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Anthology I - The Other Side by Hamidah Gul
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Anthology I - The Other Side

by Hamidah Gul

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Anthology I: The Other Side by Hamidah Gul
Page Count: 121
Release Date: 9 August 2012
Publisher: Lulu (self-published)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you!)

Gul creatively captures the importance of perspective in fiction and in reality because, as we all know: there are two sides to every story... oftentimes, there are even more. It's difficult to sympathize with the enemy, the side we never consider, or the random passersby in a catastrophic incident, but in the balance of things, their stories matter just as much as the main point of view does. In The Other Side, readers delve into the minds of murderers, residents of nature, suicide victims, monsters, aliens, ghosts, both predator and prey, as well as destruction incarnate; the minds of the inanimate and insane that we'd never, ever imagine on our own.

The blurry issue of perception intrigues me greatly, which is why I think Gul hit home with the concept of writing from the ill-exposed "other side." However, there are many areas where this book is lacking, one being the grammar. I can excuse typography errors in a book (even big-house publishers' editors slip past a few misspellings and punctuation mistakes here and there), but poor grammar—especially when it's recurring—docks points overall because it detracts from reading flow as a whole. Gul seems to have trouble distinguishing between the past and present tenses, as well as between active and passive verbs. I expect these writing conventions to be followed in a published work; even if the author's first language is not English, there should have been an editor involved before marketing The Other Side. Overall, it made the voice very stiff and awkward. The anthology itself is very short, with easily manageable short stories, but because of the poor diction, I had some difficulty with it.

Here are my mini reviews for each of the stories in order of which they appear in the collection:

"Come Home With Me": Short and sweet story about soul-stealing spirits, their lure, and their resulting destruction. Chilling, deeply disturbing, and only lasts for a flash before it's over. One of my favorites!

"The Other Side": The human perspective of the apocalypse. Interesting idea, but unnecessarily lengthy and detailed. I had trouble following after the first few pages, but do understand the overall plot thanks to the followup story from a different point of view...

"Mission of Mercy": Fabulous retelling of "The Other Side" but from the aliens' point of view. Raises the perpetually spine-tingling question of what if? and will make readers double-take on the implications of unknown sides of a story. Moving, well-written, and much clearer in structure than the previous story.

"The Best Friend": A brief, surprising, and cheeky piece of flash fiction. I loved the twist in the end, as well as the author's amusing insinuations regarding a man's best friend.

"The Lonely Heart": Rich in language and poignant in message, this story details on a neglected son's unwillingness to hold on and his hardworking mother's misunderstanding of the world. Depressing tone with literary merit.

"Mary Had a Little Lamb": One of the more gruesome, more horrific stories in the collection. Very intense, up to the point where I thought it was rather melodramatic, but it's still an eerie read that teaches you never to forget those you love... because they just might kill you in the end.

"Mother and the Birds": The shortest, but most powerful story in the book that places readers in the minds and hearts of a particular animal of nature. We as humans may not understand nature, but this extended metaphor will tragically demonstrate what it is that sets us apart from it.

"Children of the Mist": Another compelling idea for a story, involving another hypothetical situation that constantly asks what if? We all have wishes, but what if they actually came true? "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it"—this lesson, our protagonists painfully and devastatingly learn.

"The Suicide Case": I didn't really like this one because I don't fully understand it. It has shifting perspectives involving a several deaths and a resonating message about the importance of life, but it just didn't stick with me.

Pros: Fascinating concept regarding perspective play // Straightforward voice // Spine-chilling // Variety of stories // Short, quick reads // Pocket-sized book

Cons: Grammar errors, rather than typos; in desperate need of revision and editing // Some stories difficult to make sense of // Overall awkward in tone

Verdict: The Other Side is a groundbreaking, spellbinding collection of short stories that goes where no book has gone before by probing the darkest recesses of the "other" minds. While I didn't care for the frequent grammatical errors because they made the narrative tone choppy and awkward, the concept is novel, invigorating, and refreshing, so I do recommend you give it a try.

6 hearts: Satisfying for a first read, but I'm not going back. ( )
  stephanieloves | Dec 18, 2012 |
This is the first time I read an anthology, so I don't have any expectation whatsoever in this book, which is good because when you have expectation there is a risk of being disappointed. But fortunately, no disappointment occurred because I find this book quite entertaining.

My favorite story in this book is the Children f the Mist. It is about five people who can't remember their past but when they were reunited after 2 years they remembered everything, their childhood experience, the promised that they made and the reason why they can't remember anything about their past.

The story was really intriguing and mysterious, it made me read faster than my usual reading rate. It was also thought-provoking. I think, if someone asked to choose between my memories and my dreams, I wouldn't know what to answer. I might say neither, because first of all, even if you have a painful or horrible memories, its still is a part of who you are or what you become. I think memories are like treasures of the brain or our identity, without it we are nothing. On the other hand, dreams are also hard to let go, because dreams are the fuel of our existence. It's what drives us to wake up every morning, its the thing that we look forward to, it's what drives us to live. Without it, we have no goal, no purpose.

The stories in this collection are imaginative, a bit insane, and so out of this world(literally). There are a few typos and grammar errors but all in all it was a nice read. I enjoyed it. ( )
  erleen | Sep 20, 2012 |
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