Mythology, and fantasy based on mythological characters are genres that are quite popular in Indian Writing in English of late. Though I’ve read many authors attempting the former, very few have really made an impression. Devdutt Pattanaik has been one. Anuja Chandramouli is another author whose works I have liked reading. She was attempting mythology from usually unseen perspectives, like Arjuna or Kamadeva. I wondered how she’d handle the change from the former to the latter. Yama’s Lieutenant is a fantasy novel, with mythical elements.
Love is something that is beautiful, and something that doesn’t get impeded by any boundaries. Yet society has its own rules of caste, creed, religion that it imposes on love without any consideration. Any breaking of these rules is considered a crime, and unacceptable. Not very often do I think twice before taking a novel to read, but with this one, I had to. Not just because the blurb indicated such a story of love against society imposed traditional boundaries, but because of the title of the story which was very ominous as to where the story was headed.
Books by certain authors automatically find their way into my reading list and stay on my bookshelf after. Lee Child is one such author, and I had been anticipating the release of the latest Jack Reacher book, “Make Me” since the last book “Personal” didn’t quite match my expectations of the series.
The nomadic Reacher arrives at a station seemingly in the middle of nowhere. The only reason why the place appealed to him is the name of the place – “Mother’s Rest”. He wants to know why it was named so. A woman at the station mistakes him for someone else. Reacher assumes that it was her partner, and he is right. He has the chance to walk away from her, but instead, he decides to help her out. He asks around town, not knowing there is danger lurking. And it’s Reacher. Even if danger finds him as it usually does, he’s usually the danger for the danger. The investigations lead the woman, Chang and Reacher to loose ends, ends that can only be tied by the mystery that is – “Mother’s Rest”.
What I love about a good Jack Reacher thriller is that it keeps me guessing till the very end. And this book is no different. Initially, I thought it might just be the mystery of Keever, the man who was missing, but the book traversed to what Keever, a former FBI agent, was trying to solve… to journalists looking for a story and ended in a realm that was quite unexpected. I knew about the existence of such a realm, yes, but I didn’t expect Child to lead the story there. After the plot of the previous book was kind of a flop, this one is back to being one of Lee Child’s best.
I love the character of Jack Reacher. Nomadic, free spirited, uncaring for danger, totally egotistical of his capabilities. This book sees those aspects at their very best. One could even argue that his recklessness heads toward a previously unseen extreme as well. The glass half-full attitude of Chang just matches that sketch well. And Lee Child adds smaller interesting characters like the science journalist Westwood of the LA Times and the client of the missing detective Keever. The bad guys are mostly a mystery in this book, but I think that’s good in a way. There might be too many to name.
The mystery of Mother’s Rest and the missing Keever manages to hold my attention from start to finish with ease. A friend, who had read the book before me, spoke of something brewing, something that startled her a lot. I think that that helped to increase the curiosity factor as well, but when it comes to Jack Reacher, that would be there automatically. I could feel that “brewing” too. As I said before, the existence of the realm was known, so it didn’t startle me as it did the friend, but it made me wish that those who keep that realm active would be stopped.
If “Personal” lacked the Reacher treatment, this book makes up for that in no small amount. I can only hope that Lee Child decides to write more than just a book each year. Till the next one comes, I guess I will have to re-read the books once in a while.
|Title: Make Me||Series: Jack Reacher #20|
|Author(s): Lee Child||Genre: Thriller|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9780857502896||Publisher: Bantam / RHI|
(© 23rd October 2015)
To take a sensitive issue and write a wonderful story on it is not easy. Tania James has taken the illegal ivory trade as the issue and produced this story, The Tusk That Did the Damage. The novel, unique in its subject, is also unique in that it tells the story from three different viewpoints, and leaving the reader (me) thinking that all three make sense.
The Gravedigger’s (elephant’s) point of view is best for it gives voice to the animal. We don’t think of that. From the moment that Gravedigger witnesses the poaching of his tribe, not just for the tusks but the tail too, the sections from this point of view are done well. The poacher and his family, that point of view comes next best. The emotions and the background story of the poacher are vivid, and interesting. And in these two sections, the story moves quickly, and strongly. I could see the story headed somewhere. Unfortunately, the filmmaker’s part doesn’t have as strong an appeal as the other two. Right from the first chapter that talks of the path through the ghats, it didn’t hold my interest as easily. It made me wonder if the author could have left it out, and alternated between poacher and the poached.
The novel is one that I’ll re-read again at leisure, for it is one of a kind and carrying with it, a lesson.
|Title: The Tusk That Did the Damage|
|Author(s): Tania James||Genre: Fiction|
Vintage Books / Random House India
|No. of Pages: 240||Price: INR. 499|
(© 23rd April 2015)
When I was asked if I’d be interested to share my thoughts on this book, I had hesitated a bit. Romance/chick-lit genre is not one that I’m particularly fond of. But the blurb, and the recommendation of a friend who is as crazy about books as I am, convinced me that it might be worth it. And I think it was, because it had an element of believability to it.
Fade into Red is the story of Arya, who loves art history, but like most of us, she ends up pursuing a field that’s more career oriented – investment banking. She tries to manage her career and family life while also maintaining a long distance relationship. When things look to be on track with the latter two, the career throws a spanner into the works and sends her off on a trip to Tuscany. The trip, initially thought to be a short one, ends up giving more problems than she expects. The rest of the book deals with how she manages and gets past those problems.
The story works for me because if you don’t give the character a name, it can be the story of many – a story of sacrificing the things that matter for a career, one that pays in cash than joys and peace of mind. Reshma’s narration style is simple, engaging for the most part, sometimes humorous and holds the reader to a plot that is just as simple. It’s that narration which brings to life, not only the story but also the setting. While most of the characters are interesting, I felt Arya stood out more than the rest by a long way, and especially with her strength to survive what’s thrown at her.
The book is not unpredictable, and I knew where it was headed. At times, the narration jars. I don’t know why, but I didn’t like Kartik, the boyfriend very much or Ishaan, the third dude for that matter. Though their fights and or altercations felt believable, it just didn’t work for me. The parts where there is business talk, that felt uninteresting and slow, even with the setting.
This is a light read, it has more to it than just romance, but it will be best enjoyed by a reader who loves to read romance books.
|Title: Fade into Red|
|Author(s): Reshma K. Barshikar||Genre: Fiction|
|ISBN/ASIN: 9788184005547||Publisher: Random House India|
|No. of Pages: 363||Price: Rs. 399|
(7th January 2015)
I think the most interesting aspect of humanity is relationships. Friends, siblings, lovers… whatever it may be. Some books bring that aspect of life to life and explore it very well. One such book is The Fifth Man by Bani Basu. It revolves around Ari, who is Neelam’s husband. Neelam’s hysterectomy changes their relationship between her and Ari. Fate conspires to bring the duo, their college professor Mahanam and Ari’s ex-girlfriend Esha together, testing their relationship even further.
The book came by my shelf quite unexpectedly. The book, translated into English by Arunava Sinha, is a beautifully woven tale. It explores not only the relationships, but the emotions that come along with the decisions they make. It didn’t read like a translation, which helps it a lot. I liked the character sketching too, and the cover design which felt simple but still mysterious. The book, on a genre level, didn’t appeal to me much, and after a while, it felt heavy to me. But I don’t think it is a bad book at all.
There are some books that become better with a second or third read. I feel this book may be one in that category for me. It is definitely interesting, but I don’t quite know if it is very engaging.
Title: The Fifth Man
Author: Bani Basu
Translator: Arunava Sinha
Publisher: Random House India
Price: INR 299
(28th December 2014)