Friday, January 13, 2023

BARABANKI: The Professor, the Pandit and the Policeman by Anuj Tiwari (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


3rd Book of 2023


It is almost 1.25 decade since I am reading books. There are few authors whom I am reading right since their 1st book and seeing their progression with content and subjects with each book. One of them is definitely Anuj Tiwari who has just released his 5th book named “Barabanki”. It is published in around 185-pages by Rupa publications. The book also has a tagline which says “The Professor, the Pandit and the Policeman”. The story basically revolves around these three characters in a thrilling concept where right in the beginning of the book, a student dies in mysterious condition at the Indian Engineering college located in Lucknow. And from here begins investigation which revolves around these and many other important characters named Raghav and Jayanti. This is the 1st time Anuj has attempted a thriller and I am glad he experimented at the right time.


The book is nicely sectioned into different chapters which makes our experience easier as you can easily pace your reading accordingly. Author has not complicated the story by making it switch into different timelines or going through unwanted narration – as it’s generally done in the thriller books. As obvious from the 185-pages length, the writing is crisp and focuses on the main plot. The location of Barabanki and the whole aesthetics around it and Lucknow is wonderfully utilized. Though there could have been a lot being done with the locale but still, author manages to make you understand people belonging from the region. The use of religious topics in conversation between characters makes you interested in how it is going to be related with the situation the characters are in.


The characterization and the small romantic angle between Raghav and Jayanti are very beautifully handled – which I believe is author’s strength point too. Anuj has been quite vocal about the religious angle in the book for which I must applaud him for not talking in whispering voice but spoke what needed to be spoken. There are many such instances where you can relate the sub-plots with many things which we hear in news everyday from the region of Uttar Pradesh. Hence, the book sounds realistic.


Now talking about the thrilling aspect, I must say how the three different cases are interlinked together is really interesting. The backstory of Jayanti’s father really adds up flavour to the story. The camaraderie between Awasthi and Naveen is superb and hilarious. There are many places which will make you giggle. Author’s research on how police department and legal sections work in our country is commendable. Unfortunately, you guess the culprit too soon in this thriller which takes away the charm of the climax. It only leaves for you to understand how exactly things took place but you already know the mastermind behind them. That’s the only thing I wish author could have worked more or the editor from the publishing side could have helped in reframing the narration of the story.


Overall, this is a light thriller and you can enjoy it while traveling or if you are new to the genre. I give the book a fine attempt 3.5 stars out of 5. Author has also given a clue in the end that there might be 2nd part of this story releasing soon. So let’s see how story further unfolds.






Friday, January 6, 2023

The Lost World by Pranay Bhalerao (Book Review: 3.5*/5) !!!


2nd Book of 2023


Last month, I had read Pranay Bhalerao’s latest release named “The Protectors of Kavaach” which is Book 1 of a trilogy that he is working upon. I loved his narration and thought of giving chance to his earlier works and got his “The Lost World” duology purchased from Amazon. I just completed reading the first book named “The Lost World” which is of around 210-odd pages. I found some similarities in terms of how Pranay crafts a story – basically where he loves playing with two different timelines and leaving some commonalities in both of them which merges the characters and situations. This book is majorly based in the aesthetics of forestation where a tribe is being discussed which is evil for the modern man but has done nothing wrong as such.


While reading the story, every time you read about the tribe section, you find yourself sitting between the forest amidst tall trees. This is how beautifully author has created his world around the theme. The book has lot of characters and the way they have been given specific detailing helps you understand their persona well. I have a problem with the way characters are named that some names sound similar. On the same lines, even the name of the protagonist- Apoorav is hard to read every time you are reading the book loudly. These are just small concerns but makes a big impact in the reading experience. Otherwise, the characterization is good and the way they think and behave being from different set-ups is nicely described. You are able to distinguish the black and white characters easily. Similarly, you are able to identify when a character turns grey and changes sides.


The story keeps running in two timelines- 1980 and 2001. Author is able to convey the difference between how the world has changed within two decades itself. The whole gangster scenario of 1980 with the character of Vishnu has been nicely described where they want to rule each and every person around them. I just wish if author could have not named the villain as Vishnu. Well, am I getting too sensitive these days? Ok, let’s move on. 😐 The impact of the kind of damage tribe had to suffer in 1980 gets refreshed when a new set of challenges arise again in 2001 and they are confused if they should trust Apoorav or not- an outsider who has got stuck with them having blur memory of his past.


Without being preachy, Pranay has been able to talk upon the topics of how the original ecosystem of the planet is being disturbed for the greed of modernization. How human beings have turned selfish to think only about themselves is demonstrated at many instances. The depletion of forestation and the internal fight that keeps happening with the people staying there or nearby with the institutions or powerful gangs is narrated throughout the story. How the innocence of tribal people is demonstrated as devilish to serve the selfish purposes makes you feel so bad for these people living in their own world without causing trouble to the world outside. The benefits of Ayurveda etc. is also given prominence through conversations between the characters.


The chapters are kept short which makes it easy for you to travel back and forth in the timeline. The language is easy which makes the book a good pick for beginners who wishes to read a simple book but with a thrilling story. The pre-climax and climax are nicely written which is also quite difficult to grasp due to its fast-paced narration but author’s intention to give you adrenaline rush before ending the book to keep your excitement up for the Book 2 is evident. I somehow felt that I was watching a South-Indian movie in the way the characters and the conversations among them are defined. The whole forest section made me imagine it in the cinematic representation as displayed in Kantara and Push movie. This made the story little more exciting for me. Haha!


Now, talking about the drawbacks – I must say that the story is narrated just like a story without giving any depth to any character. Few characters such as Apoorav, Naina and Ramtirtha could have been given good depth. The romantic angle of the book could have had few very interesting chapters as a man from tribal world falls in love with a girl from the modern world. It is completely left unexplored. Similarly, there was so many human emotions which could have been given prominence while describing how a character reflects upon a difficult situation as there were many opportunities in the twists-and-turns of this story. But I think author didn’t think from this perspective at all and remained focused only upon how the story needs to move ahead.


Overall, this is a good read. I give the book 3.5 stars out of 5. I am going to read the next book in this duology very soon to know what eventually happens with the characters.






Tuesday, January 3, 2023

An Imperishable Promise by Sarathi Sabyasachi Sahoo (Book Review:3.25*/5) !!!


1st Book of 2023


Well, it feels sad to see the Reading counter set to 1 after finishing another book. It’s a new year and the resolution stands to be the same to read 36 books by the end of it. Thankfully, the very 1st book has got finished within the first two days of the year itself giving some positive vibes aready. I am done reading Sarathi Sabyasachi Sahoo’s 2nd book named “An Imperishable Promise” which also comes with a tagline- “If Afterlife Is True, Will You Still Come To Me?”. Initially, I thought that the book must be a simple romantic tale comprising of falling in love and then getting apart and eventually coming together after realizing the vacuum in each other’s life but thankfully, author tried implementing a new concept about what happens when one among the two lovers dies. Does the love also end with it or as we call people in love – soulmates – are their souls till connected with each other?


In the start of the book, author has given tribute to Siddharth Shukla who expired suddenly which was a shock to the nation. It seems that the story also got its seed from the same where Sarathi must have thought what happens to the love story a young person is involved in which ends up being incomplete. The book is of just 150-odd pages so it will not take much time to finish. I could read it in a single evening itself. The 1st half is all about how people initially get infatuated to a person and ask help from a friend to ensure that they are able to initiate some conversation with that beautiful personality. Here, there is a small twist that happens where the match happens between two completely different personalities. But love takes them ahead and their bond just keeps getting better each day. Finally, one of them doesn’t survive a road accident. From here starts, the main concept around which this book has been created.


The writing style of author is quite simple hence everyone who are in their college or just want to get into reading can start with this book easily. The characters are defined and discussed properly which helps you imagine their persona and relate with them easily. The book has also been kept very upto-the-point which helps it in not getting stretched unnecessarily. There are no over-descriptions or unwanted narrations. Author has also ensured that the book is written without any sensuous scenes which will make it easy for you to gift it to your younger siblings or family members.


The best part of the book is the pre-climax when a twist arises which changes the whole set-up of what you were reading until then. I must applaud author for thinking something unique out of this plot and giving it a thrilling touch rather than keeping it simple. Author also tries to send a message across regarding how deeply we get attached with people and can’t move on even after their death. The book speaks about how it can become a disadvantage not only to our mental health but also to the spirit of the soul which has left the body. It is quite deep but I hope readers will be able to reach the conclusion or moral of the story and implement it in their life itself.


Now, talking about the drawbacks, I must say that the command over the language seemed to be an issue with the author as every sentence seems to be a translation from a regional language to English. Also, author keeps the conversation or body language of his characters quite limited or negligible due to which there is no emotion felt while they are crying, sad, laughing or even dying. It’s just a plain read-up at times. Secondly, I must say that there was a great scope of bringing many spiritual and philosophical theories in the 2nd half of the book and make it more informative as well but it seems author went ahead with whatever he could think rather than building more upon it by researching on this topic a lot more.


Overall, this book is good for beginners. Co-incidentally, a new year has begun and you can start your reading resolution with this book. I give it 3.25 stars out of 5.






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