Book Audits: “Incognito: Mythos, Logos & an Enigma called Love” by Praveer

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I’m really disappointed that this book wasn’t a hit. Such an awesome concept, despite what the cover page might have you believe. I was also really surprised that this was a debut. It’s about the conflict between science and religion, with an underlying story of a conflict about the right way of religion.
The author tried to emulate Dan Brown with Indian mythology (that’s the impression I got. All the major ingredients of Brown’s book are present: a symbologist, a falsely accused main character, two age old institutions fighting each other etc.) and was halfway there.
I enjoyed reading the book, revisiting a few the mythological stories and even learning something new. I liked the thought process of the characters and certain deductions. The use of Punya’s past events to nudge the main characters in the right direction was also good. That gave the author a chance to explore Punya’s love story. The author did a very good job in both the love story and the current treasure hunt. Maybe ‘hunt’ was not the correct word as it was mostly brainstorming by the main characters and not action packed fights and chases (that’s fine with me).
The love saga between Punya and Dhrishti was very good. Especially the chapter 27 (Punya’s mail to Dhrishti) was my favorite and resonated a lot with my experience.

All those good points aside, this book got a very sloppy editor or none at all. There were so many spelling and grammatical errors that I had to make an effort to continue reading. Sometimes Punya was referred to as ‘her’ and Vaidehi as ‘him’. (I don’t blame the author for this because English is not the first language for us Indians, but it’s the duty of the editor to get rid of errors.) I mentioned
There were places where connectivity was missing. Like how did the villain know what Punya and Vaidehi discussed?
The major issue was that villain didn’t get enough time. He hardly appeared for two chapters but was supposedly a mastermind behind the whole plot. He lacked conviction which prevents the reader from connecting with him. A proper handling of this character would have boosted the plot a lot, especially since the bad guys and good guys fall in a morally gray area with a potential of both being right in their beliefs. Instead, the villain spouts some hateful dialogues and wants to destroy something for arbitrary reasons.
And the most annoying thing (for me) was the use of single quotes. The author had a lot of and very good quotable sentences. In fact, too many. And for some reason, he felt the need to point each and every one of them out by using single quotes. As a reader, I find that highly distracting. It’s like you are watching a movie and the narrator is sitting beside you, talking to you in between about his insights into love, life, society and other bazillion things, sometimes rolling his (or her) eyes. It was like footnotes in a textbook but placed in between the text. No offense to anyone; they were good, deep and thoughtful.
Okay, it would’ve been fine if it was just that. But the author also used single quotes to tell the reader the thoughts of characters. Highly confusing. It’s sometimes very difficult to understand whether it’s the character thinking or the narrator talking to you.
And why did Mridul come in? What did his character accomplish?
In some places, the storytelling seemed a bit forced rather than a free flow. But I discount him that.
I’m not deriding the author. I can’t write a book like this. I just mentioned these so that he (or anyone else) might learn from this about how readers think. Especially since the climax sort of indicates the possibility of a sequel. I’m just angry and sad that such a good concept wasn’t utilized/appreciated properly. I’m giving 4 stars for his effort and thought, and I don’t want to drag down the rating.
And I’m looking forward to reading his next book.

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Book Audits: 03:02 by Mainak Dhar

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Definitely a goodread. I’m so glad that the author had chosen something other than the cliched  zombies or epidemics for this book.

The story narration was so engrossing that I was able to seamlessly step into the shoes of the main character. I didn’t even read the blurb for the fear of spoilers and it was worth it. The beginning had just the right amount of pace and suspense so as to keep the reader intrigued. 

The story was a very good blend of action, emotion, love (not romance). There were moments when my blood boiled, my eyes rained, my heart raced with fright and ached with a pang of jealousy and pain of loss. The absence of steamy, hot scenes accentuates the author’s confidence in the story to tie down readers.

This might be one of the reasons I was able to connect with this book so much: as a child (even in my engineering), whenever a class was boring, I would venture off into my imagination where a group attacks our class and I would fight them heroically. That is what the main character did in this book.

Some may say that the protagonist having so many resources was not realistic. But let me tell you this, if he didn’t have them, the book would’ve ended before it even began. And I was engrossed enough to not bother questioning the veracity of the technical details mentioned and that’s what I care about ultimately.

What really bugged me after completing the book was what happened to suri. He filled in for the antagonist for the first half and dropped off the radar after that.

And one thing I really liked about this story was the protagonist didn’t carry the whole burden of carrying the story forward it even for that matter, ending it, thereby not needing to break out of the reasonable reality of a fictitious story.

Book Audits – The Bachelor of Arts

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A wonderful read. I felt close to the plot than many other stories I have read. RK Narayan wrote stories that are closer to the hearts of common people.
Literature reflects the norms of the contemporary society. From Narayan’s story, I gather that the human nature didn’t change between then and now, but some societal customs had changed. For example, youngsters were rebellious even then and child marriages are curbed now. Although this was not my first encounter with child marriage, I’m surprised by the callous reality ( 😛 ) of the situation (maybe I should talk to my grandparents more often) since I witnessed it through Narayan’s words.
Narayan made me fall in love, broke my heart and then made me fall in love again. That is ultimately the distilled message of the story. This also made me realize the veracity in his words: “If people didn’t read stories, they wouldn’t know there was such a thing as love”. Even his words about friendship were and are true.
The struggle of a college student to complete the syllabus for exams and his distractions, the plight of orthodox parents of a lovestruck youth, the strife of a heartbroken lover, his reinvention as a man and falling in love again, and many more emotions and relations were written elegantly and succinctly. Kudos to Narayan.