The Curse: A Book Review (And Welcoming 2019)

Hello Everyone. I know it has been a very long time since I posted. It seems like life and I are wrestling to have control on the schedule, and life keeps on winning. But the good news is that I am reading and writing again. That’s a big deal for me because the past one year felt like that words have turned into strangers. They won’t entice me in reading, and they won’t entice me in writing. I cannot explain the joy finding the words again.

So let us start 2019 in February with a book review  with a hope that I will be able to win future battles as well with life.

The Curse: A Dystopian Thriller

By Randeep Wadehra

Amazon

Goodreads

Available for Free on Kindle Unlimited

Blurb

Through peace, it’s justice we seek!
The hunter will meet the fate of the hunted
And the mighty will serve the meek!

Twenty years ago, a corrupt President, a greedy industrialist, and a sycophant policeman uprooted the tribal people from their own land and burned their houses. Twenty years later, the Republic of Bodh is in danger from a similar evil troika.

The curse uttered by a frail tribal woman during the carnage twenty years ago has inspired Jwaala, the only female leader in the senate, to reform the Republic of Bodh.

But the same curse has turned Saaya, once an innocent victim of the massacre, into a relentless killing machine with a mission to prey on the predators.
Even when the Republic spirals into a storm of scandals, the greedy and corrupt President Chaupat is torn between his lust for a dancer and his unrequited passion for his wife Kaamini.

Will Saaya succeed in his mission or will Chaupat thwart his efforts?
Will Jwaala, orphaned in a violent attack, be able to turn the curse for the greedy into a blessing for the poor? Will she succeed to save the Republic from another ensuing bloodshed?

The Curse is a gritty political thriller about people who have lost much to greed but want to transform their nation. 

Initially, I had no interest in this book, but when my friends started telling how this book was written so well, my interest was piqued. I picked this book only to see what was so good about it. I did not expect it to be an excellent read, however, the book proved me wrong. It even appealed to apolitical person like me.

This is the story of a dystopian world which is being ruled by Chaupat. The poor are getting poorer and the rich are getting richer. There are pockets of slums which government refused to recognize. The people living in these slums are considered dispensable. In such corrupt and oppressive society, there emerged our hero or heroes who want to change the system—some from inside and some by violence. It is an interesting book which you will want to read ahead to know about.

What I liked

  • Story in itself: Although it is not a very unpredictable story, it still manages to capture the interest of the readers by its details, language and writing style. There is a little suspense to the story, but I was able to guess that early on. Part of it was unanticipated, but it was such a hurried execution that I thought it more of a passing end than the big reveal itself.
  • Idea: The book is very relevant to current times. It talks about the things that are happening around me, the fears that I am truly afraid of at this time, and because of this, I could relate to it more.
  • Politically Impartial: The book actually considers as evil both the main party and opposition and hence stays clear of political partiality. Although some would say that there is a certain kind of partiality in declaring all parties as wrong as well, the book still felt impartial in its intake.

What I did not Like

  • Predictability: I have no idea how the author could have avoided the predictability, but I wish there was less of predictability in the story. I wanted to be taken up by surprise by the end. However, the only surprise sequence of the story was too short to garner any attention.
  • Names of the Characters: I think what adds to the above point is the names of the characters. For non-hindi speakers, this might not be an issue. But for hindi speakers, the names added to the predictability. Each name is the directly chosen to express what the characters role in the story is going to be. I understand finding such right names is difficult and must have been a difficult job for the author. But, I would have liked something subtler in these names—not this outright definition of how all the characters are going to be. This added to the predictability for me. Even though it felt like careful and deliberate selection by author, I could not enjoy that.
  • Ending: I have said this earlier as well, but the end sequence of the story—the one that was supposed to be the surprise—was not very well-executed. I wished it wasn’t the miss and blink kind of thing. I would have enjoyed the book more if that ending had appealed to me.

Overall Thoughts

Overall, the book is an interesting read. Those who want to read something about the political situation in the country (I do think this is applicable to many countries) will enjoy the story. It is written well and flows smoothly. The book is a short-read. For the people who have Indian KU subscription, the book is available free of cost.  

Overall Ratings

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Helpline- A Book Club Review

Helpline
by Uday Mane
 

The Blurb

Samir is suicidal. Rachael works for a suicide helpline. Fate connects them through a phone call. And so begins Samir’s story of love, longing, errors, regret and a girl who changed his life. As his story reaches its conclusion, Rachael will know the true reason behind his suicidal tendencies. But this suicide helpline is not any ordinary service. There is more to the mysterious and yet so convincing voice of Rachael. As this new mystery begins to unfold, Samir is going to discover three things: 

What is The Helpline?

Who is Rachael? 

What is Samir’s own identity? 

Every year, several teenagers in India attempt suicide because of failing relationships, dwindling careers, parental pressure or the competitive world. This story is about one such teenager, his early problems and the hurdles to cope with them. This story is about finding hope in the struggle. This story is about fighting for what you believe in and discovering your true identity. This is not a story about falling in love. This is a story of rising from a failed love story.

 
Buy @
 
First of all, let me tell you what attracted me towards this book. I have heard of so many people committing suicides and facing depression. A friend of mine suffered from depression because of her divorce. Now, she is better, but you can still see the ravaging effect this had on her. But most of all I was influenced by my ex-roommate. One of her school friends committed suicide, and I saw her questioning everything around her. She couldn’t understand how a girl she had known for twenty five years and had talked to two days ago could have hanged herself. She probed me if she wasn’t a trustworthy friend. She accused herself of not understanding her “deceased” friend. It has been three years since that incident, and I have been bothered by the subject since then.

I won’t say that I understand why people take this step because as per me killing yourself takes more courage than living, but then I have been fortunate to have a sheltered life. And that’s why such books pull me towards them. I just hope to find that glimpse of what forced that girl to commit suicide.

The book didn’t answer my question, neither did it offer a satisfactory ending to the change of heart, but it did take me to a world of a depressed protagonist, and it was an harsh world.

What I liked:

1) No Sugarcoating: As I said, my reason for selecting the book were not to search for a happy place, but to understand what a person can go through. The book doesn’t sugarcoat this thing. It tries to explain the nightmares, the addictions and the urge to kill. I am no authority to say whether those things are true or not, but I can only say that I felt for the protagonist.

2) Library book scene: I know this is a ridiculous thing to talk about in between such a subject, but I have it highlighted with hearts in my copy. The book has a scene in which protagonist uses book titles to express his feelings for his love. Look at the book titles used:

It happened one Autumn.

On the Night of the Seventh Moon.

A Smooth Talking Stranger.

A Beautiful Mind. Perfect.

It Had to be You.

Where Dreams Begin.

From This Day.

Love Story.

Nobody’s Baby But Mine.

Once and Always.

Dreaming of you.

I am Ok; You are Ok.

Everything is illuminated.

One Hundred Years of solitude.

For Better, For Worse, Forever.

Till Death do us apart.

Almost all the books are in my rainy-day book list. That made me quite happy. That also made me want to shift near to that library because libraries in Delhi holds antique books. Sadly the author didn’t give us the location of the library killing away the temptation to find a new job in Mumbai. 😉

What I didn’t like:

1) Editing: I feel like a hypocrite while writing this because of 1001 grammatical mistake I make in my blog, but I’m writing this review as a reader. The book needs another round of editing to tighten and eradicate small mistakes which are prevalent in the book.

2) Resolution: I have this quibble with almost everyone. The protagonist of the story finds the will to live in his past, bearing the pain valiantly. (Yes, he lives. No, this is not a spoiler.) I disagree with that portrayal even though many people, like the author, accepts this as their reason for change. I believe that every pain dulls with time. It is willing to rush away from us, provided we let it go. I didn’t enjoy the light that shines in protagonist’s eyes to show him the world around him. But then that can be only me. I am nobody to comment on how much pain a person can endure and what can bring a person back from the edge.

Final Thoughts

Before this turns into an essay, I’ll like to add my final thoughts: Even after those editing mistakes, it’s a book worth one read.

I don’t know whether it’s partially/fully based on author’s life or not; I won’t even write to him asking that because both yes and no will make me dissatisfied with the story, but I did “enjoy” this foray into a suicidal mind.

Meet the Author
Uday Mane was born in Pune and raised in Mumbai. He works as a marketing professional during the day and a storyteller during the night. He is an avid reader, and loves to collect classic books.

The Helpline is his debut novel that was launched in March 2014 at the hands of Padma Shri Paresh Rawal.

 
You can stalk him @
                  
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