Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tantra - Blogadda Book Review

Tantra by Adi – honestly, it could do a little bit better with a different title for a book with stories of supernatural nature, mumbo-jumbos, black magic and the ilk. The story revolves around a female protagonist (imagine Kate Beckinsale from the Underworld series – with 50% of that charisma and raw amateurish attitude in a salwar Kameez and in Delhi!) called Anu Aggrawal who’s a vampire slayer (or guardian as she and her kind are called in the book) in NYC. She relocates herself to Delhi in search of her lover’s killer. During this search, she stumbles upon matters much graver and darker than just the vampires (Yes, vampires in Delhi and India too for that matter!). The book details Anu’s journey through various tribulations and trepidations – from dealing with ‘dekhan-dikhai’ events for arranged marriage (in the midst of trying to save the world!) to uncovering and practicing various mantras to summon weapons of destruction for that ultimate enemy-slaughter combined with the ‘tantra’ or the ‘black magic’ and the spiritual secrets along the way! In this quest, she’s aided by various characters – some of them are her fellow colleagues aka vampire slayers/guardians, the vampire head himself (this had to happen eventually if they were to fight another enemy of a different type altogether), a professor and a real high-level priest. This book, from what I gather is the first in the series, hence some mysteries are left un-deciphered in this book for obvious reasons.

The cover page, quite like the title, could have done better than putting up such a gimmicky graphical representation of the plot – which sadly did not justify the quality of the plot and the plot itself (which is pretty nice). Depicting the protagonist in such a funny manner only made me take her a little less seriously throughout the book because I couldn’t get the damn yellowy-tee-with-black-skirts/pants/stockings?!-girl out from my head (and the yellow and black combi till date reminds me of only cabs in Mumbai)! And with the bulging-eye-trying-really-hard-to-scare evil on the left and the moonish skull on the right with the girl below fail to show any harmony and appear like three separate images placed on a landscape!

The nuances of lives, emotions, practicality, spirituality, black magic and vampires have been illustrated quite well in the book. While the plot is nice too and the quality of introducing twists and turns in the book is interesting too, the publishing house did a really poor job at proofreading the book. There’s ‘scared’ instead of ‘sacred’, ‘cwith’ instead of ‘with’ and many such typos time and again which really take away from the pleasure of reading the book smoothly.

There are a few things that are difficult to imagine – like a Kate Beckinsale type vampire slayer in Delhi in a salwar Kameez! Honestly? What’s the logic in her wearing a salwar kameez when she’s from NYC and could be much better off and accustomed to western wear like denims and tees? Wouldn’t that have been more comfortable in getting on with the day-to-day action instead of jumping around and fighting in a salwar kameez?! The entire action-heroine image dissolves in the sweetness of the salwar kameez! Well, let’s hope Adi might change her attire to something more 'relatable' in the following sequels.

Overall, it was a nice book and the story is some-what gripping too, I liked the subtle but powerful climax which was visually appealing as well (if one would imagine). I hope the sequels don’t really indianise the essence of this book and the plot since the book, in parts, reminded me of the way Ashwin Sanghi’s Chanakya’s Chant was (interesting and engrossing) – rich in history but sophisticated in story.

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