Month: November 2014

Love Lasts Forever, by Vikrant Khanna
When I first saw this book up for review on Blogadda, something about its description screamed this is one of those chick-lit/easy read books that are being churned out by the dozens nowadays. One look at the title, and any reader would know the type I am referring to: “Love Lasts Forever, Only If You Don’t Marry Your Love” Truer words may not have been spoken, but they have been spoken way too many times. It’s a cliched subject and what is worse is – the way the author has dealt with the subject is a study in stereotypes.
Frankly, I had requested for a copy of this book from Blogadda to be proven wrong. I did not wanna judge a book by its cover (literally). But sadly, I was proven right.

Genre: Easy Read, Romance, Easily-Predictable-Plot (wayyyy too easily)
Summary: An eighteen-year-old Ronit falls madly in love with Aisha at first sight. Aisha is his arch-enemy (fellow batchmate)’s sister (and there begins the stereotypical setting). They get married after being together for seven years and Ronit hates his wife by day three.

The Characters: Are flawed. I don’t mean that in a the-characters-are-realistic-and-believable-as-they-have-been-sketched-out-so-perfectly-imperfect. No. I mean the characters lack depth, there are no shades to their personality, and they are easily forgettable. There’s Ronit, the protagonist. He describes people based on the clothes they wear. If you read closely, he has described how well-coordinated Aisha’s outfits and accessories are but he says nothing about her appearance/features/behavior otherwise. There are sentences like “she looked cute” or something obscure, but it’s pretty lame description of a person. Also, Ronit seems a little selfish. He works for the merchant navy. The ship he is on is captured by pirates, but he thinks of little else apart from his problems with his wife. In real life, when you are being held at ransom (by pirates), that simply does not happen. Either Ronit is the epitome of selfishness or a poorly written character. I am gonna say, latter.
Aisha: All we know about her is she likes the color pink cos she’s a girl (stereotype alert), she likes shopping with her husband’s money (stereotype alert) cos he did not take her to Switzerland for a honeymoon (alert), she hates his relatives (alert buzzer going all over the place), wears well-coordinated outfits and buys similar underwear as (umm, hold your breath) her brother! Moving on.
Shekhar: The ultimate “heartbroken” old man who shares his life story with (and cries in front of) random strangers. He does that with Ronit and mentions he does it often when he feels depressed. He fell in love and married a girl he met at age eight when his father and the girl’s father decided to start living together (as both their wives are no more). Almost like falling in love with your stepsister, had the father remarried rather than asking his friend to move in (just my opinion, but it felt weird that anyone would fall in love with someone they lived and grew up with)
Their fathers: Grown men who were irresponsible enough to leave an eight-year old and a seven year old alone in a house for a week. Come on, what kind of imbeciles do that!
Joe Singh: Ronit’s best friend. Typical testosterone-driven guy who knows all about relationships despite never having been in one himself (I won’t even raise the stereotype alert this time!)
Priyank: The butt of all of Ronit and Joe’s jokes. Arch-enemy (or so described) of theirs. Aisha’s brother, who upon coming to know about her relationship with Ronit, makes him strip to take revenge on something that happened in college. In front of Aisha. Now, I have said that the siblings wear the same brand and type of underwear, but they also make men strip in front of them. Together. Hmm. He’s described as feminine (way too many times) but the way our protagonist describes outfits, I would question who is truly feminine here.
Layout: It follows three different timelines. The present, where Ronit and Shekhar are on the captured ship. Ronit’s past, which he reminisces even while his life is at the mercy of pirates. Shekhar’s past, which narrates his love story. Cos love and marriage are all people think about. Apparently.
The author keeps forgetting Ronit and Aisha’s ages. In chapter 7, Aisha mentions they both are eighteen. Which is strange, as Priyank and Ronit would be (let’s assume) of the same age, but Aisha is supposed to be younger. So, she cannot be eighteen. Then, in chapter 10, seven years have passed and while Ronit is now twenty-five, Aisha is now only twenty-three (despite her saying she was eighteen in chapter 7). Strange.
The description of the ship and the entry of the pirates (chapter 1) is the (minor) saving grace of what is otherwise just a waste of paper and ink (248 pages at that!)
Language: Lots of preposition (e.g., We were in a date) and punctuation errors (commas where not needed and not where needed). There are some sentences which syntactically seem correct but they felt so wrong in my head. For example, read this: “She had communicating eyes”. Not expressive, not even communicative. But communicating. Phrases where simple words should have been used have been unnecessarily “beautified” by bigger words which contextually render the sentence senseless (for example, the simple “etc.” has been replaced by “sundry”. While this in itself seems fine, the resultant sentence was not)
There was a lot of redundancy in certain descriptions. For example, every time Priyank is described, hes referred to as a “her” or a “she” but the narrator corrects it to “him” in his head. Every. Single. Time. Yes, we get it, he’s girly. Why don’t you get over it though? Also there are some places where the obvious has been stated (for not so obvious reasons), e.g., Shekhar is telling Ronit about how he told Shikha they’ll get their own place after getting married. But instead, he unnecessarily describes the daily agenda he had planned after the wedding. And he’s narrating this to a stranger.

A disappointing read, this one. If you still wish to read this leave-your-brains-at-home kinda book, it’s available at Amazon and Flipkart

Rating: 1/5

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Frankly Spooking, by Sriramana Muliya

Thank you Sriramana Muliya for sending me this book. It is presently hiding in my fridge, from where I am hoping it cannot scare me anymore (yes, it was Joey Tribbiani‘s idea to hide it there, but I am sure it works).
Frankly Spooking is a collection of thirty short stories. The flies on the front cover were enough to spook me out as they looked like they may fly out of the book and haunt me in my sleep!
Genre: Paranormal, gore, horror, suspense etc.
Description: While not all stories are truly scary (some like “Soul Stirring” are quite touching, in fact) most are the kind you do not want to read before sleeping. The author deals well with the paranormal kind, but less so with gore. The first story truly spooked me (won’t spoil it for you, so I won’t tell you why) but some stories, like “The Cable” would have been more scary if the author had described the scenario from the victim’s point of view, rather than explaining what was happening to him (show – don’t tell), as the author has done quite well in “Inked”. I found “Mannequins on the Move” and “The Real Thief” to be similar (a vague resemblance).
My favorite out of this collection is “The Team Player”. It was twisted in the most dark and brilliant way. However, (and I would say this about almost all the stories), the title could have been different. In fact, the book’s title itself, led me to believe at first it’s more of a comical take on the supernatural. A more serious title next time, Sriramana? (Yes, when there’s a next time, I would pick that book up too!)
Characters: Well, as this is a collection of short stories, there really isn’t much I can say about the different characters in the stories. A little more description of their behaviors and appearances would have helped though.
Language/Grammar: Some Indianism (off the top of my head – “cousin sister”). Otherwise, the book is simple and easy to follow. The layout and simple language would encourage more people to take up reading as a hobby again (hopefully!)
The stories could have been a bit longer. For example, the last story Blogosphere was really well written, especially because it is not too condensed or scrunched up. Short stories are tricky, but expanding them by a few paragraphs would have helped the buildup leading to the sudden and unexpected climaxes of the stories.
When I read Blogosphere, I was half hoping the author would add a more autobiographical touch to it, to spook his readers out even more! I was not entirely sure if that is what he had tried, but if yes, a bit of polishing would have convinced the reader and made him question if it is indeed true or not! (For example, consider what John Porter has done in Solitude’s Fine. It truly made me question how much of it was actually fiction)

Waiting for Sriramana Muliya’s next! 
Overall Rating: 4/5
The book is available on Flipkart and Amazon
Do buy it; you will not regret it!

Note: This book was sent to me by the author, but a review was not requested. I am reviewing it here as I review most of the other books that I read. This review is not influenced by the author or anyone else in any manner.