Category: Book Reviews


American Psycho

I came across the title when I saw the movie with the same name and based on the book itself. The lead was played out by Christian Bale…… but wait that’s not relevant…..whatever it is, I was intrigued (and rather confused) by the movie’s plot so I decided I would read the book.

The author of the book is Bret Easton Ellis, whom I confess I had never heard of before this. The story is set in the yuppie culture of the early 90s. It is about a young highly placed investment banker called Patrick Bateman (remember Norman Bates, from Psycho? I caught that one immediately) and his life, the whole story being narrated by Patrick himself. The first part of the story we come to know about the everyday life of Bateman, as he gossips with his colleagues, ogles at random “hard bodies” , goes to rave parties and fusses over music. The book is definitely a treat for music lovers as every now and then , Bateman goes on to give lengthy descriptions of different genres of music popular at the time, sometimes even describing a particular band or a song. The first part is thus mostly mundane, with Bateman giving only the slightest hint of the insanity that he is holding down beneath the surface.

As the story progresses, we see Bateman’s mask of sanity slowly slipping away. He starts giving in to his violent desires at whim, and shocks us as he randomly chooses his victims. The thing is, he “descends” into madness. It’s a slow process. At first, he shows some vestige of control, which weakens throughout the book. His treatment of his victims grows more sadistic and gory.

As the story progresses and Bateman is slipping, we can get a feel of it from his narration too. The world grows more and more bizarre. Bateman claims that he is being followed wherever he goes, despite evidence to the contrary. Also, he fills up an entire cross word puzzle with the words “bones” and “meat” and does not realize it. The concept of time in the story is confusing, as he keeps on mixing up his appointments and dates.

There is another element of surrealism in the fact that the characters keep on confusing people’s names. Bateman himself is many a times referred to as Marcus Halberstam.  This occupies quite some space in the book. Since it is his own narration, we can thus understand his madness, yet understand nothing of the world.

In my opinion, Bret Easton Ellis has churned out a classic. The first part of the book was rather boring, since the author describes mundane activities to quite some length. But as the story progresses, we realize that the first part gels well with the rest of the story. The author has attached a lot of importance to the whole process of Bateman’s descent into madness. It’s a slow process. At first he attaches some motive with his kills, like professional envy. But as the story progresses, he does it on impulse.

It was a brilliant book, a good story with an awesome narration. Kind of slow paced, but it goes well with the overall plot.

This story gets a 4.5/5 from me and if you are into psychological books then this one is a must read. It’s a psychological book though, not a psycho-thriller. Keep that in mind.

1984 by George Orwell

The idea of a dystopian existence and the brutalities that chequer the game–board of a totalitarian regime is something that our minds can accept, thanks to the relentless bombardment of images of babies with swollen bellies and blast radius debris. We formulate our notions of good and bad, ethical and immoral based upon what we see.We find solace in the fact that every regime can be countered by a revolt initiated by collective action. But what if this right to reason were taken away from us by a process of brutal indoctrination. Here in lies the basis for George Orwell’s book 1984.

Big Brother is watching you!!

1984 tells the story of a world that has been reduced to just three blocks of land called the Super States. A world where war is waged not for control over resources, world markets or power but rather to expend over-produced goods and maintain a certain standard of living among the strata of society so as to ensure that power remains in the hands of a few. A world where censorship is so baffling that the past is altered to suit the governments needs. Surviving in this world is our protagonist Winston Smith and his struggle to accept the world around him and whether he would succumb to the much feared brutal indoctrination in “ROOM 101”.

The most exciting and simultaneously disturbing part of the book is the compelling commentary explaining the bizarre principles of the totalitarian regime such as:

WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

1984 is by far one of the scariest books I have ever read. Just the thought of a terrorist leafing though its pages at the transit lounge of an airport, reading and imbibing its disturbing content gives me the jitters. The irony of the book is that it can serve as an instrument that can inspire as well as incite extremist thought.

As absurd as the statement may seem .I hope 1984 never happens.Not now,not ever.

Don’t miss out on this book. Its gonna leave you dazed, fazed and most definitely amazed.

Gone, But Not Forgotten

One fine day I decided that I was bored and would pick up the first book I would come across. And hence I ended up with ‘Gone, But Not Forgotten’ by Phillip Margolin.

Those who are familiar with Margolin’s work would know that he specializes in legal thrillers, half the time involving serial killers. This book, not surprisingly, is of the same genre.

The story is set in Portland and follows Elizabeth Tannenbaum, a criminal lawyer who had recently become famous as a feminist advocate. The world turns upside down after she is hired by multi-millionaire businessman Martin Darius. Young and wealthy socialites are being murdered and to nail the murderer, Tannenbaum has to dig into her client’s horrific past.

Well, to say the truth, I was hoping for some detective job in the book. There was none. There was no clue finding, elementary deducting. Everything was done by interrogation and pulling out theories from the air. Oh, well. Was there any mystery? If the author was trying to prevent the reader from guessing the killer, then CONGRATULATIONS! He succeeded, by introducing the killer’s character when the book is nearly over….. sorry for the spoiler, I had to say this.

Nevertheless, coming to the pros. The book has a decent narration, jumping between Hunter’s Point in the past and Portland in the present. That, and a good pace. For all its shortcomings, it never drags anywhere. That would explain how I finished this book in one sitting.

OVERALL, I give this book 2.5/5. Sorry Mr.Margolin, I prefer your other books. Read this only if you have nothing else. As far as this book is concerned, its gone and forgotten.

Mistborn: The Final Empire

This book was suggested to me by a good friend of mine, though, at first, I was reluctant since fantasy genre had nearly always let me down ( just so everyone knows, for me Tolkien is no longer “fantasy”, its mythology, epic) . But thanks to his good judgment, I did not miss a fantastic story.

The book is set in a dystopian fantasy world ruled by an empire called ‘the Final Empire’ presided over by a tyrant god known only as The Lord Ruler. The population is divided into Nobles and skaa. Needless to mention, the Noble minority are filthy rich, while the majority skaa are a poor and oppressed lot. Vin, a half-skaa street urchin, is chosen by Kelsier, a powerful and charismatic Mistborn, to be his disciple. (Mistborns are people who are gifted with wide ranging allomantic powers. What is allomancy? READ the book.)

Kelsier and his crew seek to overthrow one who has ruled the Final Empire like a God for hundreds of years in what seems like a bloody and impossible revolution. Vin has to struggle against her inner turmoil while fighting Nobles, Lord Ruler’s minions, Kelsier’s megalomania and even her own feeling’s for a handsome nobleman.

The book near entirely follows Vin in third person, and we come to know more and more about the world from her perspective. This is why childish notion of good and evil, which is strong at first, soon starts getting blurred as the story progresses. The author has paid a decent amount of space for character development. Resulting in rounded characters and this is about one of the things that I like most about the book. In nearly all of the fantasy books that I had read so far, there is a very sharp distinction between good and evil. This book is a raging debate on which is preferable, order and suppression or anarchy and freedom. The book is breathlessly paced which may not appeal to all, but I felt that it suited the story well.

The concept of magic in the book is ingenious and not some stupid harry potter-ish wand waving. Kudos to the author for thinking up such an amazing concept.

Moreover, the book is incomplete as far as the bigger story is concerned, and is followed up nicely by its sequels. Many questions are answered in the sequels so if you can’t understand something, hold your horses!

OVERALL, I give it a 4.5/5. It’s a gem of a fantasy novel and a must read. Don’t miss it. All hail Brandon Sanderson!

P.S. : don’t miss the beautiful cover design by Jon Foster.

Marilyn Monroe. Unseen Archives by Marie Clayton

A lady globally accepted to be a legend, a lady globally admired yet wrongly stereotyped as a ‘dumb blond’, yes, MARILYN MONROE was a lot of things but never a dumb blond. This book is a reliable window to the real character and the complex and beautiful persona of Norma Jeane Mortenson turned sex symbol  and the adorable actor MARILYN MONROE (1926-1962).

Most of us have heard the name and have undeniably seen pictures of her more than once in our lives, but how many of us have had the courtesy to look beyond the stereotype description that the world came up for probably the worlds most intrinsically photogenic, commercially successful, and arguably one of the best multi-talented actors of all time. This book is a great place to start knowing the beautiful person and even more wonderful work of art turned artist, the one and only MARILYN MONROE.

The book is a compilation of photos that stretch far from the usual on screen stills and the scantly clad pics of the beautiful lady. It is an extensively researched and chronologically categorized archive of photographs that describe the complex, glamorous, extremely short and tumultuous life of the legend. It takes great pain about being correct and sympathetic about the unfortunate personal life that Marilyn Monroe lived and gives great focus on her short and spectacular career as a renowned Hollywood Star in every sense of the phrase.

It is a book that cannot be outmatched in any way for the beauty of the subject matter it covers. Every page of the book is thing of beauty by virtue of focusing on putting a moment of the life of arguably the most beautiful female body ever to walk the surface of the earth into perspective of the reader. Hence a true collectors item in every sense of the word. (Small and affordable too at under the Rs 300/- mark)

I would be correct in saying that this photo biography of MARILYN MONROE focuses on bringing out that side of the ‘dumb blond’, that side that encompasses the disturbing childhood, the lady in her that could never be loved more, all the failed marriages, all the male characters in her life that have tried and at times succeeded in taking advantage of her, the inherent sense of insecurity she felt, and a very aspiring and hard working artist who has always excelled and constantly tried to perfect her mastery in the craft that slowly but steadily consumed her. I can be sure that after going through this book, no one will feel easy hearing someone call this spectacular lady a ‘dumb blond’.

“Dogs never bite me, just humans”… Marilyn Monroe

The Painter Of Signs

This is my first attempt at a book review. I have decided to start with one of my all time favourite author R. K. Narayan’s bittersweet tale of two lovers set in Malgudi, a town like any other in India, but unique in its own beautiful way.

The Painter of Signs is about Raman, a signboard painter, a professional in the true sense of the word. He is a rationalist who has an air of aestheticism about him. Narayan portrays Raman’s struggle to try to make the people around him see his point of view by quizzical dialogs  which Raman conducts with himself throughout the book. Raman lives with his traditional aunt, whose only pleasures in life, it would seem, was tending to Raman’s needs, reminiscing about her past and taking up the name of God.

A delightful read...

Enter Daisy. A highly independent and attractive young woman, who believes in “Women Power” and has a sole aim of reducing the growth rate of the Indian Population. She enlists Raman’s help for painting signs and slogans all across the surrounding villages and thus begins one of the greatest love stories of all time or wait is it??

As he has done time and again, Narayan, has touched upon a variety of subjects through his characters and has managed to give life to even the most inanimate of things through his story-telling techniques. The beauty of this and all of Narayan’s works lies in the fact that anybody, from a 10-year-old to an 80-year-old, can read them, feel contented and laugh at his humor.

So, grab a copy of The Painter of Signs, to know more about Raman, Daisy and their signboards.