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August 7, 2014

Book Review - 170 : Bubble Wrap

Author : Kalyani Rao
Publisher : Harlequin

When twelve-year-old Krishna marries Shyam Singh of Rokhagadh, her grandmother gives her a box filled with jewelry, telling her to sell it in times of trouble, but otherwise to hide it from her parents and in-laws. Krishna's marital home is very different from the house she grew up in - she is not allowed to go to school, but has a female tutor coming home to teach her once a week. She soon learns that her father-in-law, a drunkard and a lecher, who is not above carrying on with a maidservant, is deeply in debt and expects her father to help him out. 

Krishna's fifteen-year-old widowed cousin, Gudiya, accompanies her to Rokhagadh, but is ill-treated by Krishna's in-laws, culminating in her rape by Krishna's father-in-law, on Diwali night. When Krishna's father learns of this, he wants to take both girls away immediately, but dies soon after, in a mysterious "accident" and Gudiya finds herself pregnant.
The Singhs are willing to help her, provided it is a male child. If she is carrying a female child, she will have to abort. Krishna's and Gudiya's responses to the death of the former’s father; their refusal to knuckle under to the Singhs; their decision to fight for their survival against impossible odds and to stand by each other forms the crux of the book

The biggest problem with Bubble wrap is that it is far too predictable. Many will relate this book to the serial  Balika Vadhu but frankly that is it's least problems. Apart from the two main protagonists, none of the characters are particularly developed well. There is flatness in writing and at times, too bland and hardly creates any pulsating moment. Everything including the set-up, the running away, the stopping, the chase - happen in slow frames which as a reader hardly gives you anything to relate with these characters situation. All men are bad in this world but what forces their evil intentions is never explained to us.

It is not that writing is bad, far from it but the construction of the premise leaves you dazzled. The diary pages written by Krishna stuck out like sore thumb because it never flows genuinely with the main story. These flashbacks stand and eventually fall apart alone and as a narrative device do not add to anything to make us understand the tribulations of Krishna. The climax is shocking but that's probably the only intention because the details are never explained nor the situation fully sold to the readers.

I am going with 2/5 for Kalyani Rao's 'Bubble Wrap'. Even if you revel in the familiar stories and set up, it is difficult to like this one. One can just hope that the sincerity of the writing translates into something better from the writer in the next book.

August 1, 2014

Book Review - 169 : The Deliberate Sinner

Author : Bhaavna Arora
Publisher : Srishti Publishers & Distributors

Good intentions don't necessarily make into good books and we have seen that far too often ever since pulp fiction has evolved in the Indian literary scene. The Deliberate sinner focus so much on feminism and celebrating female sexuality that it forgets the most basic rule in a book - to tell a story. The conflicts seem confused and are bounced off every time from the lens of feminism only to appear more shallow and cringe worthy.

Rihana is an adventurous and free-spirited girl, until she marries Veer, an eligible bachelor who comes from a wealthy family. While they appear 'happily married', their strong personalities are at odds. Veer, for the most part, is insensitive to Rihana's physical and emotional needs, straining the relationship and leaving her feeling incomplete. Caught between the two extremes, she has to decide whether to walk out of her marriage and be a victim of society's ridicule, or compromise of her physical needs, which for her are the foundation for a healthy marital bond.

The book is projected as non-satisfaction of women desires in bed but the story takes hardly that route. Instead, it takes too many detours in the form of physical abuse, extra marital affair, dowry and so on. There is too much emphasis and stress on reaching orgasm which seems to be the end and mean of the sexual relationship and the author takes it too far by allowing it to be discussed by other ladies in the house. Someone needs to tell the author that having sex and not having an orgasm every time is humanly acceptable!

Bouncing off an eye-catching cover, the love making scenes and good and bad in equal proportions. Some will pique your interest, some are flat boring even though the climax (pun unintended) scene will take you by surprise. The book tries to grapple with too many serious subjects, in the end not doing justification to any of them. The story never grows beyond the cliches and stereotypes and in the end is a half-hearted attempt in what could have been a decent read had the author concentrated on a concrete story line.

I am going with 2.5/ 5 for Bhaavna Arora's 'The deliberate Sinner'. Read for some strong feminist sentiments but there is hardly anything in the book to take all of that seriously. A one-time read.