The World’s Oldest, Most Powerful Secret Society | Book Review

Anand Arungundram Mohan’s novel, the first in The Journey Series, The World’s Oldest, Most Powerful Secret Society is an out and out fantasy novel executed in a manner (wonderfully) that it comes in a position to utilise the present – Indian conditions, Indo-Pak relations, terrorism and others – and establishing a connection of the present to a mysterious past that he creates at the very beginning of his novel. The novel has been praised for its sheer fantasy, alternate reality that it has created in the past and has used that wonderfully in the present. Many a leading Indian book review site have opened sentences of praises to appreciate this work by Anand. 

The novel opens in the battleground where Ashoka is fighting for Kalinga. Unfortunately, even the win could not attain satisfaction and Ashoka, disillusioned with life, announced renunciation as a Boudh Bhikshu. Hold on, that’s what the history books say. Anand comes up with his mysterious pack. The novel tells you that Ashoka created a secret society in which he inducted 9 very intelligent men to carry out scholarly research, investigation and literature writing and, eventually, prepare a Book of Power that will have advanced science (almost impossible science) which will be used for the benefit of humanity at large. Liked the idea? What are the advanced science theories? What are the inventions these scholars cover? What are the futuristic technologies? Where do they keep the book? 

In the present, the novel zooms in on 9 ‘special children’ all born on the same day, having a single minute’s difference between each other, Ram being the eldest. These guys live with their families in a building called River Fall in Hyderabad and the year they were born was 2006. Rocky, Gopal, Leela, and Ali are other prominent members of the Nifty Nine, coined by Leela. An incident or rather an accident during a cricket match takes the life of Gopal and all other friends are sad for many days. However, the next thing that works like a propeller in the novel is the search for that book, the Book of Power which has, they say, the power to do many things one cannot imagine, including bringing someone back into life after the demise… really? This turn adds too much fun, excitement and chaotic scenes in the novel when the guys fly around in the chariots… they key turnaround in the plot comes when a letter by Gopal floats including the sentence: 

PS: I received a strange email today. It read: “Eight will find what the Nine have left behind.”

Of course, the children find the book and they try to bring Gopal back from the dead as well. Moreover, they do many other things with the powers they realise the book has. However, is it the same book that the secret society formed by Ashoka had hidden somewhere? Are these guys, 9 in number, the same guys who died thousands of years ago? There are many strange twists in turns in the novel to keep the readers occupied until the conclusion which is perfectly a preparation ground for the next instalment in The Journey Series. 

Coming to the critical aspects of the novel, it is thrilling and exciting – no doubts about it. However, the novel has many ambiguous elements which could have been and should be avoided when the author writes his next novel in the series. The novel has utilised many Indian elements from the ancient texts popular in South India and well-known all over India. Ratha or a chariot feature in many Indian ancient texts and these vehicles, run by the horses, had the powers to fly in the sky and even move on the water. This utilisation ensures that Anand becomes one of those authors, like Amish Tripathi and Ashwin Sanghi, who can connect the Indian past to the Indian present and give something wonderful to the readers as the end result. The narrative becomes underdeveloped as the novel progresses. The conversation threads become too open to losing the track as there is nothing which can qualify who is talking to whom. Though these incidents are very few in number to trouble the reading experience, a better version could have made it the best! To sum up, the novel is wonderfully prepared to take the readers to a joy ride and I would emphasise that The World’s Oldest, Most Powerful Secret Society is more a children’s and teen’s novel… you can get a copy of the novel from Amazon India by clicking the link below: 

Buy the novel from Amazon – click here 

Review by Santosh for The Book Blog 

Chanakya’s Chant | Ashwin Sanghi | Book Review

Chanakya’s Chant by Ashwin Sanghi is a bestselling novel published in the year 2010 by Westland Publications. This novel, many would agree, started a trend in Indian English fiction which juxtaposed itself with the trend started by Chetan Bhagat a little earlier – entertaining and second class romance vs retelling and realigning mythological and historical tales from Indian ancient scriptures and history.  Chanakya’s Chant received unbound praises and also a certain amount of criticism for the author’s job.

While many would say that it is a fashion for the writers to go for romantic novels, it has certainly become a new trend to retell a historical perspective in a novel and present them in a contemporary way to appease, please and sometimes enlighten the young Indian book-reading audience. Ashwin Sanghi and Amish Tripathi are the two major writers in this field. Their writings depict the glorious past of ancient India and narrate them in a way that every reader can enjoy it. So, today, I am reviewing a book by Ashwin Sanghi ‘Chanakya’s Chant.’ I think we all are aware of Chanakya’s wisdom, valour and strength. The world recognizes him as a Brahmin who became a kingmaker and a legendary one!

Perspectives on the novel:
The writing style of Ashwin Sanghi is pretty different compared to others, his contemporary or his successors-predecessors. He uses to tell the story of the ancient past and put them into the contemporary world to simplify the things for a common reader. The novel has two storylines. One deals with the story of Chanakya and other deals with a contemporary Chanakya’s reincarnation because of a curse, Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. Both narratives have been linked in such a way that a reader can only do nothing other than appreciating it. It is a very new kind of experiment in the limited context of Indian English literature.

The first part of the story depicts the work done by Chanakya. It recalls the story of Alexandra and Porus. What we have been taught in our childhood, the story of Porus’ strength thas been recalled in the book. The story of Chandragupta and Chanakya also finds a deserving place in this novel and decorates it with further glory added to the policymaker of ancient India whose policies are still discussed and debated and whose name has become a metaphor, a hyperbole I would say. How a bad-looking Brahmin uprooted the great kingdom of Magadha and installed a suitable man Chandraguppta there – this story will be appreciated by the modern readers. It describes Chanakya’s wisdom and strategies to encounter any problem that came his way. Chanakya is a jewel of India and that jewel has been discussed in a pretty well-balanced way by the author. His strategies, wisdom, strength and support were always there to help India to be a developed nation.

The second part of the book discusses a fictional character, Pandit Gangasagar Mishra. He is like Chanakya of past who is determined to uproot the bad politicians from the ruling and putting there a suitable person who can uplift the condition of India. Well, was it an attack on the ruling Congress party? You can take this conjecture forward if you like. It is about modern-day of the years in India when corruptions and scams became normal and usually covered very first pages of Indian newspapers – scams, scams and scams. How politicians have become so corrupt and doing a lot of criminal activities which baffled Pandit Gangasagar Mishra and he became more and more determined to enter into a battle of strategies and policies and unity and team-building. Like Chanakya was determined with his strategies, in the same way, Gangasagr is determined to cleanse the political settings. Like Chanakya had a suitable disciple Chandragupta, in the same way, Gangasagar has also a disciple whom he wants to become the prime minister.

However, there are certain drawbacks of the novel. If you know the history well, you will be frustrated sometimes. Beauce the novel by Ashwin Sanghi, Chanakya’s Chant, has got many of the dates and timelines entirely wrong. Chanakya is quoting Dale Carnegie and all other that is beyond the imagination of anyone. Moreover, Gangasagar and Chanakya have been shown in a way that they can do anything for success. But it was not the truth! Chanakya always followed the path of righteousness or rather Dharma that does not teach anyone to deviate from the path of virtues to the path of sin. The honest thing is that we cannot expect the authors of the day to get everything right. Indian authors are trying their best to please the readers and anything else only comes later. Sanghi, in one of his interviews, even agreed that this novel was meant to be a thriller and not anything else. So, it makes things clear.

Conclusion:
Well. the novel is a perfect piece for the literature lovers who love to read historical novels. However, if you are looking for a purely historical novel so that you will learn something about Chanakya and his time, then certainly this not meant for you. The novel creates a replica of Chanakya in the modern period. It deals with the past and puts it into the present frame to provide a roadmap for a better future. – nah! It’s called strategic writing to milk the most of the moment… Ashwin Sanghi has done great if that is the benchmark of success! You should read the novel if you are looking for entertainment and also a little to push you into thinking about things other than how many times and on which page numbers. You can buy the novel from Amazon India by clicking the link to Amazon below:

 

Buy the novel from Amazon – click here to go to Amazon India buy page

 

review by Amit for The Book Blog

Revolution 2020 by Chetan Bhagat | Book Review

Chetan Bhagat’s novel Revolution 2020 was supposed to be a novel which should not have followed the popular template on which his usual novels race. However, it did not only disappoint but further deep-dropped the idea of a novel at the hands of Chetan Bhagat, a genuine novel I mean. Here is my review for this well-begun but a badly-finished and botched up piece of fiction by the popular novelist. Moreover, Chetan Bhagat is one of those Indian authors who know what to reveal and what to hide when it comes to marketing a book vehemently to meed the attention-seeking goals. 

Well, when you start something greater and it ends up with a failure that can be called ‘Revolution 2020’ by Chetan Bhagat. The title may attract you to read this work but you will not find what you were looking for after seeing the title. I have also let myself be misled with the words of the best-selling author that this book may be something else. It promised that it talks about revolution, ambition and corruption but ends with a typical love trilogy.

About the Book:

The book revolves around three major characters Raghava, Gopal and Aarti. They are childhood friends and want to succeed in their life. However, the deep-rooted corruption turns on the ambition of one who wants to fight against this and another joins hand with the very corruption to make it a staircase to success. But the story loses the track when it just begins to make a progress and the narrative shifted to a classic Chetan Bhagat love story. Both boys Raghava and Gopal are friends and they love the same girl Aarti. As you could have expected it to be, yes, it is a classic deception by Chetan Bhagat who can turn any tragedy into a semi-thriller or a cheap love story which does not offer anything new to the readers rather than hopes and despair and continuous rounding up of this cycle. Revolution 2020 could well be his magnum opus but then, Chetana and the fans of Chetan certainly did not plan it this way! 

Critical Appraisal:

Well, is there anything critical to appreciate or even criticise in his works? Still, I will try to do justice with the title of this section. After reading this novel, one can be pretty sure that Chetan Bhagat lives in a certain kind of hangover of IITs and IIMs. You can pick any book of him and the character is either in IIT or IIM. Moreover, in this novel, he has gone too far and presented a very derogatory remark on the students who unfortunately fail in the exams of IIT, NIT or other competitive examinations. He said, If you can not do engineering from an IIT then only one option has been left for you – becoming a watchman. So, Chetan Bhagat, there are many more students who are not engineers but they have contributed to the country. And there are even more engineers in the country who are not from IITs but they are doing BETTER than you! So, keep this semantic to yourself. 

He can not come out of his typical mindset of love story irrespective what he has chosen as the title, concept and idea everything will fall in the same basket of a love story.

Conclusion:

In the name of revolution, you will find two people chasing a girl. Perhaps, this is the Chetan Bhagat’s style of revolution. You may agree or disagree with his writings but you have to praise his marketing skills. The novel sets in a very familiar way with Indian places and Indian names. If this is Indianness in Indian English literature, better not be the exemplary case! The language is pretty easy and everyone can relate to the story. Hell with critical claims or critical acclaims, Chetan is doing what he does the best. 

Review by Amit for The Book Blog

The Penthouse by Niraj Sharma – Review

Reading crime thriller novels has been my forte and I have been through many novels with a hope that I will get something that will compel me into a posture of thinking – was the hate necessary? Recently, I have been through a novel written by Niraj Sharma, an Indian author living in Canada, The Penthouse. The novel has been published in India by Ashvamegh Publication and this shows that Niraj has his attention on the Indian readers and his gesture is truly appreciable. However, what’s inside the novel? What are the major features? What is the best thing in it? Who should be the ideal readers to read this novel? I will try to touch all these aspects in my book review today and I am sure that my review will be different from others posted on leading Indian book review website.

The novel is about an Italian youth with abundant ambition who enters into the world of crime and narcotics with an aim to earn more money. Though he makes money more than he could ever imagine, his expectations go on increasing and he is sent by his boss to America with a team of criminals to expand the business there. In the USA, he succeeds and earns more than enough to buy a penthouse for himself but also makes many new enemies in the process. He does not know that the ones he thinks to be his friends are his enemies in disguise and they could harm him.

Vito’s life is soothed by the presence of Alicia, a girl who comes into his life and eventually becomes his wife in the course of the novel. Moreover, it is Alicia’s presence that forces Vito to rethink about his life as a criminal and the duality in which he keeps others guessing. He lies to his parents; he lies to Alicia; he lies to himself. Eventually, when he thinks of quitting the life of crime, he faces too many troubles and that makes the conclusion interesting enough to be followed by the readers.

On the technical side, the novel has been written in continuity and there are no subplots developing rather than the main plot which is fairly straight and does not have many twists other than the ones at the end. In a fair and square narrative, loaded with simple language, the novelist tries to try the life of Vito Ricci, the emerging crime lord who poses as a real-estate developer and betrays his own conscience day by day. Violence and criminal episodes run through the novel and intensify towards the end. For the readers of crime thriller novels, Niraj Sharma’s piece will be a treat to read if they have the patience to cope with its slow pace at the beginning. Moreover, the novel also deviates from the usual path that the best crime thriller novelists in India often follow. It enters into the psyche of the criminal – Vito – and tries to bring out the elements that most of the novelists often ignore. So, it will have two layers – one for the general readers and one for the experts.

You can get a copy of the novel from Amazon India by clicking the link below:

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Review by a contributor to The Book Blog

23rd June 2169: will Ztocmi be able to put Earth Resort into the orbit? Review

There are many books on my reading table at present. However, choosing among them becomes tough at times as I have to find the best one to suit my mood for the moment. Recently, I had an idea of reading good science fiction by any Indian novelist and luckily enough, I got one sent to me by one of my reader friends – written by Gajender Sharma, 23rd June 2169: Will Ztocmi be able to put Earth Resort into the orbit?

This is a futuristic science fiction novel that gives the readers an idea about the future that might be looming on us. However, largely, his ideas are only positive ones and also the hopeful ones. Moreover, the novel follows a very simple plot that does not have too many twists only until the ending arrives at the scene. Ztocmi is a leading scientist on the earth and his fame has crossed the planet and he is well-known among the scientists and leaders on the Moon and the Mars. Yes, people have begun living on these two celestial bodies as well. He is assisted in the project earth resort by his team of scientists from the earth, from the moon and also from the mars. However, the most essential companion that he has is Zoi, a woman who is known as the most intelligent woman on the earth in the 2160s.

The novel moves very naturally and we all (as the readers) navigate through various scientific wonders on the earth and other planets. Space travel seems to have become very easy as Ztocmi does not take more than a few hours in navigating between planets and the Moon. Moreover, his own facilities provided by the world and planet leaders are not lesser compared to wonders and imagination of today – the 21st century. His car can fly and talk; his car can understand the thoughts and needs of Ztocmi. The house that he has got is equally equipped with many facilities and the most noteworthy among those is the capacity to fly if needed.

The concept of a society that is shared between artificial intelligence and human beings seems pleasant from a distance but it does raise many questions if you care to look from a close distance. The robots have begun to think about decorating themselves with human tendencies and human beings are loaded with the powers and qualities that we often find in the robots. Is that okay?

Now I would like to share my opinions about the novel itself, in its technical details. I am sure that the ones among the leading book reviewers in India will take a note of this one and they will highlight their own merits and demerits in the book. Well, the novel has been written in a very simple language that makes the reading experience smooth and pretty easy. However, the themes that the novel takes up are wide in nature. The conclusion will take the readers by surprise and it will raise many questions on the beliefs that we have been having for many centuries. The plot could have been a little subtle and it could have accommodated many other essential elements that a science fiction novel should generally have. Still, it is good to read such a novel and I would certainly recommend this to the readers of The Book Blog who believe in the power of science fiction. All the best!

You can buy a copy of this novel from Amazon India and read it right now!

Buy the novel – click here to buy a copy

Review by Aditya for The Book Blog

The Chronicle of Golgotha Days by Sujith Balakrishnan – Review

There have been many novels on the issues that are related to women and their issues. However, not all of them are as intense as the recent novel by Sujith Balakrishnan is – The Chronicle of Golgotha Days. This novel has been written in the first person and the subject of the novel, Abhaya, herself recites the story of her devastation.

The novel is based on the incident known as the Suryanelli Rape Case of 1996. A 16-year-old girl, a schoolgirl, was gang-raped, tortured, humiliated and harassed mentally and physically by many people including some of the high-profile persons from the civil society – politicians, advocates and officers included. The justice, however, is still in the queue.

Sujith Balakrishnan has raised the issue of injustice and ghastly crime against a girl in his novel. He has based his characters according to the real criminal incident and he has let the victim narrate the story herself. By doing so, the novelist has been very successful in creating an atmosphere that gives space to empathy – as a reader, you will certainly feel for the victim!

All that comes out of reading this novel is a shame that we have created such a society that’s unable to stop crimes against women and girls. A society where it’s troublesome to trust someone in relationships like love and friendship – Abhaya trusts a bus conductor and he is the guy who abandons her and propels the tragedy. Sujith has also exposed the sordid state of the justice system in our country that’s still unable to establish what happened 23 years ago! Are we being serious?

Being the very debut novel of Sujith Balakrishnan, he has done some commendable job as a novelist. He has been able to compel his readers to think and feel in a certain direction. He has been successful in inducing a chain of thoughts in his audience – a craving for justice. The language used by Sujith has also been ideal for modern readers’ tendencies. It’s neither too complicated nor too simple.

This novel will be an ideal read for the readers who love reading serious fiction or fiction with a cause other than leisure. Sujith Balakrishnan has opened a new door into the world of realistic fiction and this one leads the readers, certainly, to a world where they can seek cause, effects, remedies and possibilities of betterment.

You can get a copy of this novel from Amazon India by clicking the link below:

Buy the book from Amazon India – click here

review by Ajay for The Book Blog