Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Book Review - Tantra - Adi

Book: Tantra 
Author: Adi 
Price: Rs.144 @26% Discount at Flipkart 
Genre: Thriller 
No. of Pages: ~350 


Let me be honest here – I was prejudiced when I picked this up for review. We don’t need another Stephenie Meyer, and that too an Indian one. But, turned out I was wrong – and I blame the poorly designed book cover and the short synopsis behind the book for it. They are very misleading. Though I should have guessed from the name of the book itself, the book has very little resemblance to SM's Twilight. 

Synopsis: (Spoiler Alert!) 
So, there is the Vampire-hunter girl in New York, who decides to move to Delhi in order to track down her boyfriend’s killer – a vampire (duh!). The vampire-hunting scene in Delhi is a bit different than what she is used to. Delhi has bigger evils to worry about than Vampires. And that forms the base of Tantra. Baba Senaka is a godman who practices dark magic (killing children, sitting on mounds of human skull, and the works) to become the most powerful man on earth. Wooden stakes (and other vampire-hunting tools) will not work against him. Therefore, she seeks the help of a paranoid librarian, Dr. Sharma, to beat evil. 

So, the gist of the story is the cat and mouse game between Anu (the heroine) and Baba Senaka (the villain). Add in some bearable comedy, poke fun at Indian culture, and more than one man (and a vampire?) who has the hots for the heroine and we have Tantra by Adi.

The climax is all about how Anu and her team try to stop Baba from becoming an all-powerful being through the sacrifice of hundreds of children.

The Author: 
Who is Adi? Why is there no last name? For some weird unexplainable reason, I was bugged throughout the book about this. Turns out, there is a short bio at the end of the book. The acknowledgements were also placed at the end of the book. In hindsight, I like this – like the book, the author too seems like a mystery. 

He has written quite well compared to some of the recent books that I have read. Better proof-reading was required. But not many errors that would make you cringe though. (At one place I think he got the name “Smiti” wrong as “Swati”). But yeah, these are all bearable errors for a debut book. His style of writing is quite good. He could have avoided the “maybe-my-book-could-become-a-movie-someday” style of explaining things. But overall, I would rate him a 4 out of 5 – like I said, maybe it has something to do with the standard of the last few books I had read.

What I liked Best: 

  • All characters in India were well portrayed – the hunter who wants to quit, the holier-than-thou godman, the brash Delhi boy in the pub, the shy Indian groom trying for an arranged marriage, etc. But the heroine was a little larger than life – or maybe that is just me. 
  • The theme itself is quite a shock. Never heard of a bolder Indian author. This was a really, really, risky subject for a first book. Hats off to the mysterious Adi and his publisher for this. 
  • Not purely vampire-gibberish – a lot of Hindy mythology stuff included. Really excites the Indian reader. 

What could have been Better:

  • The book cover – Arrgh!!! I just can’t bear it. Please get a better designer for your sequel. 
  • The summary behind the book – not good – hardly generates any interest. 
  • Too many loose ends – I know there is going to be a sequel (and it will deal with the boyfriend’s killer) – but could have addressed the little elephants in the room – what happened to the current crush, Gaurav, and the vampire-friend, Chandra. 
  • The biggest fail of all – Many things that the author assumed that we know:
    + Shifting – What the hell is shifting? Am I supposed to know that? Is this a common thing that everyone does in New York and Delhi? Sorry, I have not been to both cities.
    + There is a scene where Anu asks “Ashed?” and her colleague says, “Ashed!” Okay, this has to be a reference to how Vampires cannot survive in sunlight and turn to ash. Assuming that everyone knows about this is a mistake – is the author’s target reader a teenager who is doe-eyed over Twilight? Even so, according to Twilight, they don’t turn to ash, they just Shine bright like a Diamond :P 

My Rating: This is a 3.5 out of 5 
This is an above average book – though it is not for everyone. It is very different from what any Indian author has ever attempted. The book has its flaws, but most can be overlooked. It is a fun read to imagine that vampires exist among us, as one of us. And that the powers locked within our Vedas and Puranas are much more than we can probably fathom. The story is well-woven, though to unravel most mysteries, you will have to wait for the sequel. It is well-written, a wee bit clichéd at times, but it is not a strain to read. You will enjoy it if you are into the Supernatural kinda things. 

Adi has managed to keep me thrilled throughout for the mere reason that the book was not what I expected it to be – Adi is (thankfully) no Stephenie Meyer (Yes, I am not a big fan of SM). It took me around 3 hours to finish this – and I am surprised to say that I enjoyed it. Like I said multiple times, I was prejudiced when I picked this up – but it was much more than I expected it to be. It is an interesting and bold look at India with a strong woman at the centre of it all. This book is something you could read during that boring train journey. Easy on the brain, crisp and simple language, and a well-woven story make it a fun read. A lot of things have been left unexplained – which I guess will be in the next book. Will I really go for the sequel – there is a good chance I might. 

Well done, Adi. Pretty well done for a first book – Remember to thank your publisher (again) for trusting in you enough to publish such a bold and different book.

I would definitely recommend this book to the young and the young at heart who are thrilled by the supernatural and mystical. Not to others.

Happy Reading! 

A Special note:
@The Author - Sorry for the delay in posting the review to your book. There have been a series of unfortunate (personal) events that lead to the delay in my posting this review. The awesome crew at BlogAdda are not responsible for the delay. All the best.

@BlogAdda - You guys are awesome. Thanks for being patient with me despite having delayed this review. Thanks again. You rock!

This is not a paid review and all views expressed here are mine alone. This (honest) review is a part of BlogAdda's Book Review Program. Participate now to get free books.

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