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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.

Chipless by Kfir Luzzatto

Chipless by Kfir Luzzatto

Review by Shwetha H S

Chipless is a dystopian fiction by Kfir Luzzatto. The story is set in a dystopian society  where people are inserted with a chip at birth. This chip receives the signals transmitted by the people who are controlling this society inside a barricaded town or a city. All the people living inside this society catch the signals through the chip in them which makes them see and hear things that the control group wants them to hear and see. Though the actual situation of this society is such that they have lost all their natural resources and have destroyed nature, but through the chip people are manipulated to think that all is good and natural. But there is a group of rebels who have removed their chips and leave outside the society and can see the reality. The story involves Kal, a scientist with a chip inside him, and Amber, a rebel who has come into the society just to have some fun with the other informants in a cafe. And the story takes off when the police start to randomly interrogate, checking for the infiltrators among the chipped people. When Amber escapes the place suspiciously, Kal notices her and follows her, in turn becoming a suspect. Amber, without any other option, takes him to her rebels who show him what is the reality.

The narration seems like the reasonably fine first draft with all tell and no show leading to passive imagination. From the beginning, everything seems to be falling into place for Kal. He doesn’t face much conflict being a fugitive in a dystopian society. He is plain lucky and doesn’t work much to gain anything. Also, there are loopholes in the plot. For example, after helping Marion, another character, escape from the barn, how did Kal escape from the barn because he was pretending to be her? No explanation given there. As if he ported from inside the barn to outside.

I wouldn’t suggest anyone to read Chipless. Not worth the time.

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.

Pop the Bubble Written and Illustrated by Mary Eakin

Pop the Bubble Written and Illustrated by Mary Eakin

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Chidren’s book
Imprint: Sweet Lemon
ASIN: B01GGMJ57Y

Mary Eakin is a graduate from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. For many years she worked as a graphic designer for companies across the U.S. including Hallmark’s Gift Book division where she designed over a hundred books. She co-wrote the children’s book The Amazing Journey to Grandma’s House with Cheryl Hawkinson. Mary was the designer on several Hallmark Interactive Storybooks, which earned a Dr. Toy award. Recently, Mary moved to Bethesda, Maryland where she continues to design, write and illustrate. The most recent book she illustrated entitled Truly, Madly, Carefully by Molly Wigand is now available at Hallmark stores and online.

Pop the Bubble is a children’s book in which a girl is seen making a bubble and playing with it. The illustrations in the book are good, but nothing much apart from that. If you see it as a parent, there are a thing or two for your child to learn from this book, like numbers from 1 to 3, hand movements, and directions. If you see it is a child, then there is no purpose necessary. When the writer saying blow the bubble or brush away the leaves, the child might just keep doing it on the pages without any changes, in vain.

I would not suggest this book but if you have already bought it, then it is not a total waste.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Children’s Book, Fantasy

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson used the penname Lewis Carroll to write. He was an English writer, mathematician and photographer. After writing Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, he next wrote Through the Looking Glass with Alice as protagonist again.

A young girl called Alice follows a talking rabbit down a hole that leads to a magical land that Alice calls Wonderland. Here she meets weird characters. Mostly they are talking animals and crazy looking and behaving humans. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland comprises of all the events Alice endeavors there.

Lewis Carroll must have been high when he wrote this book. The narration is good for storytelling for kids or picturization; not for reading to self. Alice is always either growing tall or short, talking nonsense. Was there a necessity to write this book? Reading this book is a great agony. ‘As soon as she had made out the proper way of nursing it (which was to twist it up into a sort of knot, and then keep tight hold of its right ear and left foot, so as to prevent its undoing itself), she carried it out into the open air.’ This is how handling a baby of unknown species described in the story. What kind of sick mind would do this? It is only when the Mad Hatter appears, that the story starts to make some sense. By the end of the story, you will sure of one thing: one of the 3 people – Lewis Carroll, Alice and her sister – were high. Or all were high indeed. When you finish the book, if you are my kind of a reader who doesn’t quit a book just because it is boring, you will let out a sigh of relief.

Don’t bother reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.

Domechild by Shiv Ramdas

Domechild by Shiv Ramdas

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Cyberpunk Sci-Fi
ISBN: 9780143332985
Imprint: Inked – Penguin Books, India

Shiv Ramdas is a former media professional who is now completely into writing.

Albert is too emotional for someone who is a resident of the Dome. In his dystopian world, one day when he is going back home after finishing talking to random people on the network, that is what everybody does for work, he takes a route that is forbidden for people of the city. There he finds a child, Theo, gets fatally attacked by her and her friends, saves her from patrolling robots, and rescues her by taking her to his home. Next day, he gets blackmailed by a data management computer. It wants to die, and it wants Albert to file a petition to the governing body to pull its plug. It tells him if he doesn’t do as told, it will inform everyone about him sheltering a fugitive. What does Albert do? He can’t send the girl away as she has no one. If he doesn’t listen to the computer, he dies along with the girl. Read Domechild to know what Albert finally does.

Theo’s anxiety of not living up to people’s expectations is what I could relate to as a reader. Her grandfather, Robert, is the guy whose genius is misused. Albert is the frustrated guy who is fed up of waiting for a Messiah.

Domechild feels more like a dystopian satire than a cyberpunk sci-fi. Narration is not grippy in the beginning for such a genre. Conversations between the characters don’t have emotions in them though present in the words. As a reader, the murder of Castor in the story did not have any effect on me. The story gets intense only after 3/4th of the book is over. That is when you realize the dystopia of the book is not in the far future, but is the current time that we live in. Information is the dope that gives high here. Just like the useful and useless trivia that we find on our Facebook newsfeed. The concept here is about businesses run on pay-per-view income. Here technology has taken over everything. This is a clever dystopia by Shiv Ramdas. The dome here signifies the bubble. Burst the bubble to face the truth kind of situation. The concept of Information Epidemic is simply a marvelous concept. If not for anything else, the book is worth reading for the sake of this Information Epidemic. But in the end, it feels like the author has brought in assumptions of Albert in a hurried manner to bring book one to an end and establish that Albert is clever.

Domechild is not your regular dystopian fiction. You can relate to a lot of things even in the present day. Read it. That’s it.

A Couple of Times by Ajesh Sharma

A Couple of Choices by Ajesh Sharma

Review by Shwetha H S

Genre: Play, Drama
Imprint: Kindle edition
ASIN: B07836YLTW

Ajesh Sharma is an NRI writer residing in Canada. A Couple of Choices is his first play and first published work.

Alex is a writer living in seclusion, somewhere is outskirts of a city that is almost a jungle. Linda, his literary agent, is after him to know why his estranged wife, Phyllis, is visiting him after so many years. Alex is all ready to welcome Phyllis to his home as if she is coming to live with him forever. Even he doesn’t know why she is visiting him. Though Alex is not keen on it, Linda barges into his privacy and insists on meeting Phyllis. Linda wants to know if Phyllis is the inspiration behind the great female characters in Alex’s stories. After the meet and greet, Phyllis tells Alex the reason she is visiting him. Alex is saddened, angered and calm, all at the same time after listening to the reason behind Phyllis’ visit. What is that reason? Read (enact in your mind) A Couple of Choices to know the reason.

A Couple of Choices is a play with dialogues that sound like every day conversations. They are in layman language and not complicated. Moreover, it is about a topic with which most of us are familiar. In a short duration, this play tells you about the bonds that weren’t supposed to happen, weren’t supposed to break, weren’t supposed to renew. All this in an easy flow of dialogues and mannerisms. But I felt the ending was kind of abrupt. On the other hand, I feel the characters just moved on with their lives. Maybe I missed something the author has hinted. All in all, I enjoyed reading it.

Even if you are not into plays, do give A Couple of Choices a read. It is not some random script for a play that doesn’t know where it is taking its audience (or even readers). It is a beautifully scripted play that can teach anybody a thing or two about relationships. Do give A Couple of Choices a read.