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Book Review of “The Ordeal” by Mangesh Jadhav

The Ordeal

 by Mangesh Jadhav

We know that USA is capable of quite a lot. Or so it projects in movies and books. But interfering with nature…who would’ve thought!

Mangesh Jadhav’s first offering, a sci-fi one at that, (The Ordeal) is quite entertaining and thrilling. I wasn’t sure how well my mind would receive it- but I was zapped at being hooked on to it from the very first page.

So what’s the story like- you ask? Well we have NASA and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) working on a satellite that can be used for military purposes. And then you have Russia with its undercover agents reporting the secret to its country, and them coming up with plans to counter it, and therein lies the fantastic plot. How it is brought forth and faced makes for a great read.

For a debut writer, Mangesh has used crisp, clean and very free flowing language that is not only easy but also grammatically fine. (Such relief there.)

The characters are very strong and impactful. Michael Jones, the lead protagonist is a CIA agent. His personality almost reflects through the pages. He is in charge of keeping the mission a secret, and what a fine job he does.
Then we have Suzanne Owen (Private Secretary of CIA’s Director) –a beautiful young lady and Michael’s love interest.
The other cast includes: Dr. Nina Portman, the greedy scientist who can’t but keep a secret for the country and sells her soul to the devil (read: Russians); Dr. Stephen Wilson of NOAA, the one to begin the experiment in the first place, and a bunch of Russians (Alexander Kofman, Andrei Yavlinsky, Vladimir Ivanov, Sergi Nemstor, etc.) who complete the picture in a splendid way.

Another good thing about the novel is the ease of reading it brings- well spaced lettering and smooth language- makes reading sort of uninterrupted and the 400 odd pages did not seem a task, really. The narrative is quite linear. Which is a good thing I guess.

The thriller was thoroughly enjoyed. Crisp plot, remarkable twists, pretty good detailing (sometimes a bit too much of it), it felt more real than just a story. Certain places the author could’ve/ should’ve left open-ended sentences/plots for the reader to interpret or assume or imagine. This would’ve engaged the reader more.

But overall, this is a MUST read- esp. coming from an Indian author- a great debut here!

Kudos!

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Book Review of Welcome To Americastan by Jabeen Akhtar

Welcome To Americastan           

By Jabeen Akhtar

Identity crisis does not seem to spare anyone. Be it an Indian, or a Pakistani, or a Britisher who have now made the United States of America their home.

Welcome to Americastan is one such novel that deals with not just the quest for one’s identity but also brings out the quirks in one’s life.

Samira is a Pakistani-American is dumped by her boyfriend (Ethan) of eight years in the weirdest manner.

 

He chooses her best friend over her. And this is not a pretty situation to be in. In a fit of anger, Samira tries to run him over but as fate would have it, she lands up on the FBI’s terror watch list. And this brilliant move of lands her behind the bars, which in turn sees her being fired from her job (of course!) as legislative aide to a Congressman.
This is just the onset of her problems. And it all goes down-hill from thereon, as she moves in with her eccentric family in North Carolina.

Her father is a strong supporter of the Pakistani American Council (PAC), and a weirdly funny man. His arguments will make you chuckle- sometime in disbelief, and sometimes…just! Her mother is a typical mother as anyone else’s. She ends up spiking the punch with rum, and grumbles all along as she prepares delicious meals for family and friends who seem to be forever visiting or piled up in their home. This also means that Samira’s and her siblings are always at the receiving end of their parents verbosities.
Sam’s parents know nothing of what she has been through and think she is on a vacation. But when the truth is revealed, apart from the trauma, there is much humor. Youngsters in the house seem to be living a dual life.
Amidst all the drama and dilemma and confusion, Samira nurses her broken heart and gathers her strength to stand up again to face the world with all its offerings.

I like the way the details of a typical Pakistani family are covered. From the blatant use of swear words to what’s happening where and how and by whom – the typical nosey-pokey stuff brings in a lot of humor and laughs. The quirks of a traditional family that has its youth bending towards the modern society, bring out the stark realities that immigrant families face. They don’t know where they belong- to Pakistan or to America or to both…and how.

There are glimpses of racism and sexism. There are traces of cultural loss. There are hints of identity crises. All woven in to a web of satire, sprinkled with humor and garnished with wit.
A fast paced read, the writing style is refreshing and captivating. The plot never fades out. In fact, it keeps you wanting to read further.

The author seems to have a clear picture of what she wants to show her readers and delivers just that. The humor and the narrative are bound to keep you hooked till the very end. At a point you’d want the pages to increase. Such is the grasp of the author.

I highly recommend this one.

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