Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book Review: Life's Like That

Sometimes you come across a book which turns you on with its cover, excites you with the blurb and promises you an exciting journey. A part of them manage to do that in the end, while the rest fall short of achieving the desired effect. ‘Life’s Like That’ (LLT), by Prashant V. Shrivastava falls into the latter category.

The novel has all the elements required of a mass seller book. Campus life, check. Love-angle, check. Youth dilemmas, check. Lessons about life, check. Pretty much everything is packed, but then where does it lack? A very loose structuring and narration stifles the goodness out of this book, coupled with too-big-to-go-unnoticed grammatical and editing mistakes. I felt sad to see them throughout the book.

LLT is a story about four friends, Preeti, Amit, Ishita and Sankalp. These four are joined by two other, Niharika and Rahul, as the story proceeds. The story is set in Udaipur, Rajasthan and uses some of the landmarks in the city to set some really important sequences. The college life and love life of Preeti-Amit, Ishita-Sankalp and Niharika-Rahul are interplayed alternatively and after a point the story starts to drag too much. Then the ending feels rushed. There’s quite a lot which could have been removed to get a tighter, nicer flowing story. This one failed to keep me glued.

A lot of effort has gone in explanation, to spell out the visuals, to explain the scene which sometimes went overboard to the verge of sounding desperate. The characters are explained mostly through their interaction with each other and each of them has a different outlook towards life. The book is light overall with not much melodrama, and love-scenes interspersed at frequent intervals. One of the things I liked about the story was the carefully planted social messages of women empowerment and education. I think that’s a wonderful thing to do with a story when you have the power to influence a large section of the society.
The love story of Preeti-Amit takes center-stage in the story, and forms the crux as the blurb informs. But the climax starts and ends within the last 50 pages of the 221 paged book, which roughly stands at just around twenty three percent of the total book. The rest was just college life, story progression and confusion.

For me the book had an idea, but lacked focus. The content is severely hampered with the grammar and punctuation mistakes throughout the book, which is unforgivable and leaves a bad-taste.

I feel quite disappointed, mostly because this book had me expecting a lot from the brief I read and the introduction I got to the story and characters. But then, life’s like that.

Book: Life's Like That
Author: Prashant V. Shrivastava
Publisher: Blackbuck Publication
Price: Rs. 150

Monday, December 2, 2013

Book Review: A Country For Men

The current socio-political turmoil in India has large fields of stories to be cultivated.  And when I say India, I talk about the whole nation in general. Many social evils hold down the progress of our country, as it tries to cross the threshold of becoming a superpower. To overcome those limitations, awareness is indispensable. ‘A Country for Men’ (ACFM) by Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon is one such brave attempt.

ACFM talks about the contemporary issue of women empowerment and throws light on the dark practices prevalent in our society. The book is an anthology of news-pieces mixed with the opinion of the author. The peg for the book is told to be the Delhi Gangrape of December 16, 2012.

The book expresses the frustration of an average Indian youth about all the negativity which binds us, of all the encaged emotions dismissed as taboo. In retrospective, talking about rape and sexual harassment was considered a taboo. Channels were switched and pages flipped. Status quo was priceless.

But a price had to be paid someday. Hundreds and thousands of women in India pay that price everyday. Silence is golden they are taught and ignorance bliss. But till when has to one bear all this, and to what extent? Jadon raises some very interesting points in his book. “It’s the very same (Indian) culture we brag about; this culture is the reason for unfair treatment towards the women,” he says in the book.

The book dissects the whole notion of treating women as goddess in the Indian society. I remember reading somewhere in the book, “Only goddesses are revered as goddesses.” The book has an almost angry narration. You feel the angst and pain as you turn the page; More so, when some of the gruesome incidents in recent Indian history, are quoted.

A lot of statistics and media reports are quoted in the book which shows the extensive research behind the book. I appreciate Jadon for taking up such a task and building it to a satisfactory level. The book enlightened me, and I hope other readers will also take something from this book.

Having said that, and with all the positivity for the book and the cause it talks about, I had some hiccups while reading this book. The book has an interesting collection of information but it feels too much all over the place. The book is divided in chapters, yet the contents seem to transgress into each other. The repetition of facts, though emphasizes the point, greatly reduces the flow of the narration. Then there are spelling errors and grammatical mistakes on most of the pages which upset my reading to a large extent. It could have been a brilliant product overall, only if there had been a tighter, crisper writing and editing.

Jadon has chosen a daring topic to pen his thoughts on. Most of the people today would fall short of words, or rather choose not to speak, on issues pertaining to sexual harassment. But the truth is that it’s still a menacing evil, lurking around on roads, offices, schools and homes. We need to realize the importance to sensitize people about gender issues, to raise voices against sexual violence. It is time to stop paying the price to be a girl. It is time to be free and equal. The fragility of our social system needs some strict reforms and I hope this book is a step towards that reality, which we can proudly call beautiful. 

Book: A Country For Men
Author: Rohit Kumar Singh Jadon
Publisher: Blackbuck Publication
Price: Rs. 130