I've come to realize that I have sort of a "love-meh" relationship with Neil Gaiman's books.
While I absolutely adore his books that are targeted towa...moreI've come to realize that I have sort of a "love-meh" relationship with Neil Gaiman's books.
While I absolutely adore his books that are targeted towards a younger audience (Coraline; The Graveyard Book; Fortunately, the Milk), I somehow cannot bring myself to be more than mildly interested in the others, which are mainly for adults (American Gods, Anansi Boys, Good Omens).
Maybe it's because Gaiman is PHENOMENAL at writing for kids. His words, the imagination behind his stories bring out the kid in you that the jaded experiences of life has buried deep within. It is a pleasure to just open this book and get lost in a time-travel adventure involving pirates, a Stegosaurus, volcano Gods, globs of gooey aliens and confused piranhas, all because someone went out to buy some milk, one day.
I wish Gaiman wrote more books for children. This is SUCH a delight to read. And the accompanying, brilliant, almost Tim Burton-esque illustrations by Skottie Young make it even more so!
I hadn't read any of Sanghi's books before picking this up, but if his writing skills in the Krishna Key is anything to go by, then I can safely say I...moreI hadn't read any of Sanghi's books before picking this up, but if his writing skills in the Krishna Key is anything to go by, then I can safely say I dodged a couple of bullets. I won't waste space pointing out the innumerable similarities between the Krishna Key and the Da Vinci Code, as it's been done to death by the other reviewers on Goodreads. Instead, let me put together a list (in no particular order) of stray observations I made while reading this book. It's going to be a LONG one, so please bear with me (Or skip to the end for the TL;DR version) -
1. If anybody is labouring under the delusion that this is a book with a plot or a story, filled with action, intrigue, conflicts, resolutions and happy endings, let me stop you right here. This isn't so much a novel as one giant-ass lesson in history, mythology and theology. EVERYTHING that happens in the book is done for the sole reason to allow Sanghi to include as much of his research as possible into the book.
2. While the amount of research gone into this book is commendable (and I admit there is no way I can read through all the material mentioned in the appendix to verify or refute his theory), at times it feels like Sanghi is just trying a little too hard to connect everything (literally) to India/Krishna/Vedas (I mean, Noah (He of the Ark) actually comes from Naoh (Hindi word for boat)? Really?)
3. Sanghi has made use of the omniscient POV (my least favourite kind) while writing this book. This means that we get to know everything, everyone of the characters is thinking or saying or doing at all times - which can be an overload of information. It also means, we don't get to spend enough quality time with any of the characters to be able to develop an attachment to them, and end up not caring about anything that happens to any of them -
One of the characters nearly dies in an avalanche! (Don't care.) He is bleeding to death! (Yawn.) All of a sudden, with nothing leading to it whatsoever, they're in love now! (Watching paint dry is more exciting than these two.) They are trapped in a cave-in! (Can we get on with the story already?)
4. The writing is awful. Just...no. The descriptions of characters are extremely cringe-worthy and give the impression that Sanghi has only the vaguest ideas of how most Indians look like -
- [He] had been blessed with godlike physical charms and unblemished complexion... - [She] had the body of a Rajput warrior queen and the analytical mind of a Tamil engineer... - [His] outward appearance was that of a geek - ill-fitting clothes, uncombed hair ... face was blemished with acne and his personal hygiene left a lot to be desired... (this last one made my blood boil a little because, not only do I consider myself a geek and find this extremely offensive, but, also, it is SO CLEARLY stereotypical and LAZY, that it leaves no room for any doubt that Sanghi doesn't give two hoots for his characters - he only needs them as a mouthpiece to show off his research) - On his balding head was a straw hat that gave him the appearance of a mafia don...
Half the time, the characters say things that are so unbelievable, that even suspension of disbelief doesn't quite work here. Imagine, if you will, an Indian cop who says things like "Cat got your tongue?... Your femme fatale friend...[Talking about jail] Welcome to Hotel California. You can check in any time but you can never leave!"
5. The editing is careless, to say the least. I can recall two instances (page 301 and 389) where Radhika and Saini are referred to as Priya, respectively.
6. At one point, Saini, an Indian professor, says to Priya, fellow Indian - "For your information, a yojana is about nine American miles...". Excuse me?? Since when did Indians stop using the metric system?? It is things like this that make me loathe to pick up books by Indian authors! From this one statement, it is SO OBVIOUS that Sanghi has written this book keeping (probably non-existent) American readers in mind, while the truth is that almost all of his readers will be Indians (because, c'mon, which American in his right mind will want to read a Da Vinci Code rip-off?). Know your audience Mr. Sanghi. DO NOT ALIENATE THEM.
7. Sanghi has a habit of over-sharing. Throughout the book we are told that the characters are wearing Reebok shoes or Levis jeans or carrying a Samsung Galaxy XCover or using an Apple iPad or driving a Yamaha bike with a 150cc engine or smoking a Cohiba cigar....!! Are you being paid to endorse these products Mr. Sanghi? No? Then quit it, because, and I cannot emphasize this enough, NOBODY CARES. Give us a gist of the scene and settings, and leave the rest to our imagination. Do not spoon-feed us and insult our intelligence!
8. Speaking of insulting the reader's intelligence, Sanghi also has a habit of re-iterating key passages of the book during a big reveal. In italics. I can almost hear his voice in my head going, Look! See! Here's the twist in the story BUT I HAD ALREADY HINTED ABOUT IT BEFORE. See how smart I am?!?!?! And since you're too stupid to figure it out on your own, I'm going to remind you about the hint by typing it again! In italics! Because that's how it's supposed to be done!!!!!!!
9. Finally, let's talk about the plot. Can I say, contrived much?
So we begin with a Mr. Varshney, who starts off the whole thing by giving Saini a VERY IMPORTANT ancient seal. He tells Saini to safeguard it for him as he is afraid his life might be in danger. Question, WHY is his life in danger, Mr. Sanghi? What gave him the idea? What did he figure/find out that led him to believe that what he has in his possession is also wanted by dangerous people who will stop at nothing to obtain it, and that he has to give it to FOUR different people to keep it safe, all of whom HAPPEN to be descendants of Krishna? How did he convince those people to do this favour for him?
Also, Every character we ever meet conveniently has an abundance of knowledge on Indian history and can spout them at will. Even the so-called "mob boss" knows the ins and outs of Krishna's escapades, as well as detailed info on nuclear transmutations(!!!!!)
Don't expect us to just go along with your story, Mr.Sanghi, make it believable!
10. The ending. Oh God, the ending! The norm in reading a book is that the ending is supposed make the rest of the journey worthwhile. That's the whole point of the book. Sanghi spectacularly fails in this. The ending is so abysmally done, you feel like tearing at your hair and throwing the book at the nearest wall, for having wasted your precious time on this drivel. Through the whole book, they gather the seals, escape from death, travel across the country, only to be told, and in turn tell us, that (paraphrasing) "we should aim to be better people in life and only then we can be happy". Not a peep about the seals or the Krishna Key after that. So everybody in the book died for this?! I read through all that crap for this?!
TL;DR - Less thrills and more facepalms. Terrible writing. Shoddy editing. Contrived plot. No story. Severely lame ending. Too much historical information stuffed into one book. Don't bother reading unless you're a Indian mythology/Conspiracy theory buff.
P.S - I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't see the reveal of Mataji coming. But that might be because I really didn't care about the story at that point.(less)
I'm not really the sort of person who needs to have all her questions answered by the end of the book. I don't sit and dissect every book I read, tryi...moreI'm not really the sort of person who needs to have all her questions answered by the end of the book. I don't sit and dissect every book I read, trying to figure out the allegories, once I'm done - I'm mainly in for the ride. Make the story and the world it's set in (not to metion the writing) plausible and I'm a happy camper. So, it's not wonder that The Archived (where, though the world-building is not fully explained away, it is enough to make you think "A library for the dead? Sure, why not.") compelled me to stay up half the night and finish it in one sitting by reading it for 5 hours straight. Yep, for me, it was THAT good.
How do I love thee, dear book? Let me count the ways....
1. Lovely characterisation. All the (main) characters are neatly fleshed out. Even Da, who is only seen in flashbacks, is written about in such a way that even the few scenes he's in, speaks volumes about him. 2. Oh, the brillaint writing! The crippling pain of the loss of a loved one, the aftermath where you deal with it and try to move on, and the mental anguish of seeing them again but knowing it's them but also not them, but just a record of their memories, is captured so beautifully that if you don't shed a tear or two at a particular point in the book (you'll know which one when you come across it), then I DECLARE YOU HAVE A HEART OF STONE. 3. Not only is the male romantic interest a charming, sweet, witty, eyeliner guyliner-wearing goth, who is also NOT tortured or angsty or broody, and has had a completely normal childhood (all things considering), THANK GOD, but also, also, the romance in the book is so subtle that it, refreshingly, doesn't intrude upon the main story. One extra star for this book, just for that. 4. I admit, I could have done with more info on the Archive, the Returns and the Narrows, how things work, how the Keepers, Librarians and the Crew are chosen, etc. etc., but did I mention it's a LIBRARY for the DEAD? (view spoiler)[(If you had the chance to see a loved one, who is long gone, again; remember how they looked, how their touch felt, again; spend just 5 minutes with them, again, even though you KNOW it's not exactly them but just an echo of who they used to be when they were alive, would you take it?) (hide spoiler)] 5. The mystery of the Archive, the rouge Librarian, the source of all the chaos happening in the Narrows was neatly done. It kept me guessing till the end (I was half-right) but the final reveal did shock me - it was not even close to what I was expecting. (view spoiler)[I think I've said too much. (hide spoiler)] 6. IT HAS A SEQUEL!!!!!!!!!!!!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
It was my fault. I had WAY too many expectations from this one.
I positively adored and devoured the first installment of this series, The Name of the...moreIt was my fault. I had WAY too many expectations from this one.
I positively adored and devoured the first installment of this series, The Name of the Wind, and so, understandably, I had high hopes for its sequel. But, man, what a let-down!
Let me make one thing clear here - I wasn't disappointed with the writing in this book; I was disappointed with the editing. Dreadfully done. There were just SO many parts of the book that we could have simply done without (As one reviewer put it - the goddamn Felurian bit!).
I get it, really. It's Rothfuss' baby so he'll write whatever the hell he wishes, but, if not him, couldn't at least the editor keep the readers in mind and crop out the unnecessary parts? Honestly, somewhere around the middle of the book (after Kvothe sets out to hunt down the bandits) I was skipping pages more often than reading them.
I also got the feeling that Rothfuss doesn't really understand women. Did anybody understand what Fela said when she was explaining how the female mind works (keeping Denna's behaviour in mind) to Kvothe? I certainly didn't - and I'm a woman!
I was all set to give this book 5 stars. And then I hit the Felurian part, and I came down to 4 stars. I ended up giving The Wise Man's fear 3 stars when I realized that I could have skipped this book and gone directly to the third, and I wouldn't have missed a thing.
P.S - I hate Denna. A lot. With a passion. P.P.S - Goddamn Felurian!(less)