Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
on 28 March 2012
Hotel K is just ok to read. There are better books within the genre.
The book recounts stories from the lives of various western prisoners who have been incarcerated in Kerobokan Prison, Bali.
All the usual prison tales of illicit sex and drugs are in here. You'll also be shocked at the level of collusion between guards and cons, the corruption at every level in the Indonesian legal system, and the various injustices visited upon those who aren't wealthy enough to buy their freedom or a shorter sentence. The book also contains the single most disturbing sentence I've ever read in any book ever. I won't spoil it for you though.
Hotel K mentions a variety of high profile prisoners such as the Bali 9, the Bali Bombers and Gordon Ramsay's brother Ronnie.
I found the book to be poorly structured, and riddled with spelling mistakes. At one point I'm sure they refer to Gordon Ramsey, the famous chef. So famous they can't spell his name properly.
Hotel K's chapters are structured around the different aspects of prison life: drug abuse, escapes, riots etc. I feel that it would have been better to tell each prioner's individual story from start to finish, giving a rounded and coherent account of their experience. Instead, the author jumps around within each chapter, telling snippets of each prisoner's experience, relevant to that particular chapter. The result is very disjointed and repetitive; often difficult to follow.
The book is also padded out with news articles which serve no purpose- they tell you what you've already been told. It is almost as if the author felt that they needed to prove that what she had written was true. I suppose thats to be applauded, but I would have preferred an asterisk beside each piece of text to indicate a link to an apendix at the back of the book. I felt that the articles just got in the way of the story.
Overall, read the book to find out what its like to be in prison in Bali. I feel that Hotel K does get the point across but it could have been better executed.
For a much, much better story about foreign prison read Marching Powder by Rusty Young. Thats how its done.