21 January, 2016

#BookReview :: The Reengineers by Indu Muralidharan

Chinmay Narayan is plotting to kill himself. He is a misfit at school, his parents are about to divorce and the love of his life doesn’t know he exists. It seems pointless to go on with such a dysfunctional life. But before he gets anywhere with that plan, Chinmay and his friends, Anu and Sabi, stumble into the eerie world of Conchpore through a portal in Uncle RK’s library. 

They find themselves in The Seeker’s School, where you can buy spiritual courses that will bring you enlightenment. While the seekers seem unaware that there is anything amiss, Chinmay and his friends stumble upon a strange and sinister plot that the teachers and students are caught up in. The three youngsters suddenly find themselves in danger, and their only hope is the charismatic Siddharth, an old student of the school who has come to visit. Chinmay discovers that Siddharth is seeking catharsis from his dark past by writing a book—a book with Chinmay as the protagonist. He realizes that his own story is a mirror image of Siddharth’s, which leads to a moment of reckoning for him: can he become the author of his own life?

Set in Madras in the early nineties, The Reengineers dispels the boundaries between fiction and reality to tell a tale that is as much a coming-of-age story as it is an inspiring narrative of self-empowerment and spiritual growth.

The blurb of the book somehow reminded me of the Chronicles of Narnia. It is probably because of the mention of a secret portal hidden in a library that takes you to a different world on the whole. So, when the author approached me, I immediately agreed to read and review the book. 

Chinmay Narayan, our protagonist, feels like a misfit in his own life. He feels depressed and that his life is out of control what with him being overwhelmed by a dysfunctional family and unrequited love. A chance accident leads him to discover a whole new world in Conchpore along with his friends Anurag and Sabarmati. It proves to be a turning point in his life - new place, new people and new rules. But something is definitely not right, but what can Chinmay do about it? How does one get back to the real world? And would Chinmay want to go back? And what does the mysterious Siddharth have to do with anything?

After a somewhat slow start the book picks up the pace as Chinmay and his friends discover Conchpore. Soon we meet a myriad of characters who build up the story to its apex with their inputs. But in the end it is Siddharth and Chinmay who stand out the most. Their characters are eerily similar yet so different at the same time. Chinmay turned out to be a character who is easy to relate to and felt very real. His story probably reflects many true life stories. His issues were real issues and while some people may roll their eyes at them, I know that at that age, many of us have felt in the same way. Things that were not that important felt life like altering experiences while we overlooked a lot of what were actually life changing events and did not realize it till much later. Anurag and Sabarmati makes for ideal sidekicks on an adventure like this, though I did wish for more depth in them.

Chunmay’s journey through the novel – his realizations and process of self discovery, is really what this book is all about. It was endearing to see him finally grow up, out of his shell and really see himself and his life for what they really are. The fact that this is the author’s debut work brings me hope as she has selected a premise that is not too heavy yet is very real. The book could have done with another round of editing as the language did seem to slip at a few points. But nothing too serious to take away much from the reading experience.

If you are bored of reading the same run-of-the-mill romance that couple of authors seem to be churning out every few months, do give this one a try. It will not be a life changing experience, but it will probably prove to be a good change.

Review Copy received from the Author

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