author created characters that readers can easily connect to. The main character, Janus, is presented as a normal teenager. He has girl problems, school and family issues and has his own share of mischiefs. The development of Janus’ character is gradual and making it easier for readers to understand where he is coming from with all his actions. The readers can easily find themselves to be like any of the characters.
Even though it’s fiction, I can’t help but think that all the things I’m reading are true. I also like how it incorporated Filipino values but not to the point that it’s becoming too preach-y. I believe that the casual storytelling helped making the book easier to read.
And yes, reading this book is like riding a roller coaster. You will feel the sincerity of the writing and it’s not hard to be one with the characters in their situations. Intricate writing, I may say. There are scenes that you’ll feel elated because of just how heartwarming it is and there are scenes that scared the hell out ofme then the scenes that really tore my heart. The twists were perfectly plotted that no one would see it coming. I sometimes had to stop and absorb what I read.
You may think that this book only targets young readers but no, this book transcends ages. The book is written in Filipino and gives a fresh take on Philippine folklore and mythology connected with history. It’s a great way to introduce young readers to the Philippine’s rich culture. You can always find someone in the book that you can connect to.
And in terms of the quality of the book, kudos to the publisher, aside from the impressive cover design, it comes with a great print quality and binding.
Read this people! Read this! This.book.is.intelligently.written!
5 BIG STARS OUT OF 5!
P.S. The ending is a total cliffhanger so better yet have the second book ready before reading this one.
Author: Edgar Calabia Samar
Part of a Series: Yes. Janus Silang #1.
Release Year: 2014
Publisher: Adarna House
No. of Pages: 179 pages
Price: 150.00Php (Bought during the Manila International Book Fair. The regular price of the book is 195.00 Php)