Every now and then a book arrives that knocks the socks off the reader forcing him to wonder how imaginative can an author really be. This paranoid ma...moreEvery now and then a book arrives that knocks the socks off the reader forcing him to wonder how imaginative can an author really be. This paranoid masterpiece by Ray Bradbury did exactly that to me. It begins on a brilliant note detailing a dreaming Martian and the first crew to arrive on Mars building an eerie, haunting atmosphere in the process. He never lets go of the tension throughout the book. It doesn't matter whether the author is writing about a family dinner or a fishing trip, the reader always remains apprehensive about the characters prospects. It can be a tad depressing and the violence can be disconcerting but I still found it to be thoroughly enjoyable read. Although I feel slightly disappointed by his decision to be brief, I am impressed enough to get interested in his other stories.(less)
One thing you gotta love about holocaust is no matter how crudely it represents suffering and pain, its portrayal eventually compels you to value your...moreOne thing you gotta love about holocaust is no matter how crudely it represents suffering and pain, its portrayal eventually compels you to value your life more than you commonly do. In a way, I see them as inspirational readings which sometimes evoke feelings of compassion. And writers can always find a shortcut to good writing when they choose it as a setting. But, Marcus Zusak didn’t contend himself with decent writing and apparently decided to step further to see if we indeed are humans by tugging our strings. Oh! I gotta say that I found myself going sentimental at many instances. Although, I was often irritated by the judgmental tone adapted by death (who the heck does he think he is, really?), Zusak thankfully ended up nailing a beauty.
Although there were tons of dramatizations to be found, they never felt obvious or forced. As such stories often require, it is indeed the tiniest details which make you wonder or smile and make you wish you could give the character a hug. After Anne Frank and this, I think I would totally be game if I stumble upon another decent holocaust book. (may be, it won't be far) (less)
I think I like Castle. It might not be as good as The Trial, but Kafka does bring a better effort to his alienation of protagonists. This time not onl...moreI think I like Castle. It might not be as good as The Trial, but Kafka does bring a better effort to his alienation of protagonists. This time not only the characters help him do that, but also the setting which was visceral and infuses a sense of amiss in the reader. But, Kafka tries to do too much with the premise. Although the mood of the novel is brilliantly unrelenting, the multilayer structure buckles under its own weight with too many questions, incomplete perspectives and allusions. It doesn't help that he continuously contradicts what he says and make the whole saga a little too sad.
As we often hear, his short stories might just be his best work. (less)
It’s been more than a year since I read the last book in this series. I often wondered if it’s as good as I thought it was. But after reading this boo...moreIt’s been more than a year since I read the last book in this series. I often wondered if it’s as good as I thought it was. But after reading this book I gladly realized that liking this series was no fluke. Michael Scott continues to write overtly simple, highly dramatic, cliché ridden story that simply never fails to entertain. This is such a guilty pleasure that I constantly reminded myself how childish I am which is why I think this series is mighty fun. That is not to say that this managed to emulate the earlier ones. But it still reminded me why I loved an obscure young fantasy series an year ago.
Now I will happily wait for the final book. Not that I’m curious about the ending but I expect the experience to be memorable.(less)
Oh-Ho Stephen King!! Now I understand why that show Family Guy was making fun of you. You really are desperate, aren’t you?
The writing was top notch i...moreOh-Ho Stephen King!! Now I understand why that show Family Guy was making fun of you. You really are desperate, aren’t you?
The writing was top notch in the beginning, as it usually is in most of his novels. Then he decides to introduce a goofy premise and we are to watch him make it work. The core horror of the book doesn’t result from creepy animals or funny ghosts, but the happy normal family at the centre of it. His writing was so good that he made me constantly worry about their fate and fear for them. As usual, it is fear of losing your loved ones which is strongest, a point which was exceptionally utilized by The Shining. The core threat arrives from a very lovecraftian setting which works as long as it is shrouded in mystery but starts to lose appeal as soon as the layers are peeled.
At the end of it, I would rate it three as a Stephen king lover. He is a cool guy, much better than this. The first two chapters of second part of the book (36th and 37th) were pretty intense though. If you are also a fan, you would almost have guessed the publishing year just by reading it.
Also, for those of you who will be reading the new edition, I warn you not to read the introduction by the author up front, for it not only spoils some good parts but also takes the menacing feel out of those scenes.(less)
I wouldn't have read this if it wasn't selected for Hindu Literary Award. And I’m not sure how to respond after reading it. It sure is an interesting...moreI wouldn't have read this if it wasn't selected for Hindu Literary Award. And I’m not sure how to respond after reading it. It sure is an interesting take on the Indian poverty and caste system which are often depicted in a polarizing manner. Manu Joseph does manage to avoid some common problems found with Indian fiction especially that of dalits, but he too ends up disappointing in the end refusing to cross the realm of predictability and never bothering about eloquence.
The protagonist (Ayyan) is an interesting character, and through him I allowed myself to hope for brilliance from the writer. He is a decent portrayal of suppressed anger caused due to years of unfairness that an intelligent dalit would be expected to experience. The anger which results from the evaluation which he is constantly forced to make on stark contrasts between the classes was not glorified or subjugated. It was given its due picture. The constant ridicule that he exerts upon the Brahmins is witty and clever (although there is hint of sadness to it). And aspects of his characters are revealed but slowly as the novel progress forcing the reader to view him in new light. But as far I'm concerned the depiction of the other lead character (Acharya) is totally in shambles. Although, the author has justifiable motives, he failed to bring believability to that character which ultimately ends up taking away the appeal. The remaining characters didn't have much to do apart from dancing to the tunes of Indian preconceptions.
Ultimately, the book failed to punch in the guts which is what I expected after the honor it received. It just turned out to be another sham in the course of Indian literature and I'm afraid if it's reputation means a whole lot of sad things for other books on current Indian market.
P.S. I am quite saddened by some Manu Joseph's comments on why few readers do not like the book. After reading the book, you expect the author to have a sense of humor about the way the Indian caste system influences people but he apparently is just another desperate poor guy who gets overtly defensive on the first sign of criticism. It's funny how much a book can be different from the author.(less)
Extremely funny with lots of sarcastic quips. Kudos to Simon & Schuster classics for the tons of annotations they have provided which helped me un...moreExtremely funny with lots of sarcastic quips. Kudos to Simon & Schuster classics for the tons of annotations they have provided which helped me understand the historical context. And I guess I gotta come back to this in the future to gain a better perspective.(less)
Well, this is a strange book. If I had to describe it by a sound, a deflated balloon would be more than apt. Considering the sophisticated and high-st...moreWell, this is a strange book. If I had to describe it by a sound, a deflated balloon would be more than apt. Considering the sophisticated and high-stakes fantasy fiction that is being shelled out these days, one can’t be wronged for finding this underwhelming.
In the introduction, Amish Tripathi says that he intends to explore the possibility of a real person similar to Shiva and solely concentrates on writing a realistic grounded character without actually placing him in a believable environment. Thus, he ended with a half-baked idea which serves as a poor political commentary which explores anachronistic stuff like superstitions and barter system. Which is actually ridiculous because the author makes the characters talk like internet forum users.
The plot was actually decent when it was not dominated by bad writing which constantly tires us with heavy exposition. When Shiva or Sati does something intelligent, instead of letting the reader realize it for him/herself the author makes everyone else around them rant about it endlessly. I appreciate the idea of declaring the destiny of the protagonist while simultaneously making us doubt whether he will be able to accomplish it. But this idea was executed in an ill-chosen manner. Also, the constant sheepish grins and poor jokes made me want to punch Shiva (Oh, I know it’s sacrilegious).
I understand that the author was trying to set up this as a standard fantasy affair where an obscure villager with a mysterious background realizes that he has a destiny to fulfill as soon as he decide to part ways with his normal ways. But the luxury that those fantasies enjoy i.e. vulnerability which comes as a part of the protagonist due to his humble background is missing here. The author couldn’t simply portray Shiva as a susceptible innocent person whose eyes can serve as an entry into a larger mythology. He was rather thrust immediately into the book as an extremely talented warrior with guilt on his conscience. In other words, rather than breaking new ground this turned out to be a standard affair. I wished so hardly that Sati be killed in the middle so that we could read something a little less predictable for a while. Thankfully, the page count (or rather I would say word count) was generous.
The librarian to whom I returned the book assured me that the second one is better. I’m gonna keep an eye for the latter one. After all it was written by an Indian and it has numerous filmy eye-rolling moments (yeah! I can be sentimental).(less)