Such a tricky title this book has. Maryamah Karpov: Mimpi-mimpi Lintang by Andrea Hirata is not actually about anyone named Maryamah Karpov, nor is it really about Lintang. In some ways it is about, like the previous three, reaching our dreams of life, but this fourth book of the Laskar Pelangi Tetralogy is more of a story about dreaming of finding the long-lost love than of a hilarious saga about dreaming of getting higher, better education. This book was first published in 2008 and had been arousing bitter controversy and criticism ever since. After reading it completely, I’d rather take the public’s side.
Written in a darker atmosphere, Hirata sort of puts Ikal in a desperate search of his first and forever love, A Ling. Here, Ikal casts himself as the victim of an unfair love story and is willing to do everything, even the impossible, to find A Ling. He tells us how his mission to find her has been his biggest dream all along, how he has no qualms about walking across Africa and the Europe, sweating over making his own boat, taking a voyage to every island scattered across the Belitong, fighting against some dark, ancient, backward pirates, and mostly, about surrendering his life. I would personally say that the very idea of the love journey being narrated is not that exceptional, for every love story has that same base. However, of course, love story is never made only to end happily ever after. And the book proves it so.
Ever being observant of his cultural surroundings, Hirata keeps his portrayal of characters deep and accurate, especially those of the Malay people in Belitong, to say the least. This book has also a unique plot and an unpredictable end. Fortunately, much to my surprise, Hirata gets his strong narrative back to the top spot, though it doesn’t help the faulty over-the-top story. I must say that this book is just too much to a fault. Some things are just overwhelming that they seem to stray away from the main scope of the story. Some parts even bored me to tears. The only thing which still gripped me tightly while reading it is none other than Hirata’s writing style. Though darker in its atmosphere, Maryamah Karpov is still well-written, smart, and hilarious, so typical of Hirata. He definitely never fails to engage me in his storytelling.
All things considered, I’d say that Maryamah Karpov: Mimpi-mimpi Lintang is an anticlimax of the Laskar Pelangi Tetralogy, although Andrea Hirata himself said that this is not the end. So if you are not Hirata’s fans, you’d rather pass this book on. In my opinion, this is the worst book of the four installments, the most dragging, and the most unnecessary number. If this is really not the end, well, I’ll expect a better thing coming from Andrea Hirata next time.