Posts Tagged ‘book review’


When I first saw this book at the store, I was hesitant to buy it. Because I had this (god knows from where) idea that Amitav Ghosh is one of those prolific, eltistic writers. And also, because I thought his writings wouldn’t have a ‘story’. After The Calcutta Chromosome, I probably will pick another of his books sometime.

The tagline – A novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery sets the genre for this. A chaotic (yet interestingly good) mix of science fiction with supernatural and medieval components and medical history. So this book, is set in the future, the present and the past, and is done so in a wonderfully connected way. But, in the beginning, I did find the jumping of timelines very confusing. And I had to go back a couple of pages to link things in my head. What’s brilliant is that he manages to put out ‘clues’ to what the book is about, right from the very beginning, but you never catch it because – hey! It’s the beginning! I guess, when you read the second time, it’ll all dawn upon you.

I like that he didn’t go into this detail-ridden future, which makes it a lot more believable. The cult of people with advanced scientific ability and the whole ‘switching’ phenomenon is, although very strange, pretty well written. My main quip about this is that Ghosh tries to creatively hide details and sometimes, frustrates me. But his writing and the vocabulary are brilliant. They not only sound good, but describe the temperament and scene very well.

As for one of the MCs, Murugan, he seemed to be flaky, in the sense, his character seemed to wobble here and there.

True, it’s written beautifully, but I would say that it didn’t captivate me altogether. It was like it reached a high-point on  a bell curve and then fell sort of flat. It’s interesting yes, good, maybe. One of those books you love/hate, over time. The concept of transmigration is very interesting. Makes one wonder.

I would recommend it, only if you’d like something different, fast, yet it falls short. Don’t read with high expectations and you might like it. (Which is probably why I enjoyed it).
Rating : 3/5

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Well, of course I love Looking for Alaska- it’s a John Green novel that deals with existentialism, the teenage experience and exactly why we continue to trudge through life even though ultimately, there is no beating it. In fact the only real question is which of the above factors I’m most suckered by!
It is this  quality of the story- it’s being replete with moments that are recognizably true– that makes it so endlessly fascinating. There is also that quick, unexexpected humour that is uniquely John Green’s that peppers the book and makes you realize simultaneously that this could so easily have been your story and that you could never have quite thought up that turn of phrase.

During my very cursory review of the book’s cover ( I really couldn’t wait to plunge in!), I noticed a comparison to the Catcher in the Rye (which, as you can guess, made me want to really stop looking at the damn cover and READITALREADY!). I see elements of similarity, thematically, but the lead characters and their specific grievances are  different, and the writing styles are nothing alike.* Also, while Salinger does not seem to welcome too much probing of his work,(In his dedication: “If there is an amateur reader still left in the world–or anybody who just reads and runs–I ask him or her, with untellable affection and gratitude…”), I can tell that this book is clearly drawn from John (who is one half of the Youtube sensation Vlogbrothers)’s own past and he seems to appreciate the extent to which an author’s experiences colours his choices for subject matter. Authorial influence is not always so apparent in books and lots of people seem to look upon this picking apart of books to get at the author’s own driving beliefs with distaste, but I really enjoyed drawing conclusions from this book and also having them coincide with what I know of the author from his videos.

As for the story itself, it revolves around young teenage misfit and collector of famous last words, Miles ‘Pudgy’ Halter, who moves to a boarding school in hopes of a second chance for happiness through reinventing himself. Culver Creek becomes a place of many firsts, for Pudgy. He makes friends with incredibly funny, larger-than-life characters who are, on first impression, exactly ‘the wrong sort’. In particular, he fancies himself in love with the intriguing, the elusive, the shrouded-in-mystery and lover-of-drama, Alaska Young. Even through the tragedy of  her life, Pudgy finds with new conviction, that  despite very real obstacles in the very real labyrinth of life, that the Great Perhaps he seeks is undiminished in its allure .

En fin, I find myself making an unlikely comparison with another book I read recently, which is Steppenwolf, by Herman Hesse. The latter is much more convoluted, but all the same, seeks an explanation for man’s desire to keep living despite life’s lack of nice, formulaic guarantees. And surprisingly, both authors find comfort in biblically rooted ideas of redemption and hope.

If I haven’t made a convincing argument for reading the book already, I’ll leave his brilliant words the job:

“When adults say, “Teenagers think they are invincible” with that sly, stupid smile on their faces, they don’t know how right they are. We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born, and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail.”

[Rap by Alaska]: “Oh shit did you just diss the feminine gender / I’ll pummel your ass then stick you in a blender / You think I like Tori and Ani so I can’t rhyme / but I got glow like Ghostbusters got slime / objectify women and it’s fuckin’ on / you’ll be dead and gone like ancient Babylon.”

But I lacked the courage and she had a boyfriend and I was gawky and she was gorgeous and I was hopelessly boring and she was endlessly fascinating. So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was hurricane.

(Cheering at a basketball game)The Colonel led all the cheers.
Cornbread!” he screamed.
CHICKEN!” the crowd responded.
And then, all together: “WE GOT HIGHER SATs.”
Hip Hip Hip Hooray!” the Colonel cried.

“Have you really read all those books in your room?” Alaska, laughing- “Oh God no. I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.”

“I hated cranberry sauce, but for some reason my mom persisted in her lifelong belief that it was my very favorite food, even though every single Thanksgiving I politely declined to include it on my plate.”

“Suffering is universal. it’s the one thing Buddhists, Christians, and Muslims are all worried about.”

“I am concussed.”

“But why Alaska?”, I asked her. She smiled with the right side of her mouth.”Well, later, I found out what it means. It’s from an Aleut word, Alyeska. It means ‘that which the sea breaks against’, and I love that. But at the time, I just saw Alaska up there. And it was big, just like I wanted to be. And it was damn far away from Vine Station, just like I wanted to be.”

*Edit: I do think the fox hat may have been a sort of wink at the reader (reminiscent of Holden Caulfield’s red hunting hat), if in fact the book was inspired by Catcher in the Rye, which (for the record) the author makes no mention of.

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You just have to get into YA once in a while. 🙂 Oh and yes, SPOILER ALERT. So, Mockingjay was not good, yet not bad. And yes, I read it this late ’cause it wasn’t out in the stores yet.

It seems like the author, Suzanne Collins sort of got lost while she was writing this. It’s like she was still figuring out the plot and it was published. Now, I don’t mean to say it is bad, it is pretty good, it has its moments yes, but I wanted so much more, especially with how I enjoyed Hunger Games. That was one in which she captured the emotions and beautifully crafted it, if small and simple.

The first thing is, she dragged it, until the end. It’s like everything happened at the end.  I did like the whole ‘getting into the final battle’ and how that was executed, but it was a flaky pace. It should’ve been more consistent. She shouldn’t have given us a large dose of action in the last 100-odd pages.

The three protagonists were a major let down for me. Katniss is a fighter. I expected a lot more form her. I agree, the way she handles Katniss’ break down because of people around her and Snow pretty well, but I needed more. I did enjoy how she handled depicting the war and not making Katniss some great heroine, but I wanted to see a little more action toward the end. Mainly, I didn’t want to see it from the eyes of a character on the sidelines. But, I do like that she put Katniss in the sidelines. I’m not trying to contradict myself here, I just like/dislike certain aspects of something.

Peeta. He was handled pretty well, with the mutt transformation and all that. It was a pretty good job.

Gale. It seemed like she forgot how she portrayed him in the first book. I miss that. I miss the Gale I really loved from book 1. She seemed to have developed his character based on how she wanted the story to end. He was vague before, yes, and I completely agree with his anger, but she sort of messed with his character.

Which brings me to the Love Triangle. Katnnis, Peeta and Gale. This frustrated me, really. I mean, Katniss’ emotions is understandable in Book 2, but honestly, the end just bothered me. I wanted her to make the choice. She should have the last word. She mustn’t just give up.  In fact, I would’ve been happier if she left it with Katniss confused, and all three of them in 13.

I enjoyed the war details and how they planned for the assassin. It was pretty good. And, I do wish she spent a little more in describing their deaths. That would have definitely made it better. But I did like the different ways of them dying. Speaking of deaths, she should’ve built Prim up as a character before killing her in a way that was to provide a giant reaction. No, it doesn’t come off like Dobby’s of Fred’s death. We knew them well enough to love them. Prim, no. She was a cute kid, a good sister, a good helper to the mother.

To conclude, I wouldn’t say I hated the book. It’s just that I had some expectations. Maybe Katniss being the great heroine was pretty unrealistic and this portrayal was good-ish, but I definitely wanted more.

Rating : 2.5/5

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First: We are all still alive. Lucid and I just got done with (technically; we still have English and Environmental Science papers) a string of exams that, well, weren’t so great when they happened, so we won’t be reliving them. And Fuzzy’s tests begin this Monday. Joy.

Anyway, this is a book that I loved when I first read it, aged twelve.  I just read it over and I’ve no idea why I haven’t read it more because it = 100% genius.

Call of The Wild ( by Jack London) is the story of a Scots Shepherd/Saint Bernard named Buck.  At the start of the novel, Buck is a pet dog, living the good life with a kind master. However things change as he is um, dog-napped and sold by the gardener to pay off a debt. From here on he is expected to be part of a team of sled dogs, adapting to the harsh winter and understanding the more primal ways of his companions. But Buck learns fast and, in fact, ousts the head of the pack after gaining their respect through his formerly stifled natural instincts for leadership. Eventually, he is sold again– this time to a family who know near-nothing about sledding and whose foolhardiness would have killed them several times over had it not been for Buck. In the course of their journey, they meet a certain John Thorton who notices their ineptitude and warns them from traveling  further throught the thin ice. They ignore his warnings, but Buck, who also recognizes the potential danger refuses to draw them ahead. Thorton, recognizing him for the extraordinary animal that he is, cuts him free and takes him from the family. John is a good master and Buck soon grows to worship him. On the other hand, the wilderness tugs on his more primeval nature in the form of an alluring, unfettered pack of wolves. He follows them and disappears for several days. On his return to visit his beloved master, he finds that he has been killed by Native Americans. In a wild fury, Buck hunts them down and kills them all to avenge his master and returns every so often to the site of his death.

The story captures beautifully the two strong contrasting tendencies of a domesticated creature such as Buck is– the unconditional adoration and loyalty to a good master that earns dogs the rank of Man’s Best Friend and  their more aggressive, impassioned response to the call of the wild.

If that wasn’t convincing enough, I shall let Jack London’s words do the talking:

All that stirring of old instincts which at stated periods drives men out from the sounding cities to forest and plain to kill things by chemically propelled leaden bullets, the blood lust, the joy to kill — all this was Buck’s, only it was infinitely more intimate. He was ranging at the head of the pack, running the wild thing down, the living meat, to kill with how own teeth and wash his muzzle to the eyes in warm blood... It filled him with a great unrest and strange desires. It caused him to feel a vague, sweet gladness, and he was aware of wild yearnings and stirrings for he knew not what.

There is an ecstasy that marks the summit of life and beyond which life cannot rise.. and it came to Buck, leading the pack, sounding the old wolf-cry.. He was sounding the deeps of his nature.

When the long winter nights come on and the wolves follow their meat into the lower valleys, he may be seen running at the head of the pack through the pale moonlight or glimmering borealis, leaping gigantic above his fellows, his great throat a-bellow as he sings a song of the younger world, which is the song of the pack.

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Pirate Latitudes – the last book ever to be published under the name Michael Crichton.  It was released posthumously and I was super-excited for another M.C. book. His science fictions are truly amazing.

This last book, failed in all points. I had expected a lot out of this book and I was entirely disappointed. I’m sure veryone who’s read just one other MC book will agree, that this was just plain

It started out quite boring, and didn’t really hook me in. The plot wasn’t good, and well, the sequence of events were poor. I mean, to attack a fort is one thing, to survive against the kraken is a whole new thing. It lacked all the science and suspense of MC’s general style.  His style incorporates intense research into the subject which Pirate Latitude evidently lacks. All the statements seemed just there as words, not really forming a picture in my head. The words never gave me sense of believing the story. A lot of the dialogue was cheesy, like some sort of movie.The length was very short, unlike his usual long, content-loaded books.

In fact,  Pirates Of The Caribbean, was amazing compared to this.

I’d rate it 2/5.

I just hope that it had been some draft of some sort that he was working on.

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wakin-dreamWodehouse has competition.OK, not quite. But I just finished reading Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome.K.Jerome and I am going to recommend this to anyone who will listen. It is the story of three men who want to get away from their tiresome city lives, and go on a bummel (” A journey, long or short, without an end; the only thing regulating it being the necessity of getting back within a given time to the point from which one started”).

If it isn’t obvious from the Wodehouse reference, this one’s a comedic piece and very well written. The novel basically deals with their misadventures in Germany, due mostly to linguistic and cultural complications. OK, clearly I’m not too good with the reviews, particularly when there isn’t much by way of a plot-line but I promise you, it’s hilarious. And I wont complain about college* if you do.Deal? 🙂

I liked it so much, in fact, that I’m going to go find his first book Three Men in a Boat and recommend that endlessly to you.


*Well, I’ll try, anyway.That’s all I’m asking of you!

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wakin-dreamThis month’s theme for NaBloPoMo is ‘routine’ , so I figured I should do a ‘Bookmark’-post.What’s more routine (or boring) coming from me, yeah?

I defy you to call this book boring, though.Catcher in the Rye by J.D.Salinger is a book that stalked me until I finally gave in and bought a copy already.

A book that opens with

If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them.”

hardly requires recommending, but I shall persist.Holden Caulfield is both narrator and lead character of this “story” that reads more like the inside of his head for all its “classic novel” status. He is a cynical teenager who has been expelled from a few schools, and at the start of the novel runs away from this last one ( Pencey Prep). He classes himself as a failure in every subject except for English, for which every Holden child seems to have inclination. This only adds fuel to fire as he already finds the adult world “phony”, and decides to catch a train to New York , although he does not inform his family of this, imagining (correctly) that the consequences could be nothing pleasant. New york disappoints him with more ‘phoniness’ , and he indulges in some, himself. Eventually, he sneaks home to see his younger sister, Phoebe, whom he clearly adores, and who is also almost the only person he seems to want to communicate with (the lack of phoniness helps, I suppose). He then decides to stay with the Antolinis -Mr.Antolini was a former English teacher and good friend. He is disturbed by Antonlini’s patting his head while asleep and leaves his house only to wander the city. Finally, he tells Phoebe that he plans to head west.His sister wants desperately to go with him, but he refuses. To pacify the girl, he takes her to Central Park Zoo, where he observes her thrill as she rides the carousel. The author chooses not to reveal Holden’s final decision, only saying that he “feels sick ” and will attend yet another school in September. Holden seems even to miss his phony roomies, although his attitusde is not much altered.

Put like that, the story is nothing special, but its charm lies in Holden’s slang and the incredibly honest style of writing.Further, his unreliable sense of perception leaves lots of room for interpretation and debate. He is most definitely an unforgettable character and reason enough for the book’s Cult label.

Bottom line: Must read,five stars.. in Holden’s own words ” It kills me”.

If after all that, you still need persuading, I’ll borrow the author’s words:

“Boy, when you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddamn cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.”

“Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a toilet seat.”

” Anyway, I’m sort of glad they’ve got the atomic bomb invented. If there’s ever another war, I’m going to sit right the hell on top of it. I’ll volunteer for it, I swear to God I will.”


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Hello! Yes it’s been a long time. *blame those exams*


“Imagine you cut an orange in half….” (That’s one of my favourite lines from the book, the significance of which you would realize a little later)

So yes, I just re-read “The Simoqin Prophecies” by Samit Basu.It’s brilliant. You should read it, if you ever lay your hands on it.

Basically, it’s a fantasy, with a mix of Indian and western elements. The one thing I love the most is the fact that Basu brings in themes, characters and events from “The Ramayana”, an Indian epic. Those who haven’t heard of the basic story might find it difficult to realize the connection.

The story basically revolves around Kirin, Maya, and Asvin; and is centered around 2 prophecies made 200 years ago by Simoquin. There’s a dark lord rising called Danh-Gem (which is Meghnad, backwards who is an evil guy from “The Ramayana”) who has to be defeated at all costs. (And no, It does NOT end up like Harry Potter.) There’s magic, there’s demons, politics, humour and racial fights, different world and aliens, and most importantly “The Gods” who decide your fate.  The world he weaves is intricate and you HAVE to read it to find out for yourself.

These books are brilliant especially by an Indian author who doesn’t settle for “good vs. evil” and “good” wins.

The 2nd book and 3rd book are called :

The Manticore’s Secret

The Unwaba Revelations.

 simoqin-propheciesThe manticore_s secretunwaba revelations

And besides that, Ive been watching Idol obsessively. Im an Adam Lambert fan. I hope its him and Allison in  the finals! Go Adam!


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wakin-dreamYup, we’re back with that boring old thing.But since people are just begging to hear form us..

Atonement by Ian McEwan :

In this case, I think it’s safe to judge the book by it’s cover which, if it isn’t apparent, I love.Or the title- take your pick.

On one level it is ” Ah, another romance novel”  and that’s what the movie deals with, mostly, but I think the author’s genius lies in the first half of the book.Briony Tallis. There are very few characters as compelling or believable.Well, that’s a bit of a contradiction, isn’t it? Because what I’m getting at is how unbelievable a character she really is.This, coupled with the brilliant ( I can’t say this enough) imagery elevates the book to ‘must-read’ status.

The psychology of a thirteen-year -old who takes herself too seriously, who is almost frighteningly self-assured and heady is brilliantly played out. She writes her first short story at 11- a little foolish, pretentious but her ponderings speak otherwise. She wonders if her characters reveal too much of herself, she is forever looking for long-tailed words, she means to have a good influence on her brother (several years senior to her) through her work..In short, an uncommon child, and very interesting.And these are the very traits that later cause her to devote her entire life to atoning for separating her sister Cecila from the charlady’s son, Robbie (who also goes to college with her, and whose education is paid for by the Tallis family). She misconstrues a confrontation between the two for a threat to her sister and resolves to ‘save her sister’ ( Like I said– heady!) from this ‘maniac’. And so it is, that when a terrible crime occurs, she believes Robbie guilty and goes to her parents with her theory. There is enough ‘evidence’ that the police are called.Briony repeats her fabricated story, although at first with a little reluctance and suggesting that it is only theory, with increasing confidence in her judgement.The result is that Robbie is sent to jail. Meanwhile, Briony grows up and realizes the enormity of the consequences of her actions, particularly as she now knows who the real culprit was. She spends the rest of her life atoning for this- first, through being a nurse instead of heading off to college as was originally planned and then (more importantly) in her old age, writing a novel ‘Atonement’ that tells the entire story. It is the perfect ending to a great novel because it also explains how the story is written– as things happened, and then through Briony’s eyes with the meaning she gives them.

Long story short, I would definitely take it along were I ever asked to pick a bunch of books and get marooned on a deserted island. 😀

Some of my favourite quotes:

She raised one hand and flexed its fingers and wondered, as she had sometimes before, how this thing, this machine for gripping, this fleshy spider on the end of her arm, came to be hers, entirely at her command. Or did it have some little life of its own? She bent her finger and straightened it. The mystery was in the instant before it moved, the dividing moment between not moving and moving, when her intention took effect. It was like a wave breaking. If she could only find herself at the crest, she thought, she might find the secret of herself, that part of her that was really in charge.” ( Briony)

“Their south-east aspect had permitted parallelograms of morning sunlight to advance across the powder-blue carpet. Her breathing slowed and her desire for a cigarette deepened, but still she hesitated by the door, momentarily held by the perfection of the scene – by the three faded Chesterfields grouped around the almost new Gothic fireplace in which stood a display of wintry sedge, by the unplayed, untuned harpsichord and the unused rosewood music stands, by the heavy velvet curtains, loosely restrained by an orange and blue tasseled rope, framing a partial view of cloudless sky and the yellow and grey mottled terrace where chamomile and feverfew grew between the paving cracks.” ( See what I mean by brilliant imagery?)

Was being Cecilia just as vivid an affair as being Briony? Did her sister also have a real self concealed behind a breaking wave and did she spend time thinking about it, with a finger held up to her face? Did everybody, including her father, Betty, Hardman? If the answer was yes, then the world, the social world, was unbearably complicated.” ( Also Briony)

Bernini’s intention must have been for the water to trickle musically from the wide shell with its irregular edges into the basin below. But the pressure was too weak, so that instead the water slid soundlessly down the underside of the shell where opportunistic slime hung in dripping points, like stalactites in a limestone cave. The basin itself was over three feet deep and clear. The bottom was of a pale, creamy stone over which undulating white-edged rectangles of refracted sunlight divided and overlapped.” ( Of a fountain)

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