Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review: Destiny by Benjamin Tsung

The front cover, painted by the author's younger brother

 Book info:
  • Title: Destiny
  • Author: Benjamin Tsung
  • Publisher: ALT
  • Country published: Malaysia
  • Release Date: 2009
  • Price (Ringgit Malaysia): RM 29.90 (RM9 at a 70% discount)
  • Pages: 213
  • Format: Paperback
  • Genre: Fiction with hints of historical facts


The synopsis caught my eye as it was on the first page inside the book and not at the back cover of the book itself! I haven't ventured into this sort of story before so I thought, "Hey, why not?". Although, I was lucky enough that the book was not wrapped in plastic, but for buyers who find this book in wrapping, they might not be interested in it at first sight.

Most of the characters are named in Chinese and each have their own meaning. For example, the main character is named "Mei Hua" meaning "Plum Blossom" and another character named "Two Shoes" who's named after his past life story. Each character plays a very important role and each has their own significant impact towards the story. The only drawback I experienced in understanding the characters are mixing up their names from time to time. But this isn't much of a problem for the novel has a "Characters and Locations" page at the start of it, which gave me a quick reminder on who is who. 

Language and literacy:
The author, who is Malaysian and I'm guessing a Chinese, has made this book more interesting by mixing up both English and a pinch of Chinese (Mandarin dialect along with it's English meaning) in his story. By doing so, he spiced up the literacy content of the story and (indirectly) teaches the readers one or two words in Chinese. For a person who strives to learn any and every language on earth, I was delighted to find the bits and pieces of Mandarin and even slangs (Aiyah!) in the chapters. The English used in this story is one that I hope to instill onto myself and my future children. Correct spelling and even sayings are used to the last full stop. I am, sadly, not sure if the original story was in Chinese or otherwise.

Mature content:
It does have a tiny bit of adult content, with one of the characters being a "mistress" (albeit a good one, who is considered a "stepmother" in the rest of the chapters), and the mention of a rape incident as well as selling one's body (jual badan). These, however, do not make the novel a bad influence as these "scenes" ended with teaching the readers moral values on the "adult-ish" subjects. (Simply put, I'm an almost 17 year old girl and this novel does not make me want to slut myself out.)

My Story and Overall rating:
How I came to buying this book is my trip to The Curve's MPH last Saturday, for my early birthday celebration. They were having a sale for old books up to 70% and as a book junkie, how could I've resisted? My hands ran wild, stack from stack, rack to rack, but I couldn't find anything interesting as the pile of books were mostly children, expecting mothers and business people's books. There were a few comics in there as well but from their condition, I could only say they're to be thrown away by the store sooner than later. I kept walking, almost giving up, when my eyes set upon a beautiful cover of a wonderful painting of two birds on a bamboo branch by (I'm guessing) a river. I'm a sucker for all things blue coloured so I picked it up instantly before anyone could snatch it. I stared at the slightly, very slightly, damaged cover for a while, a little confused at the Chinese writing on the cover and at first thought it was another Chinese novel. Then, I opened the first few pages and read the acknowledgements, synopsis and characters page. I fell in love. I was so eager to buy it that I instantly went up to the counter and slapped (exaggerating a bit here) a RM10 to the cashier. I was so happy with the treasure I found, as it was the last of it's kind and I'm not sure if there were other copies lying around.

Today, 17th September 2013, I brought the book to school. Knowing it's the start of school after three weeks of examination, I expected most teachers to not show up or teach. I was right. So I spent most of my time at school today reading the book. I was so into it that I only paused to go to the washroom and took a few bites of food. The book was in my hands all day and by the time I reached home, I was at page 202 of 213. After finishing the novel (yes, that's another book devoured less than 24 hours for me!), I was clogged up in so much emotion. The story instills a strong sense of family bond, the ups and downs and the love of the two main characters, Mei Hua and her father Chin Yi, as well as their family and friends. The author stated in the "Characters" page that the story is entirely fictional but the historical facts are correct and true, thus taking the readers on an inside view on how it used to be back then in China, Vietnam and Taiwan. The story taught me a lot on family, love and financial with sayings and analogies that are slipped into the character's dialogues. The happy moments and sad moments in the story had almost brought me to tears (had I not been in school, I would've cried my eyes off). This book is truly a treasure and makes an excellent gift for both young and old; especially the young for they will learn all sorts of moral values that are needed to face the materialistic world we are living in now.

I would say, for RM9, this book is way better than I expected. I would've definitely regretted not buying it. Now, before I wrote this blog post, I finally decided to search it on the internet and I'm sad to see that no one has made a review on this wonderful piece of art and there was not even a picture of the beautifully illustrated cover. I, again sadly, can't find any information on the author who is, I just found out, a Malaysian!  That fired my spirit on being a to-be novelist more. So, I would like to ask my dear readers, whoever has information on this book (whether it may have been originally Chinese or otherwise) and the inspiring author to maybe comment down below? It would help me (and my building curiosity) a bunch!

To end this review, I'm giving this novel a 4/5! 

Atika, signing off with this saying from the last page of the book:

"Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved." 
-William Jennings Bryan


  1. Hi, do you selling this book? I can't find in any bookstore. Can you help?

    My name is Chloe Chan.

    1. Hi Chloe.

      Sad to say that I am not selling this book, or any book I review. I bought it at an MPH at The Curve. Maybe you can search the bookstore website's or call a personnel to inquire about the book. Hope this helps :)