BOOK REVIEW: Aku Mahu Popular by Ain Maisarah

Assalamualaikum w.b.t.

Semasa saya berada di tingkatan empat saya pernah menyertai Pertandingan Ulasan Novel BLINK dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Alhamdulillah saya menjadi pemenang keseluruhan pilihan juri. Tapi sebenarnya semasa saya menulis ulasan ini saya sudah beberapa tahun tidak membaca novel Ain Maisarah. Jenuh saya terpaksa membelek balik novel-novel.

16 June 2013

In 2008, I came home after living abroad. My fluency in Malay was not as up to par as my peers, so my mother bought some Malay novels for me but I found them uninteresting and hard to interpret. One day, I saw someone reading a novel titled Aku Mahu Popular. The summary looked intriguing, so I decided to buy a copy – the first Malay novel I purchased of my own accord.

The tale took place at a school where the Wannababes, a clique of seven attractive, wealthy and fashionable girls, dominate the student body. Farah, a geeky, unpopular girl felt deeply unsatisfied with her plain life. Her deepest fantasies about being popular influenced her to create ways to achieve popularity with her best friend, Ina.

Farah and Ina took the DIY road in fixing their hair, which resulted in Farah’s burnt curls and Ina’s bright ginger locks. However, the girls did not give up. Farah misused her power as the secretary of the Mathematics Club to conduct mathematics guidance groups with the boys they fancied. They also headed to Petaling Street to get their hands on fake branded items which shocked many students. Because of this, the Wannababes grew furious and sabotaged them. The two parties kept getting revenge on each other in various ways, until Farah and Ina planned the extreme.

They illegally entered a nightclub called The Glitter to snap pictures of the Wannababes dressing and behaving inappropriately. Right after doing so, rumours spread that the police were headed to the club. Farah and Ina panicked, but managed to escape thanks to Ina’s brother, Amir. He was dreadfully cross and made them promise to cover their hair and change their personalities in exchange for keeping the event a secret. He also managed to make the girls sincerely repent by reminding them of Allah SWT, Heaven, and Hell. In the end, Farah and Ina decided to strive for excellence instead of popularity. They both achieved success not only academic success but also spiritual awareness.

I would definitely recommend this novel for teenagers because it teaches that there are more important things in life than being popular. It was also the gateway that brought me to the world of Malay novels and made me fond and proud of our national language. Without this book, I may not have achieved an A for Malay for my UPSR.

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