Controversial title aside, this is my first official book review so do bear with me. It is kinda ironic for me to have this book for my first review as I rarely find enjoyment in reading Malay fiction novels(romance in particular). Although I did finish the book today, it wasn’t mine originally. A friend came by this morning to borrow my laptop and she had brought the book with her. I was bored and with my almost brain-dead post exam self, I thought it would be a decent book to pass the time. So without further ado~ here we go ヾ（〃＾∇＾）ﾉ♪
W A R N I N G: THIS IS NOT A SPOILER FREE REVIEW
A note for my non-Malay speaking readers, Suamiku literally translates to ‘My husband’ and Dajjal is a sort of entity that Muslims believes as the false Messiah that will come to create havoc(by deceiving humanity) before the end of the world. You can also see it as the ‘anti-christ’ in Islam. Of course, the word Dajjal is a metaphor in this case, emphasizing on the main female character’s “evil” husband.
Synopsis(taken from FB):
Sebuah novel yang mengisahkan tentang seorang perempuan yang bernama Safia, yang terlalu inginkan pasangannya seorang ustaz. Hal ini kerana dia terlalu banyak tengok drama-drama dan baca lambakan novel jiwang yang mengisahkan tentang cinta lalu dia pun keawang-awangan untuk ada jalan cerita yang sama.
Tetapi, takdir tetap takdir dan ianya tetap akan hadir. Ditakdirkan dia bernikah dengan seorang lelaki yang berkopiah dan tidak pernah lepas kopiah selama dia kenal dengan lelaki itu 2 bulan lepas. Dia expect perfection daripada lelaki itu.
Rupa-rupanya; si kopiah itu ada masa silam yang sangat teruk sehinggakan bila Safia tahu tentangnya, dia kata; “KAU DAJJAL! KAU JANGAN HADIR DALAM HIDUP AKU LAGI!”
Adam; dia tahu dia Adam yang ada banyak jahiliah. Kerana apa yang Safia baru terima daripada whatsapp yang entah daripada siapa itu hanyalah 1 per 100000 dosa & jahiliah yang dia pernah buat. Isterinya terus marah dan mahu lari dari rumah.
Adam tenang, tidak mahu emosi. Adam teruskan bacaan Quran. Dia sedang membaca surah Furqan dengan tartil. Kebetulan, Adam singgah bacaan di muka surat terakhir surah itu. Dalam surah Furqan, ada 3 dosa yang ditekankan pada muka surat terakhir; dosa syirik, membunuh & berzina.
Beberapa air matanya jatuh setitis demi setitis atas lembaran Quran yang mulia itu. Berdegup kencang jantungnya seiring dengan denyutan penyesalan & taubatnya.
Bila dia tengah lihat isteri yang baru dinikahinya itu sungguh-sungguh mahu tinggalkannya, packing barang mahu keluar rumah, makin dia teresak-esak menangis kerana isterinya tidak tahu lagi 3 serangkai dosa yang telah dia lakukan dahulu. Kalau baru tahu dosa yang bagi dia kecik dan simple itu pun respond sebegini, kalau tahu yang lain entah macam mana.
Tetapi dia tahu, dia sudah cuba berhijrah tinggal jahiliah tetapi tidak boleh dengan sekali taubat terus jadi malaikat. Dan lagi sakit bila orang masih judge dirinya yang dulu. Apatah lagi yang judge & tak percaya dia itu isterinya yang dia cinta.
— Sinopsis #SuamikuDajjal —
Short translation in English: The story tells a girl named Safia, whom was an avid reader of romance novels with teenage-like obsession to Asian dramas to the point she fantasizes about marrying a pious man that will give her the happy ending she wants. She got what she wanted and married Adam whom seemed like a religious guy from his demeanor to his clothes. However, this guy had seriously bad past(author’s claim) which he hid from his new wife. Two weeks after their marriage, someone sent Safia a couple of pictures from Adam’s past and she flipped. In short- her impression of him being perfect immediately turned to a hypocritical liar that should live in hell. After that she immediately stormed out of Adam’s life. Adam cried and thought that if his wife couldn’t accept him when she only found out a little bit of his “evil” past, how could she ever look at him if she knew the whole story. But he knew, he was a changed man despite not being perfect. Even if the whole world calls him ‘Dajjal’, he will still choose to do good to God(repent).
To be perfectly honest, the story is heavily filled with cliche plot moments. They both pretty much fell in love at first sight. And it’s not even because of their personality/smile/etc but because of how handsome or beautiful they looked. In the beginning of the novel, Safia was obsessed with an online persona called Encik Kopiah(he gained a following on social media and answer religious types of questions for those seeking for it). She wanted to find out his identity so she could woo him as he was deemed pious in her eyes. She met Adam at the book fair where Encik Kopiah(EK) sold his latest religious book. So yeah- the whole plot twist of the story is that Adam is the same person as Encik Kopiah. So the man she called ‘Dajjal’ was also the man she had respected so much for his ‘religious values and knowledge’. It wasn’t so much as a plot twist since it was obvious from moment EK was introduced in the story. The climax of the story was Safia who wanted Adam to divorce her because she believed(she got ‘evidence’ from some random stranger that texted her) that he had committed fornication in the past.
Guess what happens next- She somehow finds the most important thing she should do at that moment of ‘crisis’ is to message her favourite online persona EK and they pretty much ended up flirting with each other. To the point EK said he will make Safia as his wife. Now at this point there’s way too many inconsistencies in Safia’s character(which I will discuss more under Character). She finds her own husband disgusting at the thought of him doing intimate things with someone that isn’t his wife but she herself, is making herself available to a guy she never even met or seen his face before. In short, the romance plot between Safia and Adam is like eating unseasoned meat. Cliche, unrealistic and made no sense more often than not.
Okay, I have mixed feelings about this one. Adam’s characterisation was good for the most part but Safia…she was flatter than a cardboard.
Adam- A big chunk of the book is dedicated to Adam’s inner demon struggle and how the past continues to haunt him, which is where he gets his nightmares from. When he was nothing, he was weak. Even when he was EK(thousands of media social follower, bookseller etc.) he knew he was still weak. The difference was he wanted to do good and live a life God would approve. We could see his hesitation to kill someone for money. He only agreed to it at the thought of saving his mother’s life. But in the end, his conscience won and he ended up saving the person instead. Later on, he still needed that money to cover his mother’s medical cost and his ‘friend’ from school called him up and asked if he was willing to be an escort. At this point I was laughing my kidneys out. I mean I’m used to reading girls being an escort for the sake of money but Adam(whom came from a religious school, naive as heck sort of person) doing that sort of job?
Surely enough, the rich elderly woman that wanted him was a pervert at its finest. This is where she had Adam taking of his clothes for a selfie(random much?). During this time his sick mother had sent him a text, asking if he had time to talk. Distracted by his not-so-glamorous job, he had to reply later as his sugar mummy didn’t like interruptions. Little did he knew that was his mother’s last attempt to speak with his beloved son before leaving her last breath on Earth. This was Adam’s turning point. A series of heart wrenching texts from his mother and at the very end she wished that her son would become a filial and pious son so they could meet again in heaven later. Despite Adam’s great attempts to be a better person, he still feels insecure or feel that what he is doing will never be enough to erase his past.
This is why I quite enjoyed reading Adam’s character development. Of course, the way the author portrays Adam isn’t perfect. I approved of his inner demons but his interactions with Safia in particular hardly made sense with his character. The author had the opportunity to use Adam’s inner conflict to be the main conflict of their relationship but it was brushed off and only used as a tying up measure(as written, Adam only told his wife the full story of his past post-climax- this doesn’t give any impact to the readers). Oh and have I mention how he broke down when Safia left him? Wanna guess how long they had gotten married for?
Two. Weeks. And there’s a whole chapter dedicated to Adam crying and bawling about not seeing his wife asking if he would like a drink or that there’s nobody in bed beside him anymore. The amount of exaggeration in this novel…..I can’t even say it.
Safia- Now…where should I even begin. First of all, I would like to say that I do understand Safia’s character was meant to be a representation of a certain faction in this generation of youths. The author even mentioned in the beginning that this book is especially written for those that wish for a fairy tale love just like in Asian drama/novels.
H O W E V E R
To write a good character, you must remember that there’s a good reason why stereotypes are frowned upon. Safia was written in away of the author’s impression of young females today are if they were to like read/watch those novels and drama. Every chapter that is from Safia’s POV, the author never fails to describe how heavenly obsessed she is with romance novels. He wrote her as someone that wanted to perfect religious guy but at the same time she kept on flirting with those that seemed like ‘pious’ in her eyes. The first example, when she knew that EK will only reply to religious questions, so she had a plan where she would think of the best kind of those type of questions just so she could “message” him. She even asked if she could personally messaged him on FB! Now this wouldn’t have mattered in a normal situation but the author also kept on mentioning how she wanted the most religious guy(someone who wouldn’t try to talk personal things to a girl that isn’t his wife etc.) to marry her. That’s strike one. Author had wrote her as someone hypocritical. It didn’t end there. When she went to the book fair alone because her brother had ditched her, she was catcalled by a couple of boys younger than her. She was angry and thought how shameful it is for boys these days with no manners + religious-like behaviour. And guess what she did next? She met Adam the same day and when they both saw each other, they were at awe because of (looks). Adam immediately looked down as it is frowned upon God for men to look at women that aren’t their wife/family. However, Safia being the pervert that she is, kept on trying to make eye contact with Adam, who was obviously uncomfortable with her doing so. She wanted to see Adam’s “handsome” face. Strike two. Hypocrite character once again. The third strike was stated in plot* where she flirted with a man while being married to another(it doesn’t matter if they were the same as she didn’t know)
Bear in mind that during this whole time, the author tries to portray her as someone ‘intelligent’- she could further her studies as a medical student and so on. Hence comes the third strike. Safia’s IQ and common sense is equivalent to the amount of fingers you currently have. When you get a text from an anonymous person, saying all kinds of bad things about your husband of two weeks. What would someone with common sense do? Of course, they would confront that said person and get the truth out of them. But you…you need to understand. Safia was written as if she had zero common sense. The first thing she did was slammed things like a monkey without his banana and screamed her way to her husband. She immediately jumped to conclusion that her husband slept around with other women without thinking obvious questions such as:
- How did this person get my number?
- Is this picture really my husband?
- What is the objective of that person sending it?
- Why now? Why not before marriage?
- And so on and so forth.
And of course, if you’re going to marry someone you barely met- Why didn’t you ask if he had anything to hide? Or standard interview question: What are your flaws? Nobody is going to kill anybody for stating their past mistakes. For gods sake, the so called climax was what I would call HAMBAR(lame).
Well I still gave her the benefit of doubt- perhaps it was an emotional thing. She could think straight afterwards. And even when the author pretty much threw big headlines sign to Safia that it was just a lie to make Adam suffer, Safia ignores it. The thing is, the author wants us to see how Safia regrets her stupidity but it’s the author’s incapability that shows. The author wants the readers, particularly women(for Safia’s characterization) that it is bad to judge people or to make assumptions so on and so forth. But he forgets one important thing. If you wish to write something that will lead to people changing their habit(bad to good etc.), you gotta write relatable characters. This means that Safia needs to be someone that is just like us(like Adam vs inner self for example). Rather than a flat, stereotypical character that nobody likes and enjoys reading, someone that is more three dimensional could have made the whole story better for readers to appreciate the true meaning of the book.
They get a double thumbs up from me for using light weight paper. Also, the cover is beautifully illustrated. One thing I didn’t like was the lack of synopsis at the back of the book. It has become a habit of mine to dump any books without a written synopsis as they were far riskier to buy than those with it. The price too, was reasonable(though it was my friend that bought it).
The concept was good but it could have been executed better. Characters are what makes fiction books come alive and so while I liked Adam’s journey, Safia was a horror cringefest. If the author had expanded more on Adam’s past rather than trying- and failing horribly at his attempt at romance(with his point for tarbiah/dakwah completely lackluster due to badly written female character). All in all, if you could get past through the unrealistic portrayal of a “romance novel addict” where the lead girl written as if she has no intelligence but only marriage in mind, you’ll probably enjoy this book.
Overall rating: 6/10 (Readable- the true message(dakwah) meant for it are probably lost somewhere in the created cringefest)