Crime fiction is a genre that’s very interesting for me. To go along with the plot and try to solve it along with the detective in the story, that’s fun. I’ve heard Agatha Christie called as the Queen of Crime, and in an earlier review, I’ve agreed with it as well. Her books are very interesting to read, and I’ve reread many and felt that the interest still holds. Of the many detectives she has created, Hercule Poirot is the one I’ve read most. This book marked my first foray into the Miss Marple series.
A few years back, when I was in college, one of the events of our fest was a treasure hunt. Start with the first clue, and then look for the second whose location is revealed by the first, the third from the second and so on till the final one that leads us to the treasure which was a glass vase (and our prize). Imagine if a treasure hunt of such proportions was to be put into motion by a murder, and the end reveals the answers to the mystery of the murder and other questions. It is such a premise that is put across by the novel, The Emperor’s Riddles. Continue reading “Book Review: The Emperor’s Riddles, by Satyarth Nayak”
If there is a genre that I love to read, it is thrillers and mysteries. I can’t get enough of it, and enough of saying it either. A thriller has to do is to keep the attention of the reader. To do that with a small set of characters is difficult enough; to do that with different characters and settings is even more laudable. Indian authors in English are now beginning to embrace this genre as well, evident from a few books that have come in the recent past. This book adds on to that impressive pile and is now one of my favorite books. Continue reading “Book Review: The Avatari, by Raghu Srinivasan”
I think first impressions are quite important. But not all first impressions turn out to be the complete deal. With books, the first impression is the summary, and then the cover. Night Film was a book I took because I loved both these facets of the book when I saw on Goodreads. It was a mixed experience at best. Continue reading “Book Review: Night Film, by Marisha Pessl”
About the author:
Nineteen year old Mehek Bassi is a Computer Science & Engineering student from Ludhiana. Cut off from possible work-spheres like the kitchen and her father’s office, her creative mind took to novel writing and the result was this book, her debut. She is also an ardent blogger.
Impressions from the cover:
Honestly, I can’t tell what genre it is, or what the story might be about from the cover, which is a simple design. I can tell there might be a death by seeing the title font, like the writing on the wall is from blood dripping down etc.
Expectations from the blurb:
A lot of stories that somehow must come together to blend into one cohesive tale. One is a tale of guilt, another of fame and fortune, and a third of a very long wait. Or maybe it is just one with all three. Just to note, the top of the back blurb, with a chain and dripping blood makes for a better cover than the lady sitting in the chair with a glass of rose colored drink.
So, just to give you a gist of the story, we begin in the year 2015 and are taken to the life of Arjun, someone who is in mourning after the loss of his wife Shiya. We are shown that two years prior to that date, Shiya entered a comatose state, and even with family and friends pressuring him remarry, he’s still devoted to Shiya and is feeling guilty that he got her into that state. I like this starting, as it makes us eager to know what had happened two years prior that he feels guilty about. It basically sets the tone for the plot. From 2015, we travel back in time to 2006, the year when Shiya enters a reputed college to study music. Though she is from a rich family, she wishes to be simple and dresses like that. We see Shiya meet Arjun for the first time, and then fight with him for the first time. A friendship begins to form, and slowly, the friendship turns to love after their first kiss, right after Shiya shoots to college fame after winning a singing contest. We are taken through the journey of their love story, from the details of their first time together to some times of insecurity and jealousy, then a return to understanding each other etc. We are shown Shiya’s rise to stardom, and the dirty side to publicizing, a hunger for money and focus on career as well. The other characters slowly begin to come to life as the story progresses. From a romance story, it becomes a killer thriller of sorts and then a tragedy. I’ll leave the details of why and how out, that you can read the book and find out!
What I like in the book is the plot. There are these different stories that come together to create a thread. The book is not heavy on the mind and it would make a good companion for a long travel… took me about 4 to 5 hours to finish it. That quite shows Mehek’s storytelling is strong enough to hold the reader’s attention. Though the story is essentially a love story, it’s not mushy or sickly sweet in its details. If Mehek’s intent was to show that true love is not bound by time, then she succeeds, because another character realizes his true love after waiting for decades. Though there are quite a few characters, the main character is Shiya and most of the attention to detail has been paid to her character. It was very interesting that Shiya, first an introvert and one desiring a simple life becomes so outgoing and career-focused later on. Very contrasting choice. The language is simple and easily understandable.
Well, what I wished was better is the proofreading. There aren’t many typo errors but I still feel this needed editing. The opening is one very long sentence, whereas it should have been one paragraph with three or four sentences. There are places where the typo makes the sentence seem odd or take on a different meaning. The language is such that you can get what Mehek wants to say, but the sentence is framed in such a way that it means something else. For e.g. from the prologue, where she says the protagonist Arjun takes out a briefcase with photographs and memories of his wife Shiya. However, the way it is expressed makes it oddly sound like his wife is buried in it. There are errors like this I find in a few places. Another thing I’d suggest to Mehek for her future novels is to try to keep the suspense till the end. You’ve X was killed and it’s in the papers. Keep the reader hooked to that mystery, rather than showing Y is the killer in the same chapter itself. Another thing I noticed, and I wonder if it’s because of her age, is that though Shiya’s sexy side after fame is portrayed nicely with the attire choice and seduction of Arjun, there is a lack of detail in the passion that follows. Like Arjun, seeing his sexy wife in all that hotness, is ready to pounce. Then the pounce is missing. I like the ending, it’s unusual, but the epilogue needed better handling. Perhaps if it was done in first person, from Arjun’s point of view, the pathos generated would have been much more effective. Since this effectively was Shiya’s life’s story, from her humble beginnings to her rise to fame and then death, a suggestion I feel Mehek could have done perhaps is a first person take. It might have got a wonderful personal touch if Shiya’s story was said by Shiya herself than a third person narrator. The story has promise, but how it is put across, and how the emotions were handled, is direct in description whereas the genre and the situation might call for a little mood-setting.
To conclude, I’ll first thank Mehek for her generosity in sending me a personally autographed copy. She hoped I’d enjoy reading the book, and I did. It was a good plot and it kept me interested in it. Just judging by plot and narration, I’d rate this book high. However, the lack of editing for me is quite a big setback, as is the predictability in the thrill part put across. For a debut, a nice effort. Honestly, I find her to be a good storyteller, because she commands the attention of a reader with the flow in her novel.
Title: Chained – Can You Escape Fate?
Author: Mehek Bassi
Publishers: Notion Press
Price: INR. 200
(May 24th, 2013)