Laskar Pelangi doesn’t stop where it does. In fact, it continues to the next installment, revealing the other side of Ikal’s life. Though not as booming as the previous one, namely Laskar Pelangi itself, Andrea Hirata’s 2006 Sang Pemimpi can still attract a wide readership. Packed in a thinner, denser book, it continues to tell about dreams and the essential, hard-and-fast struggle to reach them. Set in Ikal’s early through late teens, its hopeful atmosphere strongly brings you to a wide awake state of mind, getting you out of the sleep of pessimism.
Still told from Ikal’s point of view, the story begins with his high school life together with his two best friends, Arai and Jimbron. He describes, in an as much hilariously pitiful way as Laskar Pelangi, how hard it is to live under extreme poverty with an extreme dream of reaching further, greater education. At some point in their teenage life, they dream of getting their further education in France, where art and knowledge live, and exploring the earth up from the Europe to Africa. In reality, the three of them are merely ordinary students, doubling as under-paid labors living in a poor, isolated small village which has only one high school. Nevertheless, they keep their dreams alive by struggling and striving non stop.
The characters of Ikal, Arai, and Jimbron show no abatement of spirit, which is the very soul of the story. They never cease to hope and believe in miracle and hard work. They show that no matter how hard it is to live under poverty, no matter how harsh the reality is, nothing is impossible as long as they’re eager and willing to do everything in their power to achieve their goal.
The best thing about Sang Pemimpi, to my thinking, is Hirata’s strong consistency in his style of writing: culturally witty, hilariously pitiful, and scientific in the most humorous way. It’s smart, without being smart aleck, yet enjoyable, making you forget its weakness appeared here and there, namely, if I may say, its weak narrative. I have to say that Laskar Pelangi has stronger and more poignant narrative. Though having no flaws in its plot, which is presented still in a recollection way of storytelling, Sang Pemimpi makes you think that you’re merely reading just another popular book. However, Hirata’s laughable ironic sentences keep it enjoyable to read. Sort of making me forgive the author’s inconceivable, sloppy decline in writing.
All in all, I still highly recommend this book to everyone. This book doesn’t only give you hopes, but drives you to get up and start to work on your biggest dream. Regardless of its unbelievably weak narrative, Sang Pemimpi is still a great, inspirational novel with great characters to follow.