Author: Bob Ong
Si is Bob Ong’s latest book (as of 2014) and his first that tackles mainly about love. It is interesting to note that the narration is done in reverse (hence you are never in ‘present’ time). The book’s chapter number starts from 72 and ends in 0. The chapter’s number seems to represent the unnamed main character’s age. Consequently, we start from the main character’s twilight years up to the time before his birth.
Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of reading things in reverse since the book can be read both ways – you can start from chapter 72 or you can also start on chapter 0.
Note that Bob Ong never mentioned the name of the main character in the book’s entirety. Hence, the title Si. Clever, but not clever enough since his last name was mentioned via the revelation of his wife’s full name.
As previously mentioned, this is Bob Ong’s first attempt at writing a romantic novel.
And he most definitely did a great job. This is arguably his best book to date. The way he weaved the story of each characters seems so flawless. It is not universally relatable, but you as the reader will feel the emotions, the struggles, the pain of each character.
Si was written in a formal style.
Although Si does start with the usage of modern language, and as we progress through the book it becomes more and more clean and formal; the words seemingly adapt to the novel’s backward order of time and events.
Reading the book would surely make you miss the old Bob Ong – the quirky, funny, and witty Bob Ong whom people loved since ABNKKBSNPLAko?!.
He departed from his old writing style, and showed maturation in terms of writing, proving once again Bob Ong’s versatility as a writer. Don’t be so disappointed, though. There are humorous moments and Bob Ong never failed to inject some jokes at the right moment.
READING THE BOOK FROM FRONT TO BACK
If you are wondering how to read and where to start reading the book, might we suggest doing it from front to back, where chronological events are detailed in reverse. We start from Chapter 72, where the main character is celebrating his birthday – quite possibly his 72nd birthday. From that point, his life is narrated backwards. Some of you might feel off reading in this sequence, but you will get used to it at some point. The events in each chapter are not necessarily coherent nor directly connected with each other.
Understandable since he said that he is only going to tell the significant events of his life.
Reading in this sequence gives us the illusion of not ever being in present time, since as we move forward with the book, the time in the story moves back. You get to see the person’s life in the past, but you’ll never be able to return to his ‘present’ state.
Some readers might get confused with the introduction of characters, since they are often introduced as if we already know them, when in fact we have zero idea of who they are (or were for that matter).
I know I did. But as you deeper with the book, you will soon learn why they are who they are. You would get that now-I-get-why-(s)he’s-like-that feeling, and a sense of guilt for judging the character so hastily without even looking at their past.
And when you do get to know their past, it is now too late to go back to the present. It definitely is a fine and new experience to read in this sequence.
The book started in his old age, and it ends in the time before his birth. We will not be spoiling the ending, but we can assure you that it has been beautifully done.We highly recommend that you start from Chapter 72. You will not regret it, we promise.
READING THE BOOK FROM BACK TO FRONT
There’s no problem if you read the book from the back, starting from Chapter 0. Reading in this sequence is like reading a book conventionally. The book was still a great read, although not as good as when you read it starting from the front. Same story, same setting, same characters. But it is just not the same experience, and not as fulfilling and exciting.
We don’t recommend reading the book in this sequence although you may if you want to.
Destiny. Faith. Soulmates. True love. And any other romantic labels you can think of. Meeting the love of your life, and no force in this world could ever break the love you have for that person. That is the central theme of Si. But that is just the gist of it. It goes deeper than that. The novel does revolve around love, but it’s not just one of those cliché, overly romantic boy-girl love.
It talks about love in all forms – love of God, familial love, selfless love, etc. It also talks about the struggles people face in the name of love such as long-distance relationships, rebound relationships, and tribulations during marriage and many more.
How the book is written is exactly how we meet people in real life. We meet the main character for the very first time, and then we get to know his history as we go along with the book. Just as the same, we meet new people in ‘present’ time, but we only ever learn about their past as we move forward with them. We have no idea if this analogy was Bob Ong’s intention when he first thought about writing Si, but this is the analogy we came up.
And it fits the theme of Si – meeting people, or in this case meeting your supposed true love.
Overall, the book was worth the read. Once you start reading it, you will have a hard time stopping. Although there are some parts of the book that felt like fillers, and some side stories dragged the story a bit. Not a perfect novel, not the most original, but it is creative and well-conceived. Our conviction still stands; this is his best book to date. We recommend people of all ages and belonging in any form of relationship to read this book.
About the Writers and How Do they See Themselves 10 years from Now
Zarr Heinrich Laudit, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
is a 17-year-old student from Pasig City Science High School. He likes reading books on his free time, especially classic ones. However, he aspires to be a mechanical engineer one day. Ten years from now, he hopes to build a family and travel to different places in the Philippines and eventually the world.
Marc Andrei M. Montefalcon, Student – Pasig City Science Highschool
I am 17 years old and I like playing sports and video games. I like to travel especially if there’s food.
I see myself working as a mechanical engineer for a well-known company and saving money while travelling around the world with my one and only 10 years from now.
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