IQR Challenge 2013

I have uploaded more than 40 reviews so far


Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 days with Veerappan by Krupukar and Senani

Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 days with Veerappan by Krupukar and Senani

Birds, Beasts and Bandits: 14 Days with Veerappan is the experience of Krupukar and Senani, two wildlife film-makers. This book was originally in Kannada and was translated by S.R.Ramakrishna.
In 1994, the authors come to Bandipur to begin a long term study of wild dogs and make a documentary on them. They build a house adjoining the forest and live there. They are mistaken to be highly paid Government officials by Veerappan and Co and are kidnapped by them. He cannot pronounce their names correctly and calls Senani, Sheni and Krupakar, Krupa. He speaks more to Senani because, of the two, he can converse better in Tamil. They are made to walk in the forest and more people are abducted.
In the forest, they discuss about birds, wildlife, governments, police and jungle experiences. They realize that Veerapan has an in depth knowledge of forests and wildlife. He can interpret the language of the forest and animal calls and has the sensitive grasp of a great writer.
The hostages were fed the unchanging menu of rice and saaru twice a day and his gang would feed the captives first without eating themselves. They would even try to give them some meat at times. They develop familiarity with the gang and are sad to leave them on being and try to postpone the departure.
The book was funny at times, like Krupakar using a spark lighter to light a gas stove fascinates both Veerappan and his guards; the ‘strong’ tea prepared by his men; the description of hornbill and Veerapans mimicking of the animal hunts.
It made me realize that Veerappan was after all a human being just like you and me. He also had his likes and dislikes. He had curiosities; fascination and belief in God. He had his own fears and his own justification for what he was. He was proud of his ‘name’ and anxious about his reputation.
It is a very interesting book. Especially, the narrative style, with the name of the narrator is mentioned at the beginning of the paragraph. The book keeps you hooked till the very end.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Penguin India

The Backbenchers: 3 days of Summer by Sidharth Oberoi

The Backbenchers: 3 days of Summer by Sidharth Oberoi

This is the third book in the Backbencher Series, and I happened to buy it seeing the cover, which is different from the other books that we read. I have not read the previous two books of the series and so when I sat down to read this book, I did not know what to expect.

The blurb:
Ananya has never been to Summer camp before and that’s exactly what school seems to be offering this time.
And not just that – they are offered the chance to undergo a hands on workshop with India’s leading authority on digital photography.

Natasha- eager to rediscover herself, signs up too. The boys join in on the fun and the expedition is led by a young, vibrant new teacher.

But things never are what they appear to be- and it soon turns out that their teacher has her own hidden agenda behind the workshop. An eccentric genius photographer tries to play the kids against each other and they find themselves square in the face of danger, in a tropical rainforest, nonetheless. In the midst of that action, Yuvraj and Ananya cross a new threshold in their relationship.

Will it last? Will they prove their mettle when their ability to work as a team is questioned?

Join the unbeatable, indomitable backbenchers in a trip right across the country and gaze into the wild through their docile, yet remarkably vivid lenses.

The review:
The story is about class XII students of Presidency Convent, a premiere school in Delhi on Barakhamba Road. Their new Senior Wing English teacher, Mitali Roy, after discussion with the Senior School Headmistress wants to enroll five kids, whose parents have given consent to the trip, for a field trip to Masinagudi, in the rainforests of Tamil Nadu for a photography project under the mentorship of Sanjib Desai, a highly awarded and recognized photographer. Finally, four students accompany her on the field trip- Ananya, Yuvraj, Natasha and Shreya.
Anaya is a simple human being who likes being happy. Yuvraj is preparing to crack the JEE or SAT. Natasha is a rich girl, who thinks only of herself and Shreya, Natasha’s best friend, plans to complete Great Expectations in this trip.

Before they set out, they receive some instructions for the camp and also a riddle with a very attractive prize. They reach Chennai and meet Abhinav from Doon Academy for Boys, who is to travel with them to Singara from where they would be taken to the cottage where they would be staying. There they meet Urvashi Nambiar from Good Shepherd International School at Ooty.

Next morning, the camp starts and the adventure begins.

The book has been written well but the author has repeated the description of Masinagudi many times.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Grapevine

The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amish Tripathi

The Oath of the Vayuputras by Amih Tripathi

After finishing both the first books of the Shiva’s Trilogy, I was very keenly wanting for the third because I wanted to know what happens in the end. I even pre-ordered it so that I could start reading it with the rest of the country.

In this book, Shiva meets Brahaspati at the Naga capital of Panchavati and comes to know about Somras and its ill effects on the people of India. Using the waters of Saraswati to manufacture Somras resulting in the depletion of the river’s water and the waste generated being dumped in Tsangpo river leading to plague. Shiva declares a holy war on Meluha and asks people to stop drinking the Somras. Parvateshwar tells Shiva that though he believes in him, he is loyal to his country.

All the kingdoms choose their side. Shiva’s side comprises of the Nagas, the Brangas and the Vasudevs. The Swadweepan emperor Dilipa sides with the Meluhan King, Daksha. Shiva captures the city of Mrittikavatti and makes the citizens imprison the Meluhan army led by Vidyunmali. Shiva leaves for Pariha with Gopal to procure the deadly Brahmastra weapon, to threaten the Meluhans for peace with them. The chief of Vayuputras, Mithra, convinces the Vayuputras that Shiva is the real Neelkanth and gives him the Pashupathiastra which acts on a specific target. Parvateshwar baits Kali into leaving the entourage to save Panchavati.

Daksha gets Egyptian assassins to kill Shiva and Sati fights the assassins valiantly. The war ends and an enraged Shiva decides to use the Pashupatiastra to finish Devagiri forever along with the Somras manufacturing units.

To start with, since it was more than a year after I had read the first two books, I had to go back to relate to who’s who. Then I thought of the Wikipedia, and took a print out of the list of characters to help me relate to them. There were parts in the book which were sad and parts where I felt that the violence was way too much. This book was too long; the story dragged and thus, was a big disappointment after the first two, the series ended with a bad taste in the mouth.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Westland

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri

When I saw the new book by Jhumpa Lahiri, I was tempted to buy it. But I felt that it might just land up on my bookshelf, like all her other books, without being read. Why? Because, I had neither the time nor the inclination to read them, maybe because I felt they would be very serious books being nominated for various prizes. Anyways, I ordered “The Lowland” and when I saw it, I said, I must read it and I did.

The Back Cover:
Two brothers bound by tragedy.
A fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past.
A country torn by revolution.
A love that can last long past death.

The review:
Subhash and Udayan Mitra are two brothers, fifteen months apart, Subhash being the older one. The story starts when Subhash is thirteen. Their father is a clerk in the Indian Railways and they live in Calcutta very close to the Tolly Club and sneak in there at dusk after the golfers have left. Since childhood, Subhash is the cautious one while Udayan was the active one. They look similar, have similar voices and wear clothes from the same pile, thus confusing others. They study in the same class in the same school but attend different colleges, Subhash studying chemical engineering and Udayan, physics. After post-graduation, they start tuitions to help in the family income. Udayan gets drawn by the Naxalite movement and is satisfied with an ordinary occupation but Subhash goes to America to do his PhD and supports his. They write to each other rarely and Subhash comes to know that Udayan has married Gauri against their parents’ wishes.

He comes back to India after his brother’s death and as the dutiful son and brother, marries Gauri, to protect her and brings her back to Rhode Island. He gives her freedom to do as she desires. She has a daughter, Bela, with whom Subhash feels the same closeness with Bela, which he felt with Udayan. Gauri is selfish and indifferent as a mother. She studies philosophy and is more protective towards her manuscript than her own daughter.

Subhash comes to visit his mother, after his father’s death, with Bela, who is now twelve. When he comes back, his world changes and so does his life.

My View:
The author has referred more than seventy years of the life of Subhash Mitra, as a baby, a young boy, a responsible son, brother, husband and father. The protagonists change as the book proceeds, first it is Subhash, then Gauri and then their daughter, Bela. The relationship between the brothers has been depicted beautifully as has the Indian-American immigrant experience. I felt for Subhash, the father, who loves Bela despite everything and for Bela, who suffers, for no fault of her.

A very serious piece of literature, deeply emotional; no wonder it was nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2013.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Vintage Books/ Random House India

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi

The Secret of the Nagas by Amish Tripathi is the second book in the Shiva Trilogy and I started reading it as soon as I finished with the first one. As soon as I started reading the book, I wanted to know if Sati was safe in the hands of the Naga.

Shiva wants to take revenge against the Nagas, who, he thinks, have killed Brihaspati, and reaches Kashi in order to reach them. They travel to the Branga Kingdom, whose king is Chandraketu, to gather more information about the Nagas because, they find a Branga coin left behind by the Nagas. The entourage comprises of General Parvateshwar, Nandi and Veerbhadra, Ayurvati, and Bhagirath and Anandamayi, the prince and princess of Ayodhya.

Shiva travels to Branga and Sati stays back at Kashi to help the King, where she is assisted by the Naga soldiers in killing the Lions. The Nagas are humans with physical deformities who have been abandoned because the Suryavanshi law states so. They have their own kingdom, own set of laws. After various battles, they reach Panchavati, the capital of the Naga territory, which is a secret and discover that the Naga Queen is Sati’s twin sister Kali who was abandoned by their father because she was disfigured and had been taken away by the Nagas, same was the case with Ganesh, Sati’s son.

In Branga, Shiva meets Parshuram, who is a bandit and knows the secret recipe of a medicine. He comes back to Kashi and meets Kali and Ganesh, the Naga who he thinks is the killer of Brihaspati.

The language and the flow is good and so is the suspense. The book is fast paced and the way one chapter ends, one feels that let me move to the next chapter to see whether it takes off from where the first one ended.

If you have liked the Immortals of Meluha, the Secret of the Nagas is a must read to kill the suspense created there. The trilogy would not be complete without reading ‘The Oath of the Vayuputras’.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Westland

The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

The Immortals of Meluha by Amish Tripathi

In ‘The Immortals of Meluha’, Amish Tripathi potrays Lord Shiva, Nandi and various other mythological characters as mortal human beings.

The book starts with Shiva and his fellow Gunas leaving their homeland and in search of safety and shelter and come to Meluha. On the way they are injured and are nursed to health by Ayurvati and her team. They are administered the Somras and after that Shiva’s throat turns blue and he is addressed as the Neelkanth – or the man with ‘blue throat’.

The Meluhans call themselves the Suryavanshis, followers of the Sun God, and believe in the Neelkanth. They also believe that it is “He” who would help them win over the Chandravanshis, the followers of the Moon God, of Swadeep, with whom they are war over their sacred river ‘Saraswati’. The Chandravanshis have a secret alliance with a cursed and disfigured group called Nagas, masters of martial arts.

King Daksha and his prime minister, Kanakhala, believe in him and only his lieutenant, Parvateshwar has his doubts. Shive falls in love with Sati, King Daksha’s daughter and they get married and have a son Kartikeya.

The main plot revolves around the battle between the Suryavanshis and the Chandravanshis and the terrorist attacks from the Nagas.

The book has mythology, garnished with romance and adventure. It is slow initially and as the plot deepens, so does the involvement in the book. Then it becomes gripping and then the story ends leaving you in suspense.

What do you do next? You want to get hold of the next book on the Trilogy ‘The Secret of the Nagas’ as soon as you can. I did just that.

Book Source: Bought
Publisher: Westland