First of, the premise was really a catch Instead of the usual foreign zombies and vampires, a finally read a book about our local creatures Imagining them in a post apocalyptic Philippines is really a treat, and I found that old hermit to be quite a laugh My problem though, is with the plot twist It was very predictable I was not surprised with it at all And as for the problem in the ending, there s a lot of modern ways to avoid it, which annoyed me too But most was the tone the author used, specially when describing the two leading men Too much Twilight in it But heck it was a girl that wrote it, so I guess it was expected.Generally a good read, just seems for the female crowd though Guys beware This is Twilight in the Philippines. Originally posted on my blog It s a little weird, writing this post months after having read the book and having given my copy away, but my personal need to chronicle my reading life is compelling me, so here we go Naermyth by Karen Francisco is a take on post apocalyptic YA that combines the tropes of the genre with uniquely Filipino references In this world, the creatures of mythology suddenly emerge and lay waste to most of civilization In the Philippines, these are the creatures parents used to invoke to strike fear into children s hearts, such as the aswang, sigben, and the manananggal Only pockets of surviving and resisting bands of humanity continue to exist, including a fort in Manila that is protected by the so called Shepherds.The Shepherds venture to the aswang infested territories of Manila to find surviving humans and lead them to relative safety One of the most efficient and competent aswang killers among this ragtag group is a girl that answers to the name Aegis One day, she finds an unconscious man who is about to be attacked by aswangs and saves him, only to find out that this man has absolutely no recollection that the end of the civilization has occurred.So far so good, right I was initially interested in reading this book because of the premise A sustained novel of this genre from a Filipino author has been a long time coming I was ready to experience some intricate worldbuilding, a spunky heroine, and copious amount of Filipino mythology thrown All requisite boxes are checked However, I found no pleasure in reading it because the first person point of view, the dialogue, and the plot twists struck me as utterly unconvincing.The earliest obstacle for me was the use of the 1st person POV We see the world from Aegis s eyes and we are led to believe that her experiences with death and violence has hardened her into a jaded person that keeps her emotions to herself And yet, throughout the novel, she ends up shouting at people and wordvomiting at the slightest provocation The strange connection that she feel with the man with the amnesia named Dorian is alluded to over and over again For someone who keeps her cards so close to the vest, she sure talks a lot.Comparisons with The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins inevitably crop up Mind you, I read the THG series a couple of months after Naermyth, so my dislike doesn t stem from unfair expectations I may have heaped upon Francisco s novel Collins managed to grip my attention from the very first chapter by using punchy language that smartly reveals Katniss s laconic personality and sustaining it for an entire trilogy This is quite a feat considering that FIRST PERSON NARRATIVES ARE HARD An untrustworthy narrator can destroy all the groundwork the writer has done and makes the story topple like a house of cards Naermyth illustrates this quite clearly It s easy to lose the tension because you already know what the most important person in the scene is thinking Making it work requires judicious editing and making sound decisions on what to say and what to leave out Speaking of leaving things out, all the characters are invariably given chewy mouthfuls of exposition to advance the story There are effective ways of conveying the details of a world Philip Pullman s The Golden Compass did this admirably and an inexpertly rendered exposition can destroy the promise of an interesting fantasy universe.These elements may have been easy to overcome in my head if it wasn t for the inclusion of a clumsily handled, overwrought, and entirely unnecessary romantic triangle subplot I get that this is another trope of the YA genre, but every time the action grinds to a halt for the sole purpose of having Aegis, Dorian, or River he s some guy, don t ask talk about their feelings, I wanted to curl up into a ball and never see the sun again And I don t want to spoil the story but let s just say that the fate of the world ends up hanging in the balance unless it is saved by The One.There were interesting and pleasurable elements I like how certain Filipino supertitions are woven into the story and the sort of road trip to Pampanga s diwata controlled territories is easily the most interesting part of the novel If only the characters were given nuance and narrative real estate was freed of certain tired plot points, the obvious amount of work that has gone into the research and worldbuilding would have shone through For me, Naermyth was unconvincing from the get go and never quite managed to make me change my mind. Original post at One More PageI spotted Naermyth by Karen Francisco in Fully Booked by sheer accident I was supposed to get The Giver by Lois Lowry when I felt like ambling over to the Filipiniana section of the store and then I saw the black and orange spine of the book I thought it was just a new local comics or something but when I read the blurb, I was sold Could it be Local dystopian fantasy This I have to read.Naermyth is a word play on the phrase never myth , which is what the people used to describe creatures that caused the apocalypse after they attacked the human race These are creatures from Philippine mythology that we have often watched or heard stories from as children aswang, duwende, kapre, nuno sa punso, diwata , etc that we thought were just that myths However, it turns out they were never myths at all, and they attacked defenseless humans, quickly wiping out civilizations and most of the population The only remaining resistance against these creatures are the National Bureau of Conflict and Transport or the NaBuCAT, informally known as the Shepherds, who find remaining survivors and give them refuge against the Naermyth.The story is set in the Philippines 5 years after the war between human and Naermyth started We meet Athena Aegis Dizon, one of the best Shepherds on their way back to the Ruins after a rescue mission Aegis is one of the best Shepherds in their NaBuCAT branch, but she is also one of the least affectionate and most brash among all of them, an issue that her brothers often tease her with Aegis doesn t mind, because she knows that if she wants to live in the world now, there is no room to be soft On their way back to their headquarters after a particularly bad night with an aswang and a duwende in the morning, Aegis rescues Dorian, a mysterious man who has no memory of the last five years and no knowledge of the Naermyth at all Aegis brings him to the headquarters, and despite her usually brash nature, she finds herself connected to Dorian in ways she could not explain When they find out what Dorian is, Aegis goes against all she believed in as a Shepherd to protect him As Dorian tries to find out about his past, Aegis finds out about hers, and they uncover a conspiracy that could destroy everything they had worked for.I think the best thing about Naermyth is its realistic world building It s often hard to get into dystopian fiction especially if the world is does not feel real, but Karen Francisco managed to create a very believable post apocalyptic Philippines, making the different places in the country come alive as a setting I liked how she used Ruins as a fortress from its bazaar status in the past, and how Makati is Naermyth territory because of how it used to be a swamp It wasn t contained in Manila, too, but in other provinces in the Philippines Baguio is a dead spot for Naermyth because of its altitude, as is Pangasinan being the country s salt center salt was used as a weapon against aswang because it stops them from regenerating , while Capiz is obviously Naermyth headquarters And it didn t stop there, too, because it s not post apocalypse if it doesn t involve the rest of the world, right Other countries were also affected by the uprising of these creatures, but each country has their own kind of Naermyth based on their folklore Norway has dragons, and yes, even the Loch Ness monster is alive With all these elements securely in place, it s easy to believe in the world that Aegis lives in, and I don t get surprised when weirder creatures surface.That being said, however, Naermyth suffers from attempting to cover so much ground in one book Don t get me wrong I liked a good mystery, I liked conspiracies, I liked betrayals in my dystopian fiction However, I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all the events happeningand then, that feeling would be abruptly interrupted with information overload, in the form of a dialogue It seemed like some parts of the book were too much tell rather show, and even the encounter with the bad guy at the end felt telling than showing Also, while I liked Aegis as a heroine, I wasn t sold on her past I felt that it was opened up a little too late If Aegis past was so important in the end, I didn t feel it was stressed too much at the start since most of the focus was on her family and Dorian s past The romantic angle was kind of weak, too, and personally, I could have done without it And if you would allow me to nitpick a bit I was very distracted at how many synonyms of said were used I d like to believe that the characters don t always roar or scream when they re in a normal conversation It is true what they said replacing said a bit too many times in the text is very distracting.I think Naermyth is the first of its kind that is not a graphic novel correct me if I am wrong, though , and I think it s a feat in itself This book is a fulfillment of what some friends and I were wishing for a few months back a fantasy novel written by a Filipino that makes use of the plethora of creatures from our own mythology Despite my slight issue with the plot and the pacing and that little nitpick, I still enjoyed reading Naermyth This is not YA, but I think YA dystopian fantasy fans will like this well enough It s a solid debut, and this book gives me hope that we will see Filipino fantasy books on shelves virtual or not soon It s about time, don t you think Why is this book still not a runaway hit Can t you see how much of a genius Karen Francisco is Well she is Post apocalypse, the Philippines and the rest of the world is under attack by no less than the creatures we branded as Mythical As something that only our yayas and lolas would know about Well, we underestimated them because the Naermyths or the never myths have come out of the shadows and has taken over the world Karen Francisco created a whole new world The whole world isn t just the Philippines, she also gave the readers glimpses on what s happening to the rest of the Earth Dragons dominate Europe, Big foot in Canada and so on The story does not revolve around Metro Manila too The characters move around the Philippines Makati is Naermyth territory because it used to be a swamp, Pangasinan is Naermyth free bacause they produce sea salt there and Capiz is the center of naermyth government ofcourse I also want to commend Karen for doing her research She did not grew up here right but she certainly know what she s talking about She knows the Filipino folklores, everything from the nuno sa punso to the diwatas that lived in the mountains She knows every Naermyth characteristics and capabilities I finished this around ten last night and I was sacred to go out my room P Its that effective but then again, I have always been a coward I also liked that Karen focused on back stories which made the characters real, betrayals, human greed and all that Although I found it a bit boring because there weren t that much action and there were so many information that were given in the form of dialogues The story was very unexpected The true nature of Dorian that I don t like , the appearances of the Diwatas, Mamon who I know even from the start can t be trusted who chooses Mamon as an alias Although her name was a foreshadowing , River who was way too corny but I have grown to love , and basically, everything about this book is unexpected I was glad I read this.BEST THING about this book, its only 250 Php D This is the first novel written in English by a Filipino author that I read from start to finish as far as I could remember I picked the book because of my love for apocalyptic literature and Philippine folklore, but it took me too long to finish it this book is not an easy speedy read This is a promising debut from Karen Francisco I should say because it is rather uncommon among Filipino writers to produce a project that is set in the backdrop of apocalyptic dystopian universe Naermyth is set five years after the war between humans and supernatural creatures broke It follows Athena s codename Aegis point of view Athena is one of the Shepherds, a group of fighters, who slay every supernatural beast and save those who remain alive until she encounters a boy her age called Dorian Little by little, Athena discovers something mystical about Dorian that Dorian himself isn t aware of And what Athena unfolds can potentially put herself in grave danger.The downside of the novel are as follows 1 the book looks like a school textbook or manual because of its size, minimizing its appeal to the readers, although the cover art done by Francisco herself is really catchy 2 The codenames of the Shepherds are confusing 3 The book can be too trivial because Athena explains the background niche weaknesses of every creature featured 4 I spotted quite a few grammatical errors typos, and the writing can be painstaking sometimes maybe because Francisco studies d Law the language can be a hard pill to shallow 5 Pacing and transitions are very terrible, too much words the writer could ve increased the tension and added action fight sequences rather than have the characters relax and play chess 65 pages before the book ends 6 I was expecting too much action scenes for a dystopian literature stuffed with folkloric beings I mean, there are action scenes but not enough to suffice the hype of the story 7 Creatures are all over the place i.e aswangs, batibat, dewende, elves losing the novel s focus 8 And it took too long to get to its focus which is to confront Mamon and to battle Valarao 9 And everything is just about the whiny main character Athena, I m so full of her I think it s too late to discuss the love story element and some character backgrounds toward the end of the book.On the brighter side, what I like about Naermyth is the idea of conspiracy and self interest, that the last of the human beings can push others down for power in the midst of their survival Mamon reminds me of Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter fat and comparable to a poisoned honey.Francisco said in her official facebook page that Naermyth can expand into a quartet but she is not willing to commit to it as of yet, although the sequel has been rud to be out soon Nevertheless, I look forward to book 2 If young Filipino readers have appreciated YA dystopian literature from best selling American authors like Suzanne Collins, Cassandra Claire, and Marie Lu, surely they d consider such stories from local talents. My Book Review as Promise that might Suck because I m watching somethingSo okay I ll just use pros and consPros 1 Some parts are original or rather I first know from it like the Rumpelstiltskin Anomaly etc.2 Okay the filipino lore was cool like the Kapre, dwende, aswang, diwata etc.3 She actually writes decent action scenes which reminds me of how Cassandra Clare would write it.4 The ending was really good and unpredictable though the epilogue was just meh.5 I do love the Macky part but I think there s a typo with how Fey should be spelled because in this one it was spelled as Fay.Cons 1 This reminds me of a lot of things like Mockingjay view spoiler with the Mamon thingy Coin in Mockingjay hide spoiler It was an awesome read It was refreshing for me, since the lore used by the author in this urban fantasy was distinctively of Philippine myths I immediately got hooked on the main heroine of the story Aegis or Athena her real name She kind of reminded me of Katniss in Hunger Games She is badass and can kick ass of many many Naermyths She is ruthless as a shepherd, and even lacking emotion sometimes but war does that to people I like many of the characters in this story like her brothers in arms, Dorian and most especially River there is also the eccentric mad historian Tito Bing he was such a riot The world building in this one is fascinating because of the familiar mythical creatures used and maybe only in the filipino teleserye do I come to appreciate such kind of stories I am happy that this is one author who was brave enough to write this kind of popular genre in the filipino lore context There were still some phrases or perhaps the writing style that don t flow together This was written in English and a handful of filipino phrases were being incorporated I do sense that you cannot read this book in a purely American english intotation in your head though Well at least in my reading experience.But this is an exciting action packed fantasy adventure The twist and turns keeps turning up after every end of a chapter So I have quite a number of WTF and OMGEEE moments in this one as well Since I am also a die hard romantic I am rooting for Athena and River this two need to get together Ano naman kasi etong si Athena super in denial..hehehe The pacing of the story is good I look forward to the sequel of this book since that traitor Sponge Cake named person is still out there She gave Mamon one of my fave snack a bad nameboooo However, its villains like her that also made the story compelling Over all I really dig this one I originally gave this book only two stars, but decided the reader of this review, if used to the usual scale of ambition among Filipino novels, might misunderstand me.You see, I m convinced this book is a milestone for Philippine books, earning it a place in the history of Philippine storytelling And when I give it 2 stars, I do so on a scale that has Orson Scott Card and Ursula leGuin at the 5 star mark Karen Francisco s opus, while in many ways technically flawed, is good enough that to not place it on a scale with the greats would do it a disservice although on such a scale it might not score as highly as it otherwise might Francisco s narrative has ambition, chutzpah, and with some editing, an appeal capable of crossing ethnic or national boundaries Review in progress Need sleep. This is a well crafted piece of work Karen Francisco wrote this book probably based on what she thought would be saleable, as inusobut I think she was also trying to positively influence the taste of the reading public Not to the extent of going doing it ala Syjuco, i.e., making the story hard to read so that it will be seen as a cerebral work, but Francisco did it in a local exporter style She made use of our indigenous materials She used local yet skillful world class craftsmanship And probably while writing, she was dreaming of not only pleasing local young readers in the country but also the international readers by writing in English and not in masang masang Tagalog language.This book belongs to fantasy love story rather horror genre In fact, it failed to scare me bigtime I got the book as a prize for winning Pinoy Henyo in last year s Christmas Party of the Filipinos group here in Goodreads From what I heard while holding the book and grinning ear to ear, this book has all those mythological scary characters that we, as Filipino children, heard when we were young manananggal, tikbalang, kapre, etc If you look at the cover, you would get an impression that this is about those things as there seemed to be a winged animal on top of a dark deserted building The only difference was that those Filipino mythological characters have been associated with rural surroundings so I thought that I knew what the story was all about That was the reason why I postponed reading this for than 6 months Not only I know that this would be another cheap offshoot copycat of Twilight with a Bella like character falling for either a handsome tikbalang or kapre.I was wrong Almost.Well, Francisco knows how to write a good story Written in first person narrative and with consistent and seamless use of point of view, her prose is simple yet this book is hardly a YA She knew a lot about foreign mythologies and tried to blend them to our own Example of this is the derivation of the antagonist name Mamon that everyone would thought to be a sponge cake but Francisco said that the name is a derivative of Mammon, the demon of wealth and greedy pursuit The story can be about mythological macabre characters but the book does not insult your intelligence probably the way I felt reading Suzanne Collin s Mockingjay. Sorry, I just want to drive the point that this, for me, is not a YA This is probably the reason why local fantasy fans are still not buying and reading this book based on what I see here in Goodreads.However, the romance formula of having a love triangel that worked in Twilight with Edward Bella Jacob and The Hunger Games with Peeta Katniss Gale almost made this book formulaic Almost because it seemed to me that Francisco is imaginative than Mayer and Collins by incorporating backstories into the lives of the two gentlemen, Dorian and River who are the two love interests of the female protagonist, Athena a.k.a Aegis The men s backstories are about their true identities who between them is the true Naerymth and Shepherd I will not answer that question so as not to spoil your fun.The milleu is the post apocalyptic Philippines now being ruled by Naermyths relegating the still human survivors called Shepherds into hiding fugitive minorities Imagine the whole EDSA, Paranaque, Baguio, etc all unlit and you are walking at night with all the duendes lurking in the dark watching you pass by.Overall, I enjoyed reading this book Francisco should be given the credit not for using a tested formula but incorporating it with a familiar local milleu and using a lot of her imagination to make it scary and believable, at least for this genre s fans She may be doing this to ride on the bandwagon but with the way she intricately interwoven her characters lives to come up with a credible denounment is something that is rare in the local literary field Her command of English and knowledge in both foreign and local mythologies are something that I also admire I hope there will be local writers who will write novels in English as readable and sensible as Francisco Not necessarily in romantic fantasy genre though. Never Were They Myth In The First PlaceThe World Ended It Was Not Because Of A Comet, Prophecy, Natural Disaster Or Whatever Garbage Foretold On The Internet, But Because Every Myth Ever Written Turned Out To Be An Account Of Historical Fact These Monsters We Ve Read About As Children Waged A War That Lead To The Human Race S Downfall And The Unlucky Who Survived Are Hunted Down Or, Worse, Tortured.In These Dark Times, People Could Only Turn To The Shepherd For Help I Am One Such Shepherd And I Thought My Only Task Was To Protect The Few Humans Who Still Thrived On This Desolate World But When I Rescued Dorian From Dwende Captivity, I Discovered That Not Only Is He The Most Dangerous Thing To Have Around, But He Could Be Our One Hope For Redemption I Now Find Myself Protecting A Born Killer, But In Doing So, I M Turning My Back On Everything Human.