Book Review: Elephants in The Room by Suraj Laxminarayanan

“Money was needed even to rob some money.” – Suraj Laxminarayanan

This week’s read is Elephants in The Room by Suraj Laxminarayanan, a crime-thriller that is definitely worth a read.

Here is what I thought…

Blurb:

A ragtag group of friends are planning a bank heist to end their cash crunch. Novices to crime, they are driven more by emotions than skill – their plan seems fool proof, or so they think.

In another part of the city, a gang of seasoned dacoits has botched up a job and now owes money to the local crime lord. They have to either pay up or pay for it with their lives – and time is running out… 

In a bizarre twist of fate, both these groups are brought face-to-face. Trapped in a situation beyond the realm of their planning and experience, they must think on their feet, form quick alliances and rally behind an unlikely leader.

Set against the backdrop of Chennai, where men sing gaana songs in kuppams (fishing hamlets) nestled against swanky glass-fronted buildings and life-size cut-outs of film stars and politicians, a story of love, greed, friendship, fate and the absurdity of the human condition unfolds.

Title:

The title has a tinge of comic sense to it which makes any reader want to pick it up right away. It is satirical and deep, adding to the story brilliantly. It complements the theme well. The author did a great job in picking out a title for this book. 

Title Rating – 5 / 5

Cover:

The cover, though muted and dull upon first glance, adds a lot of depth and intensity to what the book is trying to portray. While the image chosen is catchy, the colour scheme is slightly bland. 

Cover Rating – 3 / 5

Plot:

“He rested on the bed all day and all night, almost better off dead than alive.” – Suraj Laxminarayanan

As I started reading this book, I was wondering how the author would manage to create a lighthearted read from such a thrilling topic. The blend of humour into a crime filled plot line has been done brilliantly. This is one of the strongest points of the book.

“He shuddered in his seat, almost cowering as though a rain of glass showered over him.” –  Suraj Laxminarayanan

The language is fluent and simple to understand. The narration is in third person which I found quite apt given the plot of the novel. The dialogue oriented script adds to how engaging the story is. 

“Was this fake or or was it pure madness?”  – Suraj Laxminarayanan

It is a highly enjoyable read, with in-depth descriptions and beautiful explanations. The author did a fantastic job in managing the flow from start to end.

Plot Rating – 4 / 5

I loved…

  1. The Narrative
  2. The Minute Descriptions
  3. The Climax

I wanted…

  1. More one-liners and twists in the writing style
  2. A Crisp Blurb

Overall Rating: 4.5 / 5

Verdict: Worth A Read!

Order your copy from the link below:

Amazon India

Book Review: The Panchatheertha Part 1 by Rajiv Mittal

“The only qualification they needed to have was an intense dislike for each other.” – Rajiv Mittal

Hey there, readers! This week, I had the pleasure of reading a very unique book. It is called The Panchtheertha and it is the first part of the series by Rajiv Mittal. 

Let us get into the review, shall we?

Blurb:

The Panchatheertha (five pilgrimages) is an outrageously funny, satirical revision of sections 1 & 2 of The Panchatantra, the masterpiece Vishnu Sharma wrote between 1200 BCE to 300 CE. The stories are primarily about statecraft and full of wisdom and morals. Despite that, youngsters found them very entertaining. In the tales, animals act and speak on behalf of human beings. The series begins with a parent story that unfolds story after story; each strung to the other by a narrator.

Vishnu Sharma’s reincarnation Shiva Varma has, in this redraft, revived the ancient Indian tradition of parampara (continuation of knowledge from one guru to the next). In his excitement, he forgot the younger age group of his shishyas (students). His characters now try to explain the motives for their actions, also express their feelings; something The Panchatantra had cleverly avoided doing. Within its pages, animals are still made to think and behave like human beings but have not otherwise been harmed in any way.

The Panchatheertha was considered lost but the discovery of two altered strategies ‘The Loss of Friends’ and ‘Gaining Friends’ should create hope within the large and growing community that has had considerable success with the first and complete failure with the second. Those wanting to meet Shiva Varma are hereby informed he dislikes economists, preferring astrology. He is in samadhi (seclusion / deep meditation) and not in hiding.

There are many intriguing characters not known to Vishnu Sharma in this adaptation; from a sex consultant plying his trade in the locality Ajilundpenodhoka in district Makasam… to a devadasi (courtesan) wanting to conduct the temple prayers because she is bored… to Sage Narada Muni !!

Bibliophiles are urged to read the original Panchatantra (which Shiva Varma did consider including as an appendix), to truly appreciate the extent to which history gets distorted when it is made to explain itself. Historically, the appendix has been viewed as a vestigial organ with no real function. This is why Shiva Varma chose not to include it… or so he claims.

Title:

What I love about the title is how catchy it is. Though it is only one word, it holds a deep meaning to it and is quite a good idea by the author. With the meaning ‘five pilgrimages’, this title is apt for the story line and is perfect. 

Title Rating – 5 / 5

Cover:

I am not a huge fan of the cover, mainly because of how bright and distracting it is. It is difficult to read the title and the author’s name – but this is just my personal opinion. I wish it would have been more mellow or at least less blaring. 

Cover Rating – 2.5 / 5

Plot:

“The range of emotions which this created in the general public was evenly balanced between euphoria and despair.” – Rajiv Mittal

Within the first twenty pages of the book, I realized that this read was going to be a roller-coaster journey. Starting from the style of writing to the character portrayal, the author has done a splendid job in sketching a brilliant story.

“He thought all eunuchs were the creation of the devil.” –  Rajiv Mittal

Just like in the author’s debut novel, the language is fluent and simple to understand. The humourous lines and the sarcasm loaded into each paragraph makes this read utterly enjoyable. One of the strongest traits that the author possesses is his ability to create a continuous flow from start to finish. I particularly loved the involvement of the animals in the tale. 

“So whenever he wanted to restore harmony in life, which was often, he would go to the temple.”  – Rajiv Mittal

Overall, the read is pleasant and breezy. It leaves you with a good feeling the moment you are done with the last page.

Plot Rating – 4 / 5

I loved…

  1. The Satirical Writing Style
  2. The Conversations
  3. The Beginning 

I wanted…

  1. A Better Cover 
  2. More Descriptions of Scenes

Overall Rating: 4 / 5

Verdict: Worth A Read!

Order your copy from any of the links below:

Amazon India

Amazon (US)