Book ReviewReviews

Unseen Academicals – A Book Review

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Posted By Zyen Hoo

ABOUT DISCWORLD

Eversince I was introduced to the Discworld series by a friend who was a huge fan, I’ve been hooked. I still remember the book that my friend gave me – in fact, I still have it. As I was the editor of the university’s English club newsletter, my friend gave me for my birthday a book entitled The Truth which was about a young man who accidentally became a newspaper editor in Ankh-Morpork, the Discworld’s largest city.

The Discworld is a fantasy world created by Sir Terry Pratchett, and is about a world which is flat and disc-shaped carried on the back of four elephants resting on a turtle swimming through the universe. Of course, when my friend first described the world to me, all I did was stare blankly at him and remembered nothing of the description. It was only after I started reading the Discworld books and have become a huge fan that I remember this description very clearly.

And I must say, having read Sir Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series has completely spoilt my expectations of writers. I love his wit, his writing style, his parodies, and the way he tackles our own world’s issues through the eyes of the Discworld – issues such as prejudice, racism, and even the way we view history. It is because of Sir Terry Pratchett that I am unable to appreciate many other authors.

It is on my life’s kick-the-bucket list that I must own the entire Discworld collection. As of today, he has written 39 books (and counting) and I don’t even own a quarter of that; however I have read almost all the Discworld books, most of them borrowed.

Anyway, enough about Discworld in general.

Discworld by Terry Pratchett

UNSEEN ACADEMICALS

Unseen Academicals was published at the end of 2009, and although I saw the book in the stores then, I didn’t buy it because the hard cover copy (which was all the stores had) cost just under RM100 – and as much as I love Terry Pratchett’s books, I didn’t have that much to blow on the book. Then I found the book in Book Xcess in the latter half of 2010 – a brand new hardcover Unseen Academicals for RM19.90!

Of course without a second thought, I bought it.

UNSEEN LIKEABILITY

I normally finish a book quite quickly, especially if it’s a book I really enjoy and am unable to put it down. However, I can’t quite say the same of Unseen Academicals this time, which is quite unusual for me as a Discworld fan.

Unseen Academicals is about … football. The wizards at Unseen University were required to form a team to play football, otherwise they would lose a bequest; and also because this was a “suggestion” by the city’s tyrant. There were also many side-plots involving kitchen maids Glenda and Juliet, a talented football player Trevor Likely and a goblin called Nutt, with love stories thrown between them.

It seemed so promising, but I must say it took me quite a few months just to complete the novel. I have it by my bedside because I normally read at bedtime; but this time, even when it’s conveniently beside my bed, I couldn’t quite make myself read the book. By the time I managed to force myself to complete the book, I kind of forgot what happened at the beginning because I read that section a while back. I know I could choose not to finish the book, but as a rule I always try to compete reading a book that I have started, especially if I am already more than midway through.

So, why can’t I finish the book? For one, I found it – I’m sorry to say – well, boring. I do like reading about Mustrum Ridcully and Ponder Stibbons because the banter between the two of them have always made me laugh out loud. But this time there was a lot of focus on the new characters and their blossoming love, and somehow I didn’t really care much for them. So even when everything turned out well for them in the end, I wasn’t metaphorically jumping up and cheering, like I’d do when things turned out well for Sam Vimes in Night Watch and Thud; or for Tiffany Aching in Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. I was more of, “Thank god I’ve finished this book.” I’m not sure if I’ll be rereading this book again, because the first experience with this book was already so unpleasant.

I know this “book review” isn’t well-written, but it’s hard to write without giving too much of the plot away. OKOK, the truth is I don’t remember much of the story enough to write a proper review because there was a gap of a few weeks between the time I took to read the last section and the bit before that. By then, I couldn’t remember enough to feel the flow of the story.

Would I recommend this book? No. Even to die-hard Discworld fans. However, if you’re like me, you would still want to keep a copy of the book anyway, just to complete your bucket list.

Rating: 1/5
Recommendation: No (even to die-hard Discworld fans)

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