Thursday, 12 May 2016

Book Review - You Raise Me Up

Author – Arjun Hemmady
Publisher – Leadstart
Genre – Fiction
Pages – 363
Price - Rs. 325

Sneak Preview from the cover
Aalok Sharma, a 27-year old chartered accountant, meets the vivacious and beautiful Priyanka Mehra, on a flight from Delhi to Mumbai. They are instantly attracted to each other, though completely opposition nature. However, something is holding Aalok back. Will this thing throw a spanner in their love story? Or will he be able to overcome his demons

First Impressions
A confused guy lost in the thoughts of a girl on the cover gets the readers guessing. Is he smitten by this girl? Is she the cause of the troubled expression? Even the title couldn't provide any direction. With mixed thoughts (I avoid reading the summary on the back cover, for its fun trying to make wild guesses by merely looking at the book cover), I knew the only option was to get reading.

My view
When the author of a romantic fiction mentions he has never been any relationship, or worse still; has never ever read a romantic novel, the reader gets skeptical. It's like writing a book on medicine without having any knowledge of the trade! I wondered why was the author risking his debut with an absolutely unknown genre. Either he put this disclaimer to reassure his parents, or was weaving a story based on his perceptions (sounds too risky); for it is tough to write about relationships without having experienced even one! 

But, sometimes writing without pre conceived notions help provide a fresh outlook to an otherwise predictable story.

When the story begins with a shy and simple Aalok meeting a confident and extrovert Priyanka on a flight, I could instantly make out that the author was not lying in his introduction. The way Priyanka started the conversation with Aalok was a bit hard to chew.  Right at beginning of the story itself, I got a favour of Delhi v/s Mumbai (Aalok was from Mumbai while Priyanka from Delhi). 

Also, I didn't know one could identify a CA, if a person is silent and carries Economic Times in his bag! Oh! I love reading debuts and the fearless experimentations and expressions! 

Aalok's character is well shaped up throughout the book. Intelligent, sincere, sensitive, caring, loving, he has all the qualities a girl looks for in her ideal man. When it comes to giving freedom in his relationships, Aalok goes a bit too far; which is why one finds him dominated by women throughout the story. However, it is Priyanka who often surprises the readers with her unexpected moves. On one hand, while on the flight, she made a bold first move at Aalok, in the scene that immediately follows, she tries to portray herself as the conservative and reserved girl from another city.

But, this is just the trailer. There are many surprises from Priyanka's end for the readers. 

When Priyanka discovers there is no reservation for her in the hotel, she offered to spend a night at Aalok's house. I mean, weren't there any other hotels in the town? And one remembers that just 2 pages back, madam expressed her concern about travelling alone with a stranger.

But some people are in fact like that - unpredictable, spontaneous and straight forward. As one moves forward, Priyanka's actions continue to surprise. She gallops her way into Aalok's life and often, the reader suspects her actions as calculated moved towards something dangerous. As Aalok's sister once mentions, Priyanka surely is a drama queen!

Aalok though, almost reminded me of the Shahid Kapur of "Jab We Met"

Just when one starts enjoying the funny incidents in Aalok and Priyanka's cute love story comes a twist in the tale. Aalok has a past which holds him back to take things forward with Priyanka, who by now is head over heels with him. Worse, Aalok conceals from Priyanka the fact that he was once married. And thus begins the long flashback of Aalok's past, Tanvi his first love, their triumphs and failures.

It is here that the story falls prey to drags. What seems like a small flashback just refuses to get over. By the time one is through reading about Aalok's bitter experiences with his first marriage, the tired mind says "Priyanka who? What was she doing when we read about her last?" Finally, when the readers get a hang of what's going on, one finds Aalok stuck between his first love Tanvi, and Priyanka who gave Aalok a fresh lease of life when his life had lost its meaning.

But life still goes on. And when one reads the last page, there is a smile of appreciation both for Aalok and the author - Aalok, for being level headed and sticking to his strong value system even in times of strong emotional dilemma; the author for giving an ending that is uninfluenced by what usually sells. 

Another character that is shaped up beautifully is Aalok's sister Isha. She is the kid sister every brother would love to have - loving, caring, protective, intelligent. In her the naive Aalok finds the perfect friend, philosopher and guide. 

The author with his straight forwardness has a lot of potential and perhaps with a bit more reading of the romance genre, the next book will surely rock! If you are good with skimming, you will find the book a quick and enjoyable read. I would recommend the book for it's fresh outlook towards relationships.

My rating - 2.25/5

What I loved 

  • The narrative is funny and characters well shaped up, especially Aalok and Isha. Isha the mischievous yet sensible kid sister beautifully compliments the honest, sincere and straight forward Aalok.
  • The story strikes a chord with the youth with the excitement and challenges of love usually faced in relationships.
  • The book gives a very strong message against alcoholism and how badly it can corrode one's life.

What could have been better

  • The narrative about Aalok's past drags badly and the reader is forced to skim through to know what finally happens in his present. A little scissor work on the elaborate dialogues would have helped.
  • When you are writing your debut, typos and grammatical errors can be such a spoilsport. Pg 154 (Do you what they'll start thinking?; Pg 204 (Hey about we have a cup of coffee); pg 220 (Do you What? This guy is so good)
This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

3 comments:

  1. great review. prompts me to pick up the book

    ReplyDelete
  2. 'I avoid reading the summary on the back cover, for its fun trying to make wild guesses by merely looking at the book cover' .... So Shaivi , I do share your Funda ( Shaivi Ka Funda ) or reading books

    ReplyDelete

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