Saturday, November 28, 2015

Book Review: Seeking Redemption by Madhu Vajpayee



Book: Seeking Redemption

Author: Madhu Vajpayee

No. of Pages: 194

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Half Baked Beans


Story of a girl Meera, who is unwittingly drawn into a conflict from where she finds it difficult to emerge unscathed. It's her journey from being a simple, medical graduate belonging to a middle class family to the uncharted territories of corruption and caste based politics. Her path is crossed by the two men, both compelling yet completely contrasting characters, who are forever going to change her life. If it is Aman who can challenge her ideals and defy her resolves, and makes her the person she finally becomes, it is Abhay's sublime love which enables her to go through the vicissitudes of life. It's also the story of her loss as well as triumph against her own demons to find her true self.


There are some books that have a very captivating writing style.

My first impression was that ‘Seeking Redemption’ had a pretty ordinary but yet captivating writing style. Unfortunately, I can’t express in words what exactly I liked about the writing style, but in the very first few pages of the book, I knew I wouldn’t be regretting giving my time to this book.

Well, the quality which attracted me in the beginning of the book was kind of missing after the first 15-20% of the book. I don’t know what changed but I felt the writing style change and there were a lot of things which looked like first draft writing rather than refined and edited final manuscript version which has been polished.

Add to that the numerous grammatical errors and forced use of words and phrases that did not fit in the context or did not even convey the right meaning; and the end result was that it was not an easy-to-read book at all.

A couple of other things compounded the problem …

One was the constant use of ‘full names’ through the story. It interrupted my reading flow.

The other one was the abrupt break in the flow of the story. Some jump-cuts did not even make sense. The girl gets her parents to agree to met her boyfriend and then there is no mention of the same. The reader turns the page to read about the meeting and it is missing. Woah.

The central theme of the book is indeed caste based reservation BUT referring to it as the main source of problems too many times in the story was an overkill. There are times in the story where the reference does not seem logical. Often it seemed like over-simplifying a problem by blaming it on reservations and the conclusion seemed over-reaching. 

Inconsistency of character is another problem. The characters in the story behave abnormally … that is, they do not behave/react as per their established character. The characters showed signs of slipping (out of character) while the book were, at times, unnecessarily bringing in logic which seemed weird and irrelevant.

So … reading the book was not easy. I was tempted to give-up and abandon on several occasions but continued in the hope of a good story (having given up on ‘good writing’).

I do not blame a first-time author to publish such a flawed work. It is the responsibility of the publisher to help the author refine their product. I am not sure if the Publishers are not doing their job or whether the authors are declining the help given to them by the authors OR are authors not ready to spend on the refinement process?

In spite of all the criticism above, I would say that the author continue to write and learn to refine the writing to make a tighter script with minimal discrepancies and inconsistency. You write a lot and filter a lot … the residue being the finest of what you wrote that weaves together perfectly.

While there are so many problems, there is a little bit of silver lining too. The story has a strong message to convey (although not conveyed properly, unfortunately) and it would great if the book was polished and released again. The perspectives that are presented in the book are indeed worth a read and the author has indeed presented the many perspectives around the issue. The overall argument is well rounded and not one-sided. The overall book is that way good.

The cover design of the book was something that I liked. If I were reading the physical book (rather than a soft copy) I would have surely looked at the cover several times during the reading of the book. The cover echoes the essence of the story in some ways and its good work.


Ratings on Book Review Parameters:
Cover Design: 3.0 / 5
Writing Style: 1.5 / 5
Characters:     1.5 / 5
Story / Plot:     2.0 / 5
Climax:            1.5 / 5
Overall:           2.0 / 5   


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Book Review: Shanti and the Magic Mandala by F T Camargo

Book: Shanti and the Magic Mandala

Author: F. T. Camargo

No. of Pages: 366

Genre: Fiction

Publisher: Lodestone Books


Shanti and the Magic Mandala is an adventure in which fantasy and reality are mingled. The book tells the story of six teenagers, from different religious and cultural origins and different parts of the world, who are mystically recruited to form two groups - one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern. They eventually gather in Peru, and through a single alliance, begin a frantic chase for the sacred object that can stop the black magician's final plan.

The plot may not be new but the treatment and the story telling is pretty colorful

The characters, with different religions and cultural origins, come from different parts of the world and the author takes full advantage of this. He introduces the reader to the diverse cultural and regional things – places, culture, foods, lifestyle etc. The characters travel so there is more to be learnt about places for the reader. It is in a way ... a general knowledge enhancing book for kids/teenagers.

As a story, it is well-told. The author has a nice plot and makes use of parallel story telling across two eras effectively. The characters come together and they keep having flashes of their past lives and ultimately, it is like a reunion.

Each of the 6 characters develops and grows through the book and you enjoy their innocence while shouldering their responsibility. They face danger with courage and they have their guardian angels to help them out of their troubles with the dark elements.

Some may call this book childish or for the teenage crowd and they won’t be wrong either but I enjoyed the book nevertheless because I am still a teenager at heart :)

The book that way was a pretty light read and I think it could have been made far more exciting. All 6 kids had some magic to them and guardians who helped them. There could have been some more challenges which would have made the story more captivating. In the current form, the journey of the 6 kids, although eventful and danger-ridde; was NOT challenging enough. The ‘hero’ rises to the level of the challenges posed by the ‘villain’ and in this book, the level is not too high. May be this was intentional keeping a particular audience in mind, but I suppose the audience (feeding on Eragon, LOTR, HP, Percy Jackson, Hunger games etc) is maturing and can take on more.

In continuation of the same point, even the climax could have been more ‘climactic’ and stunning. Not to say that it was not. It was pretty colorful and interesting – picturising the events in my head was interesting enough.

The story surely has potential and can have sequel added to it and I would look forward to it.

The cover design was ordinary and it would have been great if it was more catchy and realistic. I liked the background image with the 5 backpacking individuals … only thing is there are 6 characters in the story (although at some point one is kidnapped and the other 5 become rescuers) and that they weren’t really backpacking in the story. Yes, they did have bags that they carried around. Maybe I am being too critical but an image with 6 teenagers in the mountains with some ‘dark’ elements to convey their adversary would have been nice. The mandala in the backdrop was a nice touch and they could retain that.


Ratings on Book Review Parameters:

Cover Design: 3.0 / 5

Writing Style: 3.5 / 5

Characters:     3.0 / 5

Story / Plot:     3.0 / 5

Climax:            3.0 / 5

Overall:           3.0 / 5