23 June, 2016

#BookReview :: Karna's Alter Ego by Surendra Nath

Karna, the ill-fated hero of Mahabharata. Many feel he deserved to win. If only luck had favoured him...

5000 years later, we have a man named Vasu, who is much like Karna – illegitimate birth, very talented but denied all credits in life, rejected in love, misses a medal in the Asian games, gets caught for telling an innocent lie, overlooked for promotion. He begins to identify himself with Karna, and interestingly Karna appears to him after every debacle to assuage and encourage him.

It seems Vasu is Karna’s alter ego.

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Vasu has had the worst luck right from his birth. He feels that no matter how hard he works or how deserving he is, things never go his way. From being an illegitimate child to struggles through his school life – things only make him want to take charge of his own life. But whether it is his personal life or his professional life, things always slip out of his reach. His luck never seems to look up and smile at him. Vasu feels that his life mirrors the life of Karna – the ‘ill-fated hero of Mahabharata’. He feels so connected to Karna that Karna ‘appears’ to counsel him. The twist in the story comes in late – too late for Vasu? Or just in time after all?

The blurb of this book felt interesting because I loved the idea of a mythological character being re-invented in the modern era. Also, the mention of Karna appearing to assuage the protagonist reminded me of the Munnabhai MBBS movie as well. So, I had to take a chance with it.

Vasu is an interesting character. His life and his attitude towards life catch the attention of the reader right away. He makes the reader to want to get to know him and understand him. I felt it was the biggest asset of the book – the characterization of Vasu. He is someone who not only intrigues the readers but also manages to hold their attention throughout. There are quite a few other side characters that play important roles in the story. They were introduced and developed well enough to keep pace with Vasu. However, I wished that the author had chosen different names for them and wished for slightly different placements. The author’s choices in these two matters actually made the book very much predictable at so many important points. The story flow lagged at a few places where the narration felt a bit pushy and preachy. But for most parts, I felt that the author has done a good enough job with the narrative which was quite simple and restrained. The best part about the book is the way the author has laid out a simple plot that can be looked at many ways. It is up to the reader to decide how much they want to absorb from it. 

If you decide to pick up this book, I would recommend that you give it time – it may take a few pages to really get into the story and to ‘get’ the flow. But once you do, you will only put it down after finishing it. A good debut.

Review Copy received from the Author

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