Fiction

In The Name of God by Ravi Subramanian

In The Name of God by Ravi Subramanian

Imprint: Penguin, India                                                                             Review by Shwetha H S
ISBN: 9780143425731

In The Name of God is Ravi Subramanian’s ninth book out of ten. He is known as the Indian Grisham of banking thrillers. True to his fame, In The Name of God is a thriller, but not completely related to banking, but is related to the treasure on which banks work.

Set in the backdrop of discovery of the hidden treasure under the Anantha Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, In The Name of God has a team of elite jewelers and bankers working on evaluating the value of the treasure. There is also a robbery in Dubai that is linked with the bomb blast in Mumbai and in turn with the temple in Thiruvananthapuram. One by one many characters die. Remaining become suspects until they die. Some of the artifacts among the treasure are under the risk of getting stole. A few get stolen too. Police obviously gets involved. Eventually, everything falls into place and all the interlinked cases gets solved. But how are the cases solved? That is the interesting part. Read the book.

The story is too complicated in the beginning to follow as it has too many characters, but you get to know them, and forget a few too, as the story proceeds. One of the characters, Ranjit Dubey, has nothing to do in the story. Seems to be created only to bring up gold plating machine. He is not even mentioned in the rest of the story. Story paces fast in the last few chapters and does manage to hold your attention. The suspects are great but the end is kind of disappointing to me, left me meh. Most of the events towards the end of the story are made a matter of coincidence for the lack of better alternative plot progress, but is at least logical.

In The Name of God is a one-time read. I don’t even remember half of the happenings in the story, also the characters.

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce is the most boring book I have read in the last three years. I struggled to read. So, heard it on the audio book, but still it was painful. I have no idea why James Joyce wrote this book. Why would anyone be bothered with such a dry story? I couldn’t take it while reading. Therefore not going to relive it by writing a proper review about it.

Just happy that I got this tattered copy of the book free of cost and I didn’t spend a single rupee to read it.

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi

Imprint: Grove Press, New York                                                              Review by Shwetha H S
ISBN: 9780802127358

The debut novel of Akwaeke Emezi i.e. Freshwater deserves all the praise that it has garnered. It is not your PR pumped book. Even if it is, it is not necessary for the readers to like it unless it is well written. I, a reader, like it. In fact, I love it. It had been a long time since I had last read a book that had good narration. Just like the protagonist of the story, you won’t know what is happening, what to feel, what is the right thing to do.

Freshwater revolves around a character called Ada, whose name means precious or an egg of a python. Why python? Because, in Igbo langauge, python is Ala, the mother of Ogbanje, an evil spirit. That is all the background I can give you in this book review. If I talk more, I will give out the whole story. No, I won’t do that. Because I want you to read this book. As you start reading the story, I didn’t understand what is happening, in and around Ada. After an unpleasant incident, Ada starts to behave differently, as if she is not herself. Now, the narrator keeps telling that they are Ogbanje. But I had my doubts. Whether Ada has multiple personality disorder or is possessed by the spirits. The first personality is a pair actually. Next, along with her orgasm comes another personality, a dominant one, called Asughara. This is an extremely sexualised personality that comes into picture whenever Ada is having sex with anyone. But it rapidly and completely takes over Ada, controlling her every action, better than the previous personality pair. Right when I decided that Ada had turned into a sex addict, Saint Vincent came into the picture. Until then, Ada won’t even know this personality is there inside her. Saint Vincent is the not-so-prominent low profile Ogbanje that when gets unleashed, makes Ada a bisexually oriented person, sexually feasting on boys and girls alike. In between this, another pair of Ogbanje just come and go, making Asughara, the first pair and Saint Vincent ensure that Ada goes mad, at least to the outer world. Until the end, I wasn’t sure whether I was reading about multiple personality disorder or actually Ogbanje. But how do they do this? Why do they do this? What happens to Ada? What is her story? What is the Ogbanje? Freshwater is a mesmerizing story that leaves you numb at the same time rushing a pack of emotions through you, still making you feel nothing. Until you reach the end, at least the last few pages, you won’t know what exactly is happening. Don’t worry. I haven’t given up on the story in this review. There is a lot more to Freshwater than just Ogbanje. To make things interesting Yshwa (Jesus) and the Odinani spirits have a few conversations on how to keep Ada alive or kill.

Freshwater is a must must read! You will definitely miss a lot if you are a bibliophile and don’t read Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi. The books is set in many countries, not only Nigeria, native to Odinani. So, even if you can’t relate to terminologies, you can relate to the countries. I, for one, could relate to a lot of things. Author talks about sari, roti, etc., that are found in India too. By the way, the word freshwater is used only once in the whole book, except the title. That is in the end. You get that?

Women Around Us by Hanadi Falki

Women Around Us by Hanadi Falki

ISBN: 9789353213985                                                                      Review by Shwetha H S

            Hanadi Falki is a writer of Indian origin. ‘Women Around Us’ is the first book of the series ‘Life Around Us.’ Through this series, the author is trying to show our societal life that we are not able to relate to because of having our heads constantly in social media. Through ‘Women Around Us’ Falki tells us stories of women who can be anybody we know.

Her Dream talks to you about child marriage and education of girls. No More Please is about body shamming, peer pressure and parental pressure among students. While Not Fair Enough is about our obsession with the fair complexion, Hello Again is about the harassment, both mental and physical, and stalkers. Never Too Late tells you about the husband and wife relationships straining because of the in-laws. It’s Not Love shows the true colours of domestic violence towards women. Stand By Me is the story of motherhood.

Of all the stories, I liked It’s Not Love. I loved the way it started. I thought at least one-story talks about the bad women. It’s not like all women are good and angelic. Yes, of course, other stories have female villains, but those are the secondary characters. So, I had high hopes from this story, but again, in this story too someone else was the villain. Not disappointed, but if author says that she is writing about women around us, I expected all kinds of women; stupid, villainous, intelligent, nerdy, etc. However, some of the female protagonists of a few stories are not your typical ones. So, happy to read them.

Women Around Us is a one-time read. If you are stuck in traffic and want to read to kill time, then go for this book.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Classic, Literary Fiction, Drama, Coming Of Age, Young Adult

Louisa May Alcott is an American writer. She has written poems and short stories that appeared regularly in journals around 1850s. Though she is famous for writing Little Women, she has also authored other books like Flower Fables and Hospital Sketches.

Little Women is the story of four young March girls under the care of their mother Mrs. March for years as their father is away at the war. Margaret March a.k.a. Meg, the eldest at 16, Josephine March a.k.a Jo, second at 15, Elizabeth March a.k.a. Beth, third at 13, and Amy March the last at 12. The family is poor and is only able to look after themselves as much as they can. While Meg and Amy wish they had more money, Jo and Beth are happy with what they have. Mrs. March knows how each of her daughters are, and is close to each of them. The daughters too are close to each other. Due to their good nature, their neighbour Mr. Laurance and his grandson, Laurie, become close to the family. They interact with their grandaunt often at whose place Jo works. Laurie’s tutor, John Brooke, likes the girly Meg. Laurie falls for tomboy Jo. Beth falls sick, which is pretty serious in those ages when medical science had not developed much. Amy becomes an artist. What happens in each girl’s life is what you get to know by reading Little Women.

I first heard of the book on the famous sitcom Friends where Rachel and Joey discuss books. I later got to know it is a classic. When I started reading it, in the beginning I got bored. Maybe it was because I could not relate much to the times of 1840s and 1850s. The initial pages tell you about Marches’ lifestyle. As and when the story moves forward, I started to enjoy it. So much about the sisters bickering with each other and love back all the same. What got me glued to the book and did not let me put it down was the relationship between Jo and Laurie. Louisa May Alcott has described it in detail, with every expression and emotion, that I simply read on. I found myself rooting for them. Amy comes out as a surprise towards the end. Watch out for her!

I can say, the only two classics that I have thoroughly enjoyed are Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Little Women is for everyone, irrespective of age, gender and geographical location.

The Son by Jo Nesbo

The Son by Jo Nesbo

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Thriller, Drama, Fiction
Imprint: Alfred A Knoff, New York
ISBN: 9780385351379

Jo Nesbo is a musician, song writer and economist, as well as writer. His Harry Hole novels include The Redeemer, The Snowman, The Leopard and Phantom, and he is also the author of several stand-alone novels and the Doctor Proctor series of children’s books. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Glass Key for best Nordic crime novel. The Son, known as Sonner in Norwegien, is one of the stand alone works of this multi-talented writer. It was published in 2014.

Sonny Lofthus is happily settled in the prison convicted for the crimes that he didn’t do but is getting drugs as a compensation. He doesn’t have a care for the world, but every prisoner thinks he is divine and goes to him to make a confession whenever they feel burdened by their conscience. When Sonny gets to know that his father was not a mole but was a victim of conspirers, he breaks out of the prison to avenge his father’s death and other meaningless deaths for which he was made scapegoat. In the process, he falls in love with Martha who is caretaker of the drug addicts hostel where he takes refuge. Simon Kefas, a aging but efficient police officer who was Sonny’s father’s partner and friend, starts looking for the son who ends up finally looking for the Twin who heads the mafia in Norway. With government officials conspiring against Sonny and unsure whether Simon is helpful or not, the son forges is way ahead to reach the Twin. How he does and what he does is for you to not just read but to enjoy.

It took me some time to get used to so many characters thrown at me one after other. But they all are well etched and distinct characters that are not just brought in to be props but to move story forward. Reading the novel felt like I was watching a movie. Everything was well described and was catering to my imagination.

The Son by Jo Nesbo is a must read. Don’t miss it.

Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta

Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Fiction, Drama
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854545

Sinjini Sengupta is a poetess, columnist and a short story writer. By profession, she is an actuary. Her debut novel Elixir is based on mental health.

Manisha is an actuary in an MNC. She is married to Amit who is working hard for his startup. Theirs is an arranged marriage with no love, and no understanding from Amit’s end. Manisha feels lonely as her husband doesn’t give her any attention, and whenever she tries to tell him anything, he ignores her. Amit always takes his mother’s side though he knows his wife is right. In his ignorance towards his wife, he doesn’t notice that she is suddenly happy with her life and suddenly screws up at her job for which she was always praised. Her strange behavior catches his attention and bothers him. This even takes them on the verge of divorce. But what is this strange but seemingly normal life of Manisha that is troubling people around her? Read Elixir to get your answer. Or rather rush through it. Why? I will tell you.

As mentioned above, Elixir is a novel about mental health. But reading it will give readers a mental illness. Author has used “you see” so many times that it starts to get on the nerves. Every character talks like that as if there is no difference between one another. The writing or terrible editing has left too many commas for the readers making the narration unreadable. The narration is incorrigible. Even after three chapters can’t understand what Manisha is doing. Maybe that is what the author wants to convey; not let the readers understand the story. So much of description that cannot be understood has killed my imagination and made me turn to Facebook often. The author’s attempted sophisticated description about everything is suffocating. To top it all, Manisha is always wondering whether it will rain today or not. She has a reason, but this wondering is overdone, left me wondering why I am reading it. I understand that Sengupta was describing Manisha’s loneliness. But in that attempt, she makes the reader feel lonely with her book. The experience of reading this book was truly traumatic.

Read Elixir by Sinjini Sengupta if you have nothing better to read. Oops, you can’t read until the last three chapters. Till then, you ought to rush to keep your sanity.

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Crime Thriller, Mystery, Fiction
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854200

Birds of Prey is a debut novel of Archana Sarat, a chartered accountant turned writer. She is also a poetess. Her works have appeared in various magazines and anthologies.

Anton Pinto is a police officer turned tour guide in Goa. His colleague and friend, Rajesh, comes seeking his help in a case of disappearing men. Anton, who had quit his risky job for the sake of his wife and daughter, because he almost died in his last case, reluctantly agrees to help his friend and goes to Mumbai where the new case is filed. All three men, who have disappeared so far, have gone missing in the same way by following an old limping lady. Who the lady is? Nobody knows. When the dead bodies of these three men turn up in a forest area in a sack, case intensifies. At the same time another man goes missing in the same way. Anton goes looking for a common link between all these men. That’s when he comes across Swarna whose peculiar behaviour arouses his curiosity. But is Swarna the culprit or someone else? Why are men missing in the same way? What is the common link between all these men? Will Anton succeed in stopping more men from going missing? You have to read Birds of Prey by Archana Sarat to get your answers.

Apart from few editorial mistakes, Birds of Prey is an outstanding crime thriller by an Indian author. Archana Sarat couldn’t have gotten any better debut than this. The narration is superb. Superb is an understatement. Archana’s vivid narration incites such emotions that sometimes you feel nauseated and sometimes high on adrenaline. I had to go to work, so took about three days to finish this book. But my boyfriend couldn’t resist finishing the book, so took a day off and finished reading Birds of Prey in a day. This book is a definite recommendation. Don’t forget to read it as soon as possible.

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance by Niranjan Navalgund

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Fantasy.
Imprint: Readomania
ISBN: 9789385854156

The Lively Library & Unlikely Romance is an appreciable debut novella by Niranjan Navalgund, an author and a chess player from India.

Nayan, an arbiter in the chess tournaments, is now looking after a library that his father has left behind. It was Nayan’s father’s last wish to reopen the library which was very special for him. Why was it special for his father? Nayan doesn’t know. In absence of humans in the immediate surroundings, the books of the library come to life. They have their own world in which they are equipped with all the counterparts of human world. These books fall in love and get married too. Like humans, they too face curses. And they have their own gods too. Pakshi and Helmine are the cursed divine entities of this lively library. While the books are going about their day-to-day lives, they get to know of an upcoming danger. What is that danger? How did they get to know about it? What will they do to protect themselves from this unknown danger? Read the Lively Library & Unlikely Romance to decode the codes of this book world.

For a novella, The Lively Library & An Unlikely Romance does good with the brief descriptions and scenes. But as a reader, I felt that the concept of this book, though beautiful, got wasted without the elaboration into grandeur. This concept honestly had such potential. A grand fantasy world got shrunk to a tiny segment. The author could have built on each chapter with more details to cater to the imagination of the readers. I am disheartened by the shortness of this life of the lively library. The calculations in between the narration distracts the flow. And the curses could have been explained in detail too. It is such a loss to the readers! Nevertheless, whatever is narrated is enough to give you a peek into the lively library as the book also has illustrations to aid to your imagination.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Zombie romance, Classic retelling
Imprint: Quirk Classics
ISBN: 1594743347

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith is a classic retelling, in a lesser unknow subgenre zombie romance, of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The author has written several books in other lesser known genres. Another of his famous work is Abraham Lincoln: The Vampire Slayer. You can read our reviews of Pride and Prejudice’s graphic novel and illustrated book by clicking on the options.

Seth Grahame-Smith is a smart boy. He didn’t have to write much. All he had to do was include ninja lifestyle descriptions, zombies and a few fights here and there without changing the Goddess Jane Austen’s original. Sorry, Seth actually kills Charlotte Lucas in his version. How and when? It is for you to find out by reading this book.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has been personally gratifying at so many levels to a Pride and Prejudice fan like me. I have three instances where I kind of appreciated Seth for his version. First, there is an instance when Mr. Bennet actually asks Mrs. Bennet to shut up, which I had been wondering why it didn’t happen since the time I first read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Anyway, if Mrs. Bennet shuts up, how will the show go on? So, she gets to be herself. Second, Elizabeth kicks Darcy’s ass for separating Jane and Bingley, and for insulting her family while he professes his love for her during her stay at Mr. Collins and Charlotte’s house. The usually slight rudeness in the original had not gone down well with me. Thirs, Darcy kicking some zombie-asses on the beautiful grounds of Pemberley to help Elizabeth when she single-handedly tries to fight a herd of zombies without any ninja weapon. What an entry to the scene! Absolutely heroic and saving-damsel-in distress kind. Well, it is satiating enough.

Apart from the minor inclusions and modifications to the storyline, rest is same as the original version. Nobody would read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies until they have read the original. So, if the original is good or bad, then the same applies to this version as well. You won’t lose anything by giving this a read.