Friday, 24 July 2015

BOOK REVIEW : THE AMERICAN GODS by NEIL GAIMAN


Hello people... Let's start this post with an interesting insight ( atleast from my point of view )....... Here's the thing: How important are the looks of the author while choosing a book to read??? Weird question huh!!! I disagree!!!
Looks of an author are as important as the storyline, the content, the characterisation, the flow of the story.. Trust me!!! Its a serious thought process and nothing to laugh about!!!!
I , for one, have been known in the past to choose a particular book because  the concerned author was good looking.. And I stand guilty for doing it even today......
Authors like John Grisham, Khaled Hosseini are such excellent storytellers and their good looks is just like the "cherry on the icing!!"....
And girls, you seriously can't deny this fact...
The recent addition to this club is Neil Gaiman - my favoured author of the season !!!! You have to check out his pictures to believe me.. He is NICE!!
And honestly this was the only reason I choose this book. I had never heard of this guy before and I downloaded this book on a whim.
I was in for a shock, when kindle shows me that this book "The American Gods" is of 10,000+ pages. I decided then and there that I am  going to skip through half the story and finish it in record time and that too only for Giaman's face...
Otherwise , me and read another big fat book after the Pamuk disaster..
 No Way!!!
The reality was way different from what I had presumed... I enjoyed this book so much that I did not want it to finish.. Instead of hurrying through the story I was taking it real slow, savouring its unique storyline but alas it all got over real fast!!!
Now that I have piqued your interest, let me tell you about its story....
Tell me something... Whether we are overly religious or not, we always carry our faith, our Gods with us to distant lands,  right... We carry them with us across the seas and oceans to protect us , to guide us in a new strange land with stranger customs amongst total strangers... With the passage of time, we become familiar and comfortable in the new land, till we start treating it like our own and eventually become one with those strangers and their customs, even accepting the new Gods...Now what happens to the Old Gods who had come with us, with our ancestors in this faraway land??? Do they continue living here, long forgotten by us or do they go back to their origin or do they perish in this new land uncared and unloved?
This is the premise of Neil Gaiman's book The American Gods.. It is a story about Gods and their survival.. Are they as human as we are??? Do they too need love, dedication, care and faith?? Or are they above it all??
It is a story of trust, betrayal, cunningness, love, faith and most importantly of a person who is good and has a pure heart...
Here in Gaiman's world, you have old Gods and new Gods. The old Gods are long forgotten by their believers and are living an almost non-existent life at the periphery. Some of them have accepted this cruel twist of time whereas there are some who are not willing to fade away without a good fight. Standing facing the old regime are the new Gods.. Gods of plastic money and bank and real estate and the media who are riding the high  wave!! As is the rule of nature there is a big gap between the 'have nots' and the 'haves' which leads to discontent and the beginning of a war: War of Gods!!
I am in love with Gaiman's imagination and am more than game to read his other books just to see how far he stretches the imagination of his readers!!!! 

Monday, 6 July 2015

BOOK REVIEW : SCION OF IKSHVAKU by AMISH



RAMAYANA : a tale by Valmiki which depicts the responsibilities, conduct and duties of an ideal person, living an ideal life in an ideal society.
Uffff.....So many "ideals" in one sentence itself!!
Seems like an impossible task to me...And moreover who defines IDEAL?? Everyone has their own definition of Idealism and as for society.. Frankly, most people care two hoots about what the society is up to!!!!
Coming back to the Ramayana, we all know its story and have read books on it and seen it being adapted into movies and drama series and even animated ones for children...
My first brush with Ramayana was on Doordarshan, in 1980's when Ram Gopal Sagar had made a drama series based on Valmiki's story...
And what a hit the series was.. You would not find anyone on the streets on Sunday mornings as people would be glued to their television sets watching Arun Govil playing Ram and Deepika playing Sita!!!!
As a result, funnily, till date the first image that comes to my mind when I think of Shri Ram is of Arun Govil, with his raised right arm, palms facing out, as in giving "aashirwaad", with a serene smile on his face!!!!!
Scion Of Ikshvaku is the latest book by Amish on the life and deeds of Shri Ram..
To be honest, I was not too enthused about this series as I, in all the arrogance of a so-called "seasoned reader", rationalised that there cannot be anything new to add to this well known story and that it will fall short of expectations!!!
But I was in for a surprise!!
This is the first book in the trilogy and it starts with the birth of Shri Ram upto the famous "Sita haran" scene or the kidnapping of Sita by Raavan.
It is a very interestingly written story which offers its readers a completely new take on many important incidents in the life of Shri Ram...
Starting with the birth of Ram, the reason behind the intense hatred between Ram and Raavan, Ram's formative years and his relation with his father, king Dashrath, the reason behind Ram's 14year exile, the story of Jatayu are all written from a completely new perspective, which is a delight and cliched though it sounds, makes one exclaim, " Its different!!"
I especially enjoyed the way Amish took care to explore Ram and Sita's relationship, right from their unconventional first meeting to their wedding and their conversations were Just Right!!
Amish has also made Sita to be a lady with spunk, wits, intelligence and a strong constitution. She is not just a sweet faced docile wife... But then this was expected as Amish always makes the female protagonists to be strong and a companion to their husbands, in every true sense...
King Dashrath is best known as the king of Ayodhya and the father of Shri Ram who dies alone without any of his sons around.. A very one dimensional character who has never been given much importance in any of the Ramayana adaptations....
But the surprise element (at least for me) was the way Amish has sketched the character of king Dashrath. He is shown here as a man who attacks his enemy without any prior planning but only to satisfy his hurt ego and pride. A man who ignores his son during his formative years blaming him for all his failures but turns a full 180° when he realises that his name will become immortal as the father of the next Vishnu throughout history.... A truly selfish man, as Queen Kaykeyi once accused him to be!!!!
There are those who strongly criticise Amish and his storytelling and the subjects which he chooses...
Yes I do agree that he does use a certain style in crafting his stories, which initially seems brilliant but after three books, it does have a " I know what is going to happen" feel but at no point does it make the book boring.
I for one enjoyed the story very much and thanks to Amish have started to respect and admire the principles which Ram stood for and sincerely hope for the other books in the trilogy to be equally entertaining..
Jai Shri Ram!!!