Tag: Predictable

Shadow In The Mirror, by Deepti Menon

imagesShadow In The Mirror: A Thrilling Quest for Redemption is a book whose subtitle does not quite go with the plot. It starts with the suicide of a pregnant woman named Nita. Vinny, a journalist, who is covering the story receives a note that says Nita did not commit suicide, but was murdered.

I honestly believe this story would have been much better had the whole scene with the note been avoided. We are told in the first chapter that it was a murder, and because we know it, we identify the murderer just a few chapters later. If the reader was convinced that it was suicide throughout, and if the murder angle was revealed only at the end, the word “thrilling” in the subtitle would have been justified. In this case, there’s not so much as a twist as a blatantly obvious conclusion with regards to the identity of the murderer. There’s not a lot of redemption either – those who are mad stay mad and those who are sad stay sad. Those who are dead (thankfully) stay dead.

With that said, the most interesting character in this story overrun with too many characters is in fact the murderer. Not that she/he committed the murder, but her/his history, as revealed in the chapter set in 1962, Dark Icy Winter. That was one twist that I did not see coming, and was totally impressed with that storyline.

The language is simple, and therefore this was a breezy read.

Too breezy.

And with that, we come to the flaws: the plot is wafer thin. Too many characters running amok in the story, but almost nothing of substance. Nothing meaty. All their backstories felt rushed, and there was too much telling and absolutely no showing. Do not tell me again and again that a character has “always” been a certain way (friendly/moody/artistic/level-headed/business-minded/whathaveyou), show it to me! Given the number of characters in the book, a little more care could have been taken to turn it into a character study of sorts – jealousy, possessiveness, effect of aging etc. Alas, it was a wasted opportunity – only the murderer’s psyche was fully delved into.

Some characters added nothing to the plot, such Kavita’s maid or the whole Gautam angle.

The prose is covered with a thick layer of adjectives, adverbs, cliches, and dead idioms and metaphors. While in the beginning, every setting was described in purple, this reduced as the story progressed. There was, however, no shortage of extra adjectives. Even the cliches and idioms take away from the reading experience and you wish the style of writing could have been better.

The plot takes you from 1958 to 1994. I noticed some inconsistencies in the timelines that I can’t quite wrap my head around. If you look at the dates preceding the chapters, technically this should make sense. But if you close your eyes to the dates and read only the plot, you feel there are some things off. For example, Roma and Vinny were once classmates, so let’s assume they’re of the same age. In one chapter, Roma is said to be older than Nita: “Roma had been shrewd enough to realize the immense advantages of playing tag with a girl, who despite being slightly younger than her, would catapult her straight into the upper bracket of society.” On the other hand, towards the end, it is revealed that Vinny is younger than Nita. Also, in 1989, Roma has a teenage daughter who runs away and becomes a model – considerable amount of time should have passed between these events but there’s definitely a mismatch. And there are several instances where the story jumps in time, but the same does not translate on to the page (no extra line gaps/section breaks). One such instance is: “Vinny brought with her all the normal upheavals that a brand new baby does. . . late nights, erratic feeds, colic and the smell of vomit and Johnson’s baby powder everywhere. “Mummy!” trilled Vinny one day when she got back from kindergarten.” When did kindergarten happen out of the blue? We were talking about colic, weren’t we? You feel at times that the author’s thoughts are not being correctly conveyed through the writing.

On the whole, Shadow In The Mirror is OK. It’s not a new story, but it definitely takes a longer route to reach the usual destination. It’s fast-paced (albeit at the cost of character development) and it keeps the reader mildly curious. Read it if you want a break from heavy literature.

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PS: I received a PDF copy of the book from Readomania. My review is honest and unbiased.

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Without You, by Preethi Venugopala

Without You, by Preethi Venugopala is a book I picked up only because I was systematically clearingpreethi-venugopala-without-you-sreesha-divakaran up the unread books off my shelf. It had been lying there for a while and seeing that I needed something that did not tax my brain too much, given my recent spell (which I’d described in a previous post), I thought now was a good time as any.

Genre: Boy-meets-girl-and-some-insta-crushing

Summary: 20 year old girl meets 26 year old boy. Both profess their “love” for each other though they’ve barely had a conversation. He does creepy stuff like watching her sleep all night. Then his crazy mother insults her, while he just stands there watching. She attempts suicide. Later they reunite (all is forgiven, hallelujah), and she comes to know that he had been sort of stalking her all this while but had not got in touch “for her own good.”

You know what that is? The Twilight Saga 1 & 2, without the vampires or werewolves or glitter. Add in a dash of the cruel mother-in-law from Indian television serials, and there you have it!

They say there is nothing original left to be done in the world of fiction. I’ve no authority to question that statement, but even then, I would not say books are entirely without surprises. Except for Without You – I knew on page one what the ending would be, including the smallest bits which I won’t reveal in order to keep this somewhat spoiler-free. The language is poor, rife with grammar errors (missing articles, incorrect placement of prepositions, wrong punctuations (commas, especially, were murdered), random capitalizations, bad sentence construction) and purple prose. The characters, including the narrator, speak like Yoda (“shameless, she is.”, “you know him, but.”), and many a times, I went like this:

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The heroine is one of the weakest literary characters I’ve seen in quite some time. She faints every now and then in the manner of 18th century dames, that need to be revived with smelling salts. She is also constantly telling us about how blessed she is because of the kind of people she has in her life. She’s the literary version of the overly sentimental friend you have on Facebook, the one who updates status lines such as “feeling blessed with Vishal and 38 other people” Speaking of Vishal, he was a character who had a prominent role in the first half, only to vanish later.

But the funniest part has to be – she plots to get her guy back with the help of “zodiac signs”! That’s her genius plot – the hero is a cancerian so she is sure he will behave in a certain way, and with that she knows how to win him back. Well, hello! Newsflash: zodiac signs are fun, but definitely not airtight-behavioural-pattern predictors. Oh God!

Also, the hero: Bro, you’re 26, and a cardiologist, FFS! How are you so stupid and immature? And he’s weirdly creepy too – meets girl, says “I love you” after, like, a day, texts her 5 times after leaving her house just cos he didn’t get an instant response. Bro, why you no chill!

The predictability of the (clichéd) plot, the overly-detailed and unnecessary description of every surrounding, the stupidity of two people saying “I love you” without even knowing each other, the spinelessness of the hero, the doormat-like behaviour of the heroine, the incorrect over-use of the word “literally” (“I could literally hear his thoughts” Babe, no, you can’t) and the word “alluring”, the dialogue tags added to run-on sentences, the bad shape and repetition that convinced me no editor had probably seen this, the sly goodie-two-shoes judgemental tone (“except for a few stolen kisses, our love was innocent”, “I would’ve made you mine. I’m only human” (sense, this makes none.)) and… I could go on; my point being – it was all off-putting.

I had mentioned in a previous review this month that I seem to be reading a lot of romances lately, something I rarely do. Reading Without You reminded me why is it that I stopped reading romances in the first place.

Rating: 1/5

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