Monday, 29 April 2013

Tantra, Adi

My Review-

Sometime during a chilly winter’s eve I was walking the familiar crowded streets when a book had caught my attention. It was the end of the month and all that I had was 200 bucks in my pocket. Without a second thought I went ahead and wasted it on the book that then appeared like a wonderful, wonderful piece. That evening I went back home and begun on the book. On the first page itself, I sensed it. I sensed that it was a bad buy. I had gambled my money and lost it. That particular night I swore never to lay my hand on a vampire book again. I still am the one who posts sarcastic jokes not just on social networking sites.

Four years later, I broke the promise and decided to review this one. I saw the cover and I yelled to myself, ‘Heck! The cover is tacky!’ But nevertheless I had to at least try to read it before I gave up. So yes, the story begins in NYC where a vampire hunter Anu Agarwal has that one person whom she dearly loved is dead. She resolves to seek revenge and that leads her to New Delhi. What she finds out on landing in India is that this is a land where danger lurks in the air. One does not need to be bit and get his or her blood intoxicated to end up as a dead piece of meat. On the other hand Anu has an aunt who is devoted to get her married or at least into a romantic relationship. But Anu is simply not interested. All that could ever interest her is the mystery of the death of the only person she loved and that secret mantra. Tantra, is Anu, the protagonist’s journey to find the much desired, powerful mantra.

First of all as I already stated, I hate vampires and I hate the blood-sucking. Secondly, the cover is ugly. I mean the black and the blue is a lovely combo but the graphics work ruins it all. The concept though a little clich├ęd is interesting only because the setting is in India. It is unrealistic too provided there is no history that vampires have had in India. Nothing about the literature convinced me on the same to be honest. Anyways but the story had a really fast pace. There were no grammatical errors or should I just say that the author has flawless knowledge in terms of grammar which again is my preliminary concern when trying out a debutante because of the simple fact that the market is flooded with such books with too many typos and horrible grammar.

As a character Anu’s aunt pleases me the most. Her nature is of a typical Indian aunt, irritating and haughty. I love her for she comes as a breath of fresh air amidst the traditional action-packed vampire hullaballoo. I absolutely adore how the author has incorporated tantra and mantra, two of the most powerful weapons of Indian mythology into the foreign concept. The book gives away too much and yet doesn’t elaborate enough when it needs to. I’m afraid that is where it might lose most of its readers. A book, especially when part of a series, has to balance both the suspense and the requisite knowledge. That is the basic essence of it. If you give away too much, no one buys the next book and if you don’t elaborate on the essentials, no one buys the other books in the series either. Either you destroy the series for the readers or you don’t create enough interest. However, this is only the first book in the first series by a debutante author. Nothing is lost if he learns from what mistakes he has made and chooses to correct them in the next installment.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Fire On The Mountain, Anita Desai

My Review-

Nanda Kaul has spent the prime of her life performing the duties of an ideal householder. Those days are now gone. The dusk of her life has arrived and she unlike others intends to spend it in complete solitude. Thereby she chooses to settle in Carignano in Kasauli far away from her children, grand children and the great-grand children. She is an indifferent woman who finds pleasure in the company of pine and cicadas and not amongst fellow humans. One fine day her inner peace is disrupted by a letter. Nanda, who flinched away by the arrival of the postman himself is equally disappointed by the contents of the letter which stated the arrival of her great grand-daughter Raka to spend the summer with her.
Raka, by nature is a reflection of Nanda. Her arrival in no way interferes with Nanda’s lifestyle. And since things don’t go the way Nanda expects them to, she feels drawn to Raka. A part of her wants to know her better for they seem a little too alike to her. She too finds solace in walking the woods and comes back before the sun sets.
Amidst everything so awkward, enters Ila Das, a NGO worker, a chatterbox of a woman coming to visit her friend after long. Her presence because of her nature however is not completely appreciated by both Nanda and Raka who consider her arrival as sheer interference into their lifestyle. She came over to spend the entire day and both Raka and Nanda begin to open up. And one night after Ila is gone, Nanda receives a phone call. And that phone call serves a perfect end to this mesmerizing tale.
As a reader I kept thinking of Nanda and Raka as the protagonists and sidelined Ila more because of her late arrival than because of her overfriendly nature. Of course no one would have thought to the tragic end. I mean I bet Anita Desai would have grinned to herself thinking “you didn’t see that coming, did you?” The initial part of the story of course combines the essence of solitude and womanhood but the end comes as a shocker! I’ve always loved Desai as a story teller. She makes me feel every emotion with her writing. I saw a pride in Nanda when the book began. As I went on, I realised how hollow she felt and how she tried to shield herself from the world. Later I saw Raka doing the same. I saw Nanda connect to Raka on a very soulful level. I saw Ila trying to break the barriers between both of them. And before I knew I had devoured the whole book.
Desai, her work, she leaves me agape, wanting for a little more.

The Child In Me, Ian McEwan

My Review-

Stephens Lewis is a successful writer leading the life of a householder with a three year old daughter Kate and wife, Julia. His life is simple yet joyous until one day Kate gets lost in a supermarket. What follows is the usual search for Kate. However with time the parents begin to realise that Kate is not coming back. Consequently the marriage begins to fall apart and the story begins to investigate the mind of the protagonist, Stephen Lewis and his relationships with his wife, his parents, his friend Drake and his friend’s wife. Soon after the relationship with his wife has begun to corrode, he embarks on frequent journeys to his past when he was a child.
The Child In Time lets loose a world where contrary to the common belief a man too is affected by the happenings around him. It reveals the sensitive facet of male species which quite often is ignored and considered non-existent. His guilt for being responsible for his daughter gets kidnapped and his loosening tie with his wife is quite evident. His memories of a childhood so serene float by and he realizes that he hasn’t lived it enough. His friend Drake on the other hand is living a story in his mind, the one of a carefree kid where he merrily spent his childhood without having a single thought about growing up and taking responsibilities, unlike the childhood he had.
The book emphasizes only on men and how things happening around them go on to affect their psyche. The book doesn’t belong to a particular genre. There is a lot of drama, a little bit of mystery and lots of sensitive thinking that goes into the writing. The language used is subtle and yet shakes you up vigorously from within. It reflects on a man as a whole, demarcating the changes in his life and his from one stage to another. As a kid, Stephens was a happy go lucky; when he grew up to be a man he made sure he was loving and tender towards the love of his life and as a father he wanted to be responsible and adorable; all of which he definitely was. But there was this one step that went wrong and his world turns topsy-turvy.
Over all a very good book in terms of concept, a simple one as a piece of literature and a highly sensitive one on humanitarian and sentimental grounds.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Test Of My Life, Yuvraj Singh



Cricket is the most popular game in the Indian sub-continent. People will do anything to watch every match that India plays. There are thousands of kids across the nation who simultaneously dream of finding a spot in the playing eleven, someday. Each player with his approach at game acquires a special place in the hearts of the audience. The flair of the game is such that you can’t just let it not get to you. A name has been consistently coming up in the cricketing circle as a top performer and when the same personality was diagnosed with cancer, it did have a disturbing effect. Yuvraj Singh then became a whole new person the moment the news leaked. The change was drastic and ‘The Test Of My Life’ is an account of that out-of-control-Punjabi.

The book starts on a very humble note with Yuvi recalling how things began and his realisation of something, somewhere being wrong. Slowly from that level, the book begins to delve deeper into the minds of a cancer patient. From the kickass batsman he descends onto a different level. It begins to deal with the sudden change in psyche. There is a more humane way in which the book begins to connect to the reader.

Who knew that while Yuvi tried to hit the bowlers for runs, he was struggling to breathe? Who knew that the man who was trying his best to win in a simple game will have to fight against cancer next? The book comes across as nothing but sheer inspiration not just to the many who are fighting cancer but also to us who with our packed schedules and busy lives forget to live life. There is nothing I can complain about in this book. The language is simple which I guess is deliberate to reach out to more people. Also the targeted audiences of the book are not avid readers but fans of the game who have been following Yuvraj’s life and his game keenly. The most interesting part of the book would be the last 10-15 pages consisting of photographs of Yuvi’s life as a whole.

In all, a book every cricket fanatic would in his personal collection. Or for that matter a book on every cancer patient’s bedside table giving him the much needed hope and strength.