Review: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

I do not obsess over zombie films. However if a movie us particularly good, then I will make a point to watch it. One such movie that I did end up watching couple of months ago on the TV was World War Z. I did enjoy watching this take on the movie, and ended up reading some reviews of it. It was during this search that I came to know that the movie is based on the book by Max Brooks. The full name of the book is “World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War”.

Freshly having finished a different book, I was itching to get into another one. Few moments later, I was ready with it on my kindle. After the first 3 chapters, I began to lose my interest in the book. You see I had based my frame of reference on the movie. The book and movie are nothing alike. Zilch. The movie follows the plot about a zombie apocalypse from Brad Pitt’s character being the central character. The book however, is entirely different. It is (as the title says) an oral history of the war on zombies. I will cover this review in two aspects: The (long) synopsis, and the review.

 

The narrator had been asked to prepare a report for the UN, but his supervisor found the report to be too human and opinionated and has only the facts and figures submitted as the official report. The books serves as the records of the narrator as he interviews people from all over the world about the zombie war. His intention with this compilation is that a report on the war on Humanity cannot be complete without the human side of the war.

 

The book covers 8 major periods of the Zombie War:

  • Warnings: Referred by some of the characters as the pre-war time, this particular period has very few cases of out breaks. Patient Zero can be traced to a boy in rural China, and begins spreading to India. A hiker is said to have brought the infection to USA. Bodies that were dumped in the seas wash up on the shores of the countries and spread the infection across the world.
  • Blame: Isolated outbreaks begin in China, but the government tries to suppress knowledge of it. Black market trading of human organs spread the infection across borders, as some of the organs are harvested from people who had fallen sick to the infection, but before their corpses had been reanimated into zombies. The blood from these organs infects the recipients, who after reanimation begin to attack people and spread it even more. There are large outbreaks in Africa, and disease begins to be dubbed as African Rabies. Most of the governments are still in denial about the infection, or its extent. A company tries to profiteer from the scare by marketing a vaccine called Phalanx. Since the vaccine is designed rabies, and not the zombie infection, it fails massively when the infection begins to spread across the USA. While the initial Alpha teams manage to contain the infection, in sufficient follow up actions by the government on account of wanting political gains causes a surge in the spread.
  • The Great Panic: After a new reporter breaks the news that the Phalanx vaccine is just a placebo and has no protection against the actual zombie virus, there is a mass spread of panic and a resulting breakdown of society/civilization from the rapid spread of the infection and people’s attempts to run. The United States Armed Forces try to hold a big stand against the zombies at a choke point called Yonkers near New York. Instead of being the morale boosting war, the battle is a disaster with huge casualties and serves to further reduce the morale of the surviving population.
  • Turning the Tide: The Redeker Plan, prepared by Paul Redeker (an Apartheid era official) is executed in South Africa. The government realizes that realistically it cannot save everyone. Safe zones are identified in highly defensible areas, and the zombies are lead to other zones. People who are not in these safe zones are killed and reanimated as zombies, while the armed forces defend, purge and slowly expand the safe zones. Other countries implement a similar plan based on this plan’s success. Millions of people are reported to have lost their lives during this period.
  • Home Front: Primarily set in the USA, this chapter deals with how the country is restructured. Once bitten, twice shy (excuse the pun); the government reorients its strategies based on the lessons learnt throughout the world. This leads to not only just new military, but also economic and social strategies.
  • Around the World: Similar restructuring and stories of people from around the world, in other countries.
  • Total War: Around the time that most of western USA has been reclaimed, the governments of the world think that it is better to wait out the rest of their time for the zombies to decompose, get weaker so that they either die on their own or are easier to kill. However the USA wants to go on a full offensive to reclaim the entire nation and hence increase morale by touching Humanity’s undying spirit. In itself, it is a very difficult task. This is because the zombies do not require any logistics or weapons. They do not need to stop for feeding or resting. There are no leaders whose assassination can cause a collapse as each individual zombie is a self-sufficient enemy that only focusses on attacking humans. Even large injuries like burning, cutting of limbs only seem to just slow them down. The only way to defeat them is to destroy the brains of each and every one of them. They employ old war strategies re invented by General Raj Singh in India, where by a square of armed forces can go against thousands of zombies. It is used on a large scale at the Battle of Hope in USA with great success. Ten years after the start of war, North America is cleared free of zombies. The world celebrates Victory Day two years later, when China is also cleared of zombies. Russia and Europe have been able to clear the zombie infestation as well.
  • Goodbyes: Also known as the Post-War time, most of the nations have been able to become zombie free. Some parts in the extreme North face a different problem, where the zombies was frozen due to extreme winter and start coming out to attack after they thaw out. There are still millions of zombies at the bottom of the oceans, of which some manage to float or walk to the beaches and have to be killed by the armed forces.

What really works for this book is that it is an oral history of people around the world. Barring a select few characters, characters do not reappear. It does require getting used to, because by the time you get attached the story of a character, the interview of that particular character has finished and we move on to a different character. The reason this works for the book, is that this is the story of humanity as a whole, and not some particular central characters and other secondary supporting characters.

The book covers both, the good and the bad of humans. When you read about the screw ups, each one is as painful as the previous because all of them cost human lives. As you read through the books, it becomes easier to observe and predict the screw ups and poor decisions, but one cannot change or control what happens in this story. We have to live through these losses, as much as the narrator and characters do. To balance this, each act of courage, and help makes you wonder an awe at the strength of human bonds and survival. This book shows how stupid and brazen, and how helpful and caring humans can get.

Another reason (which is discussed in detail in the book) for why lost so many lives, and took this long to recover is that most (if not all) of our war tactics and strategies are based on fighting fellow humans. All of this fails when we’re fighting an enemy that can wage total war against us. This an enemy that does not stop, and has no specific leader. Things that would kill a normal human (like gunfire to the torso, being set on fire, drowning, or starvation fail when it comes to zombies. Every human lost to a zombie bite, is a loss to the humans, but is an addition to the zombie army. This is literally an army that grows as we lose ours.

The interviews are not limited to military veterans, or politicians. There are people who survived only because of the kindness of strangers, people who became veterans because they had no other choice but to enlist and fight, people who witness that sometimes it is humans who are to be most feared as they descend into violence and cannibalism. This is a story that talks of the best and the worst of us.

Since this is a book, and not a film or TV series, it relies upon the imagination of the reader to deal with the gore of the zombie attacks, of them eating humans. Honestly speaking though, these are the least disturbing parts of the book.

Do I recommend this book? Yes, absolutely yes. Full 5 stars. I will leave you with some quotes from the book:

 

 

“Fear,” he used to say, “fear is the most valuable commodity in the universe.” That blew me away. “Turn on the TV,” he’d say. “What are you seeing? People selling their products? No. People selling the fear of you having to live without their products.” Fuckin’ A, was he right. Fear of aging, fear of loneliness, fear of poverty, fear of failure. Fear is the most basic emotion we have. Fear is primal. Fear sells. That was my mantra. “Fear sells.”

 

Our country only exists because people believed in it, and if it wasn’t strong enough to protect us from this crisis, then what future could it ever hope to have? He knew that America wanted a Caesar, but to be one would mean the end of America.

 

Marty chose, instead, to show the other side, the one that gets people out of bed the next morning, makes them scratch and scrape and fight for their lives because someone is telling them that they’re going to be okay. There’s a word for that kind of lie. Hope.

 

When that famous Latin singer played that Spanish lullaby, it was too much for one of our operators. He wasn’t from Buenos Aires, he wasn’t even from South America. He was just an eighteen-year-old Russian sailor who blew his brains out all over his instruments. He was the first, and since the end of the war, the rest of the IR operators have followed suit. Not one of them is alive today. The last was my Belgian friend. “You carry those voices with you,” he told me one morning. We were standing on the deck, looking into that brown haze, waiting for a sunrise we knew we’d never see. “Those cries will be with me the rest of my life, never resting, never fading, never ceasing their call to join them.”

 

KONDO: I thought he was insane, and told him so right to his face. The two of us against millions of siafu? TOMONAGA: I handed his sword back to him; its weight and balance felt familiar to the touch. I told him that we might be facing fifty million monsters, but those monsters would be facing the gods.

 

I made eye contact and gave him this look, like “Hey, Doc, they’re all nut jobs, right?” He must have known what my eyes were asking because he just smiled back and shook his head. That really spooked me; I mean, if the ones who were acting loopy weren’t, then how did you know who’d really lost it?

 

Yeah, we stopped the zombie menace, but we’re the ones who let it become a menace in the first place. At least we’re cleaning up our own mess, and maybe that’s the best epitaph to hope for. “Generation Z, they cleaned up their own mess.”

 

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like I don’t miss some things about the old world, mainly just stuff, things I used to have or things I used to think I could have one day. Last week we had a bachelor party for one of the young guys on the block. We borrowed the only working DVD player and a few prewar skin flicks. There was one scene where Lusty Canyon was getting reamed by three guys on the hood of this pearl gray BMW Z4 convertible, and all I could think was Wow, they sure don’t make cars like that anymore.

 

I’ve heard it said that the Holocaust has no survivors, that even those who managed to remain technically alive were so irreparably damaged, that their spirit, their soul, the person that they were supposed to be, was gone forever. I’d like to think that’s not true. But if it is, then no one on Earth survived this war

Advertisements

Review: The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob

What would you do when the family who you cannot be with anymore, comes back to you? What will you do when their ghosts join you in the garden for a conversation? Will you flee them, or will you think that you need medical attention? The ghosts of Thomas Eapen’s family came to him, and he sat down to have a chat. The Sleepwalker’s Guide to Dancing by Mira Jacob has an interesting premise to say the least.

sleepwalkersguidetodancing

When Amina’s mother tells her of her father’s conversations with his dead mother, she flies home to Albuquerque to check on him. Life at home is not easy. It’s difficult to convince Thomas, a brain surgeon, that his hallucinations are enough cause to not put the lives of patients in his hands. Her mother Kamala however has better things on her mind, like the long pending marriage of her daughter. However when Thomas begins to become consumed with visions of their dead son Akhil in their garden, even Kamala is forced to make decisions.

Life has not always been easy for the Eapens. When Thomas brought Kamala and Akhil to America for a better future, his polarized his mother and brother. A family visit to India for a vacation leaves sour taste as the differences between them only seem to grow larger with the amount of time spent away from each other. A violent outburst leads to early departure for the Eapens, but comes back to haunt Thomas when a fire razes down the house with the family in it. His last memory of the family is the fight that made him leave mid-vacation.

Akhil is a headstrong teen who cannot come to terms with how things are. He continues to grow emotionally detached from the family, and finds comfort in his girlfriend, who sees the caring heart in him. Good times however are not long lived as an accident takes Akhil away from the family. His death becomes the start of the transformation of the family members.

The story jumps between three different times, with Amina being the constant point of view through them all, a reference through which we can see how the family members change. Amina is however not without demons of her own. A professional photographer, her claim to fame was a perfectly timed picture of a man jumping to his death. Her dealing with this brings back memories of her dealing with Akhil’s death when she had started to learn photography.

The story interweaves the three times intricately. Which is why when the story moves from Thomas and his brother Sunil’s fights in 1970’s to present day hallucinations of Thomas in the 90’s, and back to Akhil’s death because of Narcolepsy in the 80’s; it seems like a natural interweaving of story arcs. A river breaking into different branches, which along its length continue to meet and move away on their paths.

The book is an emotional telling about family. One of the key emotions in the book is that of regret. The regret of not being able to be a brother or son’s keeper, of not being able to pursue something of passion, and even the regret of not being understood. The reader goes through the same emotional turmoil as the characters in the book. A turmoil that takes seed and slowly grows till it begins to throttle them slowly.

The slow descent of Thomas into rejecting medical cure and accepting his hallucinations as a cure to his personal demons is moving. Within itself it is a moving tale of what a straight thinking person is willing to give up, but to look at how his decisions affect those of his family, and peel away the layers to their core, is nothing short of brilliant.

I will leave you with some select quotes from the book:

“We are all we have here. Do you understand? That is it. And we can all talk about old times and Campa Cola and wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back, but none of us ever want to go back. To what? To who? Our own families can’t even stand us for longer than a few days! No, we are home already, like it or not,”

“Weddings are about fantasies—you understand? Your job is to photograph the fantasy, not the reality. Never the reality. If I ever see another picture like that, you’re fired.”

“He’s fine,” Kamala said. “It’s not like that. You’re not listening.” “I am listening! You just told me he’s delusional, and I’m asking—” “I DID NOT SAY HE IS DELUSIONAL. I SAID HE WAS TALKING TO HIS MOTHER.” “Who is dead,” Amina said gently. “Obvious.” “And that’s not delusional?”

Teeth

Teeth are important calcium based parts of the body. Primarily their function is to bite, chew and break down food so that it can be consumed and digested. Secondarily they serve as an offensive or defensive mechanism. Carnivores use teeth in hunting to capture and kill their prey. Teeth can also be used in self defence, in the act of biting the attacker.  Generally teeth are present in the mouth; however there is a movie that tells the story of a girl who has teeth in her vagina.

Titled ‘Teeth’, the movie is about a teenage girl Dawn, who has ‘Vagina Dentata’ or teeth in her vagina. The idea of this is not new. It is found in numerous cultures, and is used as a folk story to discourage rape, the idea being that rapist’s penis will be bitten off by the teeth in the vagina.

Dawn is part of a teenage abstinence group, and is ridiculed by some of her class mates for it. Two of her abstinence group friends introduce her to Tobey, whom she grows close to. After swimming together in a lake, they spend time in a cave nearby. They give in to their attraction towards each other and start kissing. Dawn doesn’t want to progress beyond that, while Tobey wants to have sex. In an iconic first occurrence, Dawn’s teeth bite off his penis.

Dawn later befriends another boy, Ryan from her class. Ryan doesn’t ridicule her like most of her class mates do, and is an emotional support for her when her mom is going through health woes. While initially apprehensive, the two successfully manage to have sex. Later, in yet another iconic scene Dawn finds out that Ryan did all this as part of a bet which involved him ‘scoring her’. He boasts of this in a telephone conversation with a friend while the two are having sex; which leads to (as some of you may guess it) her vaginal teeth biting his penis off.

The movie however is about more than just her teeth. There is a scene of a biology class where the text books have a detailed diagram of a penis, but that of a vagina is censored by a sticker. On being asked, the teacher merely says that it is inappropriate to show female genitals. This leads to further doubts and confusion in the mind of Dawn, who is left to resort to internet searches on her own.

Actress Jess Weixler, who plays Dawn, has done a wonderful performance. She is able to pull of the scenes which show her as a frightened and confused teenager, with as much as ease the scenes which show her as confident and in control person. The movie was premiered at the 2007 Sundance festival, and is a blend of drama, horror and comedy.

 

Written for day 20 of the A to Z Challenge

Review: Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator)

Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami has three characters at its core. Sumire is a young Japanese woman who is in her early twenties. She is an aspiring writer, and holds part time jobs along with the stipend she receives from her family to sustain her livelihood till she finishes her novel. Miu is a Korean woman whom Sumire is attracted towards. Among other things Miu imports wines in to Japan, and asks Sumire to work for her. K is the narrator and lead central character. He is her friend and few years older than her. An elementary school teacher, he has passionate feelings for Sumire.

While K is the narrator of the novel, the story effortlessly moves between the characters like a football team passing the ball. Sumire is an anti-social woman who doesn’t get along well with many people because she is a motor mouth. She dresses in clothes too large for herself, and often goes without matching her socks. Sumire can write beautifully but cannot complete her novel. Her works have an ending or a beginning, but never both. She feels that her writing lacks a soul that will connect the two.

K is two years older than Sumire, and they initially bond over their love for reading. K develops intense feelings of passion for her, but knows that she cannot reciprocate the same for him. There are moments when this passion flares up in him, and he takes to having a relationship on the side to deal with his urges. K even talks to Sumire when she calls him up in the middle of the night. K serves as the only person to which Sumire can vent out, or open up to.

Miu is a successful businesswoman, who gave up her training as a pianist to look after the family business after her dad died. She meets Sumire at one of her former student’s wedding. The two of them talk about the author Jack Kerouac, whom Miu mistakenly calls of the Sputnik style instead of the Beatnik style (having mixed up the two words). Sumire who thought herself to be asexual, feels an attraction towards her. Miu asks Sumire to work for her, first three days a week and as a full time personal secretary later. Due to the nature of work, they have to travel much. The word ‘Sputnik’ means a travelling companion, which is why the book is title ‘Sputnik Sweetheart’.

Sumire is an aspiring writer, and K is her friend who loves her. Sumire falls in love with Miu, who offers her a job and is 17 years older to her. The two are off to Europe for a business trip and decide to spend some time at a Greek island to relax. One day K receives a call from Miu, and she asks him to come at once. Sumire has disappeared. When K reaches the island, he learns from Miu and some of the Sumire’s writings as to what had happened before her disappearance.

The book is full of angst and loneliness. Sumire is full of angst about her not being able to write the novel she wants, and her nonconformance with society. Sumire has intense feelings for Miu, but doesn’t know how to talk to her about it. K pains about his unrequited love towards Sumire, and tries to sleep with other women. He ends up still thinking about Sumire all the time, and it makes things worse for him for her to be so close to him, and yet not with him. Miu has a secret in her past, and doesn’t know how to react when Sumire disappears.

Murakami has a wonderful way with words. His choice of words make you feel the stuffiness that the characters feel, and he can paint a vivid picture with ease. His play of metaphors is brilliant. When we learn of Sumire’s inability to finish a novel, he uses the metaphor of ancient Chinese gates. These were sealed with bones of soldiers, and their souls would revive only when fresh blood was mixed with them. There is another instance Sumire is going through changes in her life on account of her new job under Miu, when K explains how in life one uses the gears of a transmission to adjust to the realities of life. He tells her how she has taken off one transmission, but not yet bolted another while the all the engine keeps generating all the raw power. Another recurring theme is of duality or ‘the other side’. For most counts, the two sides are polar opposites. What one lives in, and what dreams; what one wants to be, and what one is; what is in the past and what lives today.

The story is well layered. Miu has a secret of something that happened 14 years in the past that made her hair turn white overnight. The story behind that is told in the Sumire’s story, which comes as a part of K’s own story in his search of Sumire. There are fantastical elements in Miu’s story, in Sumire’s dreams and K’s experiences.

Overall this makes for a gripping read with its layers of stories, character back stories and the intense longing for something that one cannot have.

Some wonderful quotes from this book:

“In the world we live in, what we know and what we don’t know are like Siamese twins, inseparable, existing in a state of confusion.” 

“We each have a special something we can get only at a special time of our life, like a small flame. A careful, fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way. But once that flame goes out, it’s gone forever.” 

“I closed my eyes and listened carefully for the descendants of Sputnik, even now circling the earth, gravity their only tie to the planet. Lonely metal souls in the unimpeded darkness of space, they meet, pass each other, and part, never to meet again. No words passing between them. No promises to keep.” 

“I’ve written an incredible amount up till now. Nearly every day. It’s like I was standing in a huge pasture, cutting the grass all by myself, and the grass grows back almost as fast as I can cut it. Today I’d cut over here, tomorrow over there… By the time I make one complete round of the pasture the grass in the first spot is as tall as it was in the beginning.”

sputnikcover

A bunch of us friends got together over the idea of having a reading group to discuss books and authors (as most reading groups do). As part of this month’s activity, we had polled to start reading Haruki Murakami. Sputnik Sweetheart was part of that push to read his work.

Shuddh Desi Romance: Review

Shudh Desi Romance is the primarily the story of three characters Raghu (Sushant Rajput), Gayatri (Parineeti Chopra) and Tara (Vaani Kapoor) set in Jaipur, and the love triangle between them. The focus for the majority part of the movie is more about the insecurities and fears of commitment the three face. Rishi Kapoor plays the character of Mr. Goyal who is caterer and manages baarats.

Plot Synopsis:

Raghu is a registered tour guide, but also makes money from commissions he gets from stores where he dupes foreigners to buy things at exaggerated prices. Apart from this, he is a baraati for hire. Gayatri is also a baraati for hire and works at a coaching class. The story starts with Raghu and is baarat on their way to Ajmer for his marriage with Taara. In his talk with Gayatri(whom he has hired for his baarat) he confesses that he agreed to get married to Taara because she was good looking, however he now has his apprehensions as he doesn’t know if the two are compatible or not. He learns that Gayatri is an independent woman who likes to live on her own terms, and has had been in a relationship before.

He goes on to confess that he is attracted to Gayatri. He can’t handle the pressure of marrying someone he doesn’t know and runs away, leaving Taara in the middle of the ceremonies. Gayatri runs into Raghu two weeks later, and Raghu still feels the attraction towards her. He moves in to her house and they try start a live in relationship. When the two of them decide to get married, it is not the turn of Raghu to be left at the altar as Gayatri runs away.

Raghu runs into Tara, when he is a baarati for hire. There is an interesting confrontation between Taara, her uncle and Raghu. Taara and Raghu meet in Jaipur, and start a relationship. Taara’s actions bring a better understanding in Raghu as to how it feels when someone leaves you without an explanation. Things turn for a toss when Raghu and Taara run in to Gayatri at another marriage.

The movie starts with a monologue by Raghu in which he breaks the fourth wall and talks to the audience. There will be one such monologue by each of the three characters at key junctures of the story. Raghu mulls over the fascination of the nation with arranged marriage. There are four key parts of this monologue:

  • Not only men but women also have desires, and they look for different things when they check out/look for a partner. While in itself it is not the revealing of a hitherto unknown fact, but the admission of it is deviation from many Bollywood movies.
  • Even if a guy and girl just talk, they become Vikram and the rest of the world becomes Vetaal to hound them.
  • He can’t understand why people tell him ‘Zyaada mat socho, bus settle ho jaao.’ (Don’t think too much, just settle down) as if ‘Shaadi na hui, glucose/ ICU ho gaya, har chees ka ilaaj’ (As if marriage is like glucose/ ICU which is a treatment for every ail)
  • The best part was: ‘saara hindustan settlement karane pe laga hai… saatth saal se do padosi se settlement kara nahi paae bade chaudhary bante hain’ (The whole nation is behind getting settled, they couldn’t settle two neighbors in 60 years but still think of themselves as something great)

Another interesting scene of mention is the confrontation between Raghu, Taara and Taara’s uncle at a marriage. While Raghu initially tries to avoid running into him, they come face to face. The uncle creates a ruckus and calls on some people to beat him up. When Taara intervenes to stop the scene, he tells her that she is her ‘responsibility’. What follows is pure brilliance.

Taara goes on to ask him when was it that her parents (who had died quite some time ago) handed over responsibility to him. She says that she alone is responsible for her life, and that doesn’t need help from an uncle who met her only once in the last four years which was also in a marriage. In fact they were doing this not because they felt for her, but they wanted revenge for themselves.

Taara is my favorite character in the movie. While Gayatri is an independent woman as well, Taara shows more presence of mind, an understanding for human emotions, and is the only character who accepts things for what they truly are, so that she can move on. When she is left standing when Raghu runs away, her reaction is to ask for a cold drink instead of breaking down (for which she gives a good reason later).

There are many nuances that are built in the story and dialogues that make it a gem. When Raghu and Taara are to get married and the baaratis ask her to show her face from beneath her ghunghat (veil) someone comments in the back that such a beautiful girl is being married off to Raghu because she is orphan and her relatives want to get rid of her. The opening song sequence shows many different couples in the city, how they are moving about, including wannabes who ogle at girls who pass by or the cops punishing couples found in parks by making them do sit ups. My personal favorites are the monologues by the characters, in which the double standards of our systems are traditions are questioned.

This is why I believe that the star of the movie is not an actor but writer Jaideep Sahni (who also wrote the script), who has written the scripts for ‘Chak De! India’ and ‘Khosla ka Ghosla’ before. Director Maneesh Sharma does a good job. The chemistry between between Sushant and Parineeti is better than that between Vaani and him.

Watch out for the opening song ‘Chanchal mann’

and ‘Gulabi’ which has Sushant and Vaani in different parts of the pink city.

 

Review: Hexagon by Ishaan Lalit

Hexagon is the second book by Ishaan Lalit, after TheBracelet. I will give you a gist of the story with minimal spoilers before the review.
Hexagon is primarily led by Rahul Oberoi who is an art thief along with this his girl friend Ria. Things go for a toss when they are caught in one of their chases and are lead to a secret underground facility (and yes it is an Indian government facility; Thank you, Ishaan), where to their wonder his grandfather worked before his death. The reason for this facility being so secret is the existence of an ancient hexagonal device which acts as nexus or gateway of sorts to access the six different parallel earths. From one of these earths comes the race known as Moths. They are on a path of world domination and know how to use the Hexagon to access other earths to conquer them.  Now it depends on how they brace themselves with such information and what they do about it. Do they use the Hexagon to access the other earths as well, and if they do will they find friendly races or more enemies?
The book is fast paced and surprisingly you do not get the feeling of jumping from one act to another but instead it seems like a natural progression only at a fast pace. It is like running up a flight of stairs and noticing the different doors and apartments on each floor. I like to see the book in two different aspects. The first being the story of the characters and how they act and change as you read on. The second is the sci-fi setting of the novel with the Hexagonal device, parallel earths, and the different races on said earths. Ishaan deserves credit for a job well done here. He doesn’t get carried away in either of the aspects. You won’t find him describing the universe his work is set in and not delve on the characters. He manages to strike a balance with his visual descriptions.
As mentioned, this is his second book and it is an added pleasure to read it after the first. I personally believe that the core structure of the two books is similar. A character gets involved in a situation; the existence of which is a secret, and how he in spite of being the newbie to it has to take initiative to see it through. This book has the weaves of story lines more intricate and how the writer is maturing his skills with more writing. The book however has its shortfalls. I found that the editing needs more work as there is one chapter that is repeated after its original apart from a few very minor slips.
The second issue I have is more of a personal opinion and should not be considered demerit at all. The book is too short for my liking. It is not short in general, as it has about more than 50K words, and has 232 pages. I personally enjoyed the style of writing in this book with its descriptions, characterizations and sci-fi elements. At the end of the book I was left with a feeling of wanting more. Make no mistake that writing such a piece of work must have been a very consuming task for him, and the book does end with a possibility of a sequel. I do hope that we get to read it. 

Review: The Krishna Key

The Krishna Key’ is the third book written by Ashwin Sanghi, after having written The Rozabal Line and Chanakya’s Chant. Without giving out any detailed spoilers, I will give you a gist of the story as part of the review.
The driving character of the books is Ravi Saini. He is a mythology & history teacher who is on the run to clear his name in the murder of his childhood friend Anil Varshney. Before his death, Varshney found an object that with his theory can change how we know history. However before he can do much about he murdered by a man who calls himself Taarak Vakil, whose name when you play with spells out ‘Kalki Avatar’. However he is not the bad guy like You-Know-Who but a man who believes himself to be tenth avatar of Vishnu (Kalki Avatar) and must vanquish the wrong and bring forth the light.  Now Saini must prove himself innocent while not getting in the hands of Taarak who is trying to kill him as well and save himself from the cunning and competent inspector in charge of hunting him.
The book is in three layers. Layer one is the main story of Saini and Vakil and how their individual quests progress and sometimes merge like the branches of a river. Layer two is the back stories/ flashbacks of the characters which serve to add flavour and show their individual motivation. Layer three is Krishna telling his own story to the reader. Of the three layers I personally liked the second layer the most as it provides the background of the canvas against which the main story is being drawn on while Krishna’s words serve as the frame for the painting.
The book has been told by some be India’s answer to Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Now I don’t know how to react to this statement, but yes the book is indeed of the same genre. A mixing of the past and the present, murder and mystery, facts and wishful thinking and some conspiracy theories. The plot has its fair share of surprises and predictable moments. I believe each reader will react differently to the book depending on the number of plot twists they are able to predict or be fascinated by.
I have not read his first book, but have read Chanakya’s Chant with much delight multiple times. Chanakya’s Chant also had two layers, one of the fictional retelling of Chanakya and Chandragupta Maurya’s lives and the second of the lives Chandini and Gangasagar in the present. The two layers were in perfect balance with one leading into the other stream lessly. Just like a well made lasagna or Danish pastry. The Krishna Key however lacks such finesse and at times the plot seems to be pushed ahead instead of progressing. I once wondered that this book had been written before and Chanakya’s Chant after assuming that as the author matured his way of balancing the layers did as well. It seems however Sanghi is a victim of the success of his previous work that I and others have compared this book to those before.
The book is however still a good read and I must appreciate the amount of effort and time put in by the author in the research required to write such a book.
This review is part of the Book Review Program by BlogAdda. Wherein members of the program can receive free books as long as they commit to post a review of it. Due to my own lack of energy owing to some projects I hadn’t blogged for quite some time. I knew that a review would be required when I got in to the program and my lack of energy is no excuse for the review to come so late that BlogAdda had to follow up on me. My sincerest apologies for that.