A THRILLING NOVEL ABOUT ZOMBIES
THE BOOK: The Girl With All The Gifts by MR Carey
THE GIST: A desolate Britain, destroyed by a zombie apocalypse. A small number of human beings are holding out against the undead at a fortified army base of sorts. This is also home to children infected with the zombie fungus (but who retain the ability to think rationally, learn and react to most human emotions). Melanie, a 10-year-old kid, is living out her routine life as a test subject for scientists trying to find a cure. Until an incident forces them to leave the base.
READ IT FOR: An interesting zombie back story. The ‘hungries’ have all been infected by Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, an actual fungus. Here, it attaches itself to a host body (ants usually), kills the ant but continues to grow. Then the fungal spores burst and latch on to other unfortunate ants. Pretty cool, right? And the way this fungus hops over species, infecting human beings is cooler still.
QUICK REVIEW: It’s difficult to shove past clichés when writing horror (more so if you narrow it down to a niche – like zombie novels) but this is a commendable departure from the usual.
CAUTION: Predictably, there is scientific insight and jargon. And a subtext of science vs morality.
BEST LINES: You can’t save people from the world. There’s nowhere else to take them.
-by Asad Ali
HANDS DOWN, THIS IS BOOK OF THE MONTH
THE BOOK: No Country by Kalyan Ray
THE GIST: It is the year 1989 and twin murders unfold with surprising calm on the first page of this book. Then the novel draws you in, lightly by the hand at first and then with a kind of magnetism that drags you – headfirst – across two continents over two centuries, chasing two bloodlines through potato fields in Ireland, mangrove forests in Bengal, the tomb of a pir in Dhaka, Calcutta at Partition, an iceberg in the Atlantic and, incredibly, the Jallianwala Bagh massacre.
This is a book about homes, lost and found, and the journeys to their reclamation; this is a book about the yearning for an identity; this is a book about what it means to belong to a country.
QUICK REVIEW: In his beautiful voice, Ray has created characters that seem to glow out the pages with their humanness, each voice fragile and strong at once, grappling with its own set of heartache and history.
READ THIS IF: You’re into masterful storytelling, gripping narratives and/or love books in general.
CAUTION: This is a book that WILL take its time and only when it’s done with you, some 50 hours later, will you emerge – dazed, bruised, stronger and irrevocably in love.
BEST LINES: If I think of nations, it is when they are misbehaving, or are playing sports like good boys. What does it mean to belong to a nation? Is it the accident of birth? Is it a memory, a yearning for some obscure stamp on the soul, some tune that plays in the blood? Or is it what others insist you are – painting your corner of the room around you?
THE ONE WITH POWERFUL PROTAGONIST
THE BOOK: The Legend of Ramulamma by Vithal Rajan
THE GIST: A poor, widowed Dalit midwife in a village in the Deccan relies on her political acumen, flair for drama and shrewdness to deliver the poor from injustice, bring powerful landlords to book and navigate her way around the system cleverly. The 12 stories in the book give us a window to her colourful life and all the flavours of the village around her.
QUICK REVIEW: The book is simple, in terms of language and content, but nuanced. The characters are all well-defined and loaded with perspective. And the many sides of Ramulamma – caring, fiercely loyal, clever, a drama queen, naïve, shrewd and a fantastic liar – make her a deliciously fleshed-out character.
READ IF YOU LIKE: RK Narayan and his fictional village of Malgudi
CAUTION: While the author tries delving into the deeply complex and often inter-connected problems in society, most situations get resolved a little too easily. And as much as we all love happy endings, the sheer simplicity of it all starts to ring false.
BEST LINES: Ramulamma had known the sub-inspector for a long time, but no one in his right mind would say they were friends – that accusation would have been rejected by both with contempt.
-by Jyotsna Raman
Also read: Why Ashwin Sanghi, James Patterson should write a Bollywood thriller
From HT Brunch, August 3
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