Reviewed by Desiree Willis
Jakarta focuses on the life of an unnamed narrator in a dystopian society where the virus Z-bug has caused nearly the extinction of the human race. Where he resides, his partner Clara holds a strong connection to a glowing stone; which holds powers that allow for the narrator to view past memories. The plot is submerged by threats of violence within the city; the narrator describes the world around him with vivid imagery. The narrator continues switching from past to present perspective, applying concepts he has learned throughout his life. The variety of style and tone is consistent throughout the novel, keeping the reader engaged through each beautifully constructed sentence.
The tone of emptiness and being lost through what feels like the narrator’s stream of consciousness. The lack of quotation marks between the characters’ dialogues makes the memories appear even more distorted. In one section of the story, he recalls his carpenter teacher, who he criticized negatively for his false encouragement of the students’ work in class. He states, “any enthusiasm we encountered, any upbeat individual, we learned to shun as though it was the Z-Bug incarnate.” It suggests that the life you’ve been given has already been decided by you from the implications of society. These concepts become more relevant as people age, at some point they must decide whether they let the world influence their actions or their own.
This notion of false hope and encouraging dreams of without providing proper guidance is the downfall of many young adults. The carpenter teacher exemplifies false hope, by not expressing constructive criticism and not showing proper methods in expanding upon his students’ skills. They don’t elevate to a higher point in their lives, so they’re unwillingly stuck. The students are unaware of this issue and it restricts them from reaching a level of progression that will allow them to exceed beyond what they’ve imagined. They then become a product of their society, not utilized effectively to implement change. This novel is beautifully thought-provoking and constantly has the reader wondering what is going to happen next. This is just some of the many underlying messages within the novel that make aspects of this story truly intriguing.
About Desiree Willis
Desiree Willis is a Bridgewater College Student, who is currently enrolled in her sophomore year of college. She majors in Professional Writing and minors in Computer Science. She resides in Dumfries, VA, and plans to be a Technical Writer.