Book Review, Indian authors

In the Name of God by Ravi Subramanian

Banker-turned-writer Ravi Subramanian’s 2017 release has nothing to do with banking. After a successful series of financial and banking thrillers that ensued the literati since If 

In the name of GodGod was a Banker, Ravi Subramanian is stepping out of his forte to deliver a crime thriller on the lines of John Grisham and James Patterson. His new novel, In the Name of God begins and ends in the capital city of Kerala, where I call home- Thiruvananthapuram. But in the span of 400 pages, Ravi Subramanian takes you on a whirlwind across continents before the suspense and thrill are put to rest.

The novel is mainly fiction. However, the story is largely based on real places, people, and incidents.Since Thiruvananthapuram is fondly named after the deity, Sree Padmanabhan is a sentiment to the natives. Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple stands tall at the heart of Thiruvananthapuram, the capital of Kerala. The temple houses 6 vaults (A to F). The vaults to  F have been opened numerous times under supervision and most of the riches in the vaults have been cataloged recently. However, the and vaults in the temple that have not been opened or cataloged for centuries and this has been a wire topic here down south. While the real-life incidents are a developing story back home, Ravi Subramanian’s thriller borrows quite a lot from the newspapers to be fictionalized. His story is that and lot more.

I haven’t read any of the author’s previous works and hence had no frame of reference

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Image courtesy: thirtysixandcounting.wordpress.com

or expectations from Ravi Subramanian. If anything, I was slightly apprehensive as this novel is based on places I still call home. But, Ravi did not slightly bit disappoint. He is often quoted saying that he would love to be known as the John Grisham of banking or finance thrillers. Who am I to judge! But I would definitely count on this thriller to be on the lines of a James Patterson – for keeping up the thrill and pace. Kabir Khan, the additional director for CBI who is played up as ‘India’s finest’ in cutting through bureaucracy, prejudice, and red-tapism is your run-of-the-mill detective with near to nil character detailing. You hardly “see” or “feel” his character through the pages. And for that reason alone I don’t see this novel being drawn into a ‘Kabir Khan’ series of investigations in the future. Interestingly, Kabir Khan, the officer in the Culture & Heritage crime dept who walks in to investigate a crime involving a temple is the son of an inter-religious couple. I was instantly amused at the clearly conscious choice of name for the officer and his placement in a religiously charged backdrop. Last but not the least, I found the book cover designing

Last but not the least, whatever happened to creative and attractive book covers! The plain and unimaginative cover art is the single-most off-putting aspect of the book. And apart from that, the book is quite an engaging, fast paced thriller. Written in the simplest of language the narration is a no-brainer, meaning puts no pressure on the reader. So, I don’t know about John Grisham, but I do think Ravi Subramanian is India’s James Patterson for his easily digestible thriller.

Verdict: For a book of 400+ page this one is a fast-paced easy to read thriller. It’s meant for the casual reader who loves thrill and adventure.

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Book Review, Non-Indian authors

Into The Water by Paula Hawkins

British author Paula Hawkins became a New York Times best-selling author with her debut psychological thriller The Girl on the Train in 2015. The book flew off the counter

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Paula Hawkins

and then the movie happened. Though the movie didn’t fare quite well, the book was still sought after. Though the book also garnered quite mixed reactions; readers had a love-hate relationship with it. Into The Water, is her second thriller, that hit the stands last month. The cover of the book, however, looked intriguing enough for me to grab a copy! The water on the cover did add to the element of mystery to the story.

 

into the waterSo, without much ado let me dive into the deep waters of Paula Hawkin’s second psychological thriller ‘Into the Water’. The story, as her previous, is based in Britain- in the sleepy countryside of Bedford, just off London. The story surrounds Drowning Pool, “a place to get rid of troublesome women.” Nel Abbott wants to document the women who have lost their lives at the Drowning Pool through photographs and has been working on the project amidst some vocal objections. The story starts as Nel Abbott is found dead in the Drowning Pool and her estranged sister, Jules is called in as the only surviving guardian to Nel’s 15-year old daughter, Lena.

The story gives you the creeps in parts and parcels. There is mystery, intrigue and an element of the supernatural neatly weaved in. But most importantly, there are over 11 POVs, sometimes contradictory, through which the story is being said (good luck with that!). In true Paula Hawkins style, all the male characters in this novel as abusive and morally corrupt while women are victims of their circumstances. For those who find that disturbing, welcome to the club. For a thriller the book, at times, seems to drag the story to no end. But there is a mystery and I read it till the very end so I don’t miss the reveal in the end.

Verdict: If you a Paula Hawkins fan go right ahead for this dark tale of intrigue. And fans of thrillers might want to take on this book with some patience.

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Book Review, Indian authors

The Rise of Sivagami: Book 1 of Baahubali – Before the Beginning by Anand Neelakantan

‘Why did Kattappa kill Baahubai?’, the most asked question in these 2 years, only begins 911wBYUAMAL.__BG0,0,0,0_FMpng_AC_UL320_SR208,320_
to gauge the wide public interest in the Baahubali franchise. While the answer to this question might evade us till the end April this year, when Baahubali 2 -The Conclusion releases, clues to it might be hidden in plain sight within the pages of The Rise of Sivagami, written by Anand Neelakantan. SS Rajamouli and Anand Neelakantan were well ahead of their game in marketing Baahubali franchise and the book by releasing Chapter 2: Kattappa ahead of the book release to pique interest. The book was up for pre-ordering on Amazon and it hit the stands on 15th of March, 2107. I caught hold of a digital copy from the Kindle store on the D-day.

The very first few pages into the book told me that it will need more than my Anand-Neelakantancursory attention. All the main characters are listed with their brief description before the story begins. This gives you an insight into what is in store for you. It also gives you a sense of the magnitude of the plot. This fictional political drama focuses on Sivagami’s story. How from young orphan she turned into the powerful bureaucrat she seems in the first movie of the franchise. The characters seem well thought out and by the end of the book you see a lot of them evolve into full bloom. The plot twists and turns tend to shock at times and sometimes get predictable. But, this book only starts to lay a ground for the plot twists and turns that could be possible in a story of this magnitude.

Anand Neelakantan had announced his arrival with his book Asura: The Tale of the Vanquished. And, in true Anand Neelakantan style, there are no black and white characters here either; every character has a gray shade, with the exception of Kattappa and Mahadeva. But, Neelakantan, a fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series himself, assures us that the plot will only thicken as the series proceeds.

Verdict: If you have enjoyed Baahubali, the movie and the mini-series on Amazon Prime, then you are definitely going to love and enjoy it. This book serves in thickening the plot and getting you further immersed into the world of Mahishmati. 

 

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Book Review, Indian authors

An Unsuitable Boy

I’ve always loved Karan Johar movies in an eye and brain candy sort of a way. He an-unsuitable-boy-by-karan-johar-book-review-buy-onlinecreates this rich, exuberant, extravagant and seemingly spotless world to place his
stories that more often than not they feel like desi fairy tales.They always have the same ol’ paeans of love to sing, but they are entertaining in a strangely comforting way. I let myself have a Karan Johar candy every once in a while each one I’ve liked or one reason or the other. Koffee with Karan is another of my favorites from his work. So, I had made up my mind to read his autobiography. But, even before I could set hands on the book I saw quite a few strategically placed excerpt and articles based on the book here and there. These articles readily prompted discussions based on the books and all this was clearly working to spike our interest about the book. That’s the brilliance of Karan Johar, the media mogul.The book caught its first hype with the talk of whether in this book Karan would reveal what the entire world has been speculating about his sexual orientation. I found an excerpt from the book somewhere on the internet where he refuses to talk about the hot topic while full well engaging in the discussion to keep the public voyeurism at its peak. I found an excerpt about his fallout with Kajol, about his relationship with Shahrukh Khan and also about how he was miffed with Kareena Kapoor for asking equal pay as Shahrukh Khan. All these excerpts put the book right at the spot, feeding into public voyeurism; a smart marketing strategy if you ask me!

The book caught its first hype with the talk of whether in this book Karan would reveal what the entire world has been speculating about his sexual orientation. I found an excerpt from the book somewhere on the internet where he refuses to talk about the hot topic while full well engaging in the discussion to keep the public voyeurism at its peak. I found an excerpt about his fallout with Kajol, about his relationship with Shahrukh Khan and also about how he was miffed with Kareena Kapoor for asking equal pay as Shahrukh Khan. All these excerpts put the book right at the spot, feeding into public voyeurism; a very smart marketing strategy if you ask me!

The real reason, I think, why he wrote this book lies in these lines, though-

I’m not taken seriously by the industry nor by the audience beyond a point. I don’t know why. Maybe, I’m a victim of my own image.

I strongly feel this book ventures out to clear a lot of air around the image Karan Johar projects. Starting from the title of the book, for which he has given no explanation anywhere, I think Karan Johar is dying to scream out those three words the world perceives of him. This book is his emotional catharsis, his therapy, as he defines it. Through the book he has tried to clear some emotional clutter in order to make way for what he believes to be his “best decade.”

With this book, Karan Johar gives us a guided tour of his life, work, and goals. He speaks at length about his relationships, his creative process, and his personal growth on all levels. Although self-admittedly Karan Johar has been one of the most publicly accessible and ‘out-there’ filmmaker with this book he attempts to open the doors to his life further wide. But, make no mistake as you get to see only so far as he wants you to see. So, if you want to read the book for the quintessential Bollywood gossip of who is/was/will be with whom or to absolutely know if he is gay then you are barking the wrong tree. But, if you want to know what drives Karan Johar and how, or even who did he cheat on the Rapid Fire round on Koffee with Karan, then go ahead and grab a copy.

 

Rating : 3/5

Verdict: For anyone who belongs to the media fraternity or is interested in an insight into the movie industry this is a guide on how nepotism works and rules. If you are a fan of the works of Karan Johar, which I am, this book is worth your while. But, since I’m not sure it’s worth the price I would suggest you grab yourself a copy on a sale or from your library if you will.

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