THE VANISHING HALF.

Author: Brit Bennett.

Genre: Contemporary family drama, historical fiction.

Triggerwarnings: racism, domestic violence, colourism.

Rating: 4⭐

Teenage light skinned black identical twins, Desiree and Stella Vigne, elope from a small town called Mallard in Louisiana. But soon after, Stella just vanishes leaving behind nothing but a note for Desiree. Years later, Desiree returns to Mallard with her dark skinned daughter Jude, while Stella continues to live hidden as a white woman with her white husband and their daughter, Kennedy, abandoning her own family. Their lives reach a full circle when their respective daughters come face to face unintentionally threatening to unveil the lie on which Stella has built the foundation of her new life.

This is one of the best recommendations I have received. While the theme of the book is colourism, racism and domestic violence, it also highlights the prejudice of colorism within the community. It was disturbing and empowering at the same time. It shows how the colour of the skin determines a lot of aspects in the lives of the people. It talks about the extent to which black and coloured people are shunned, that they don’t mind losing their own identity in order to be accepted. Characterization by the skin colour is prominent in the story to emphasize on the affects of racism. It hovers on the idea of bigotry, ethnicity, regret and a life based on a compulsive lie.

This book is a non- linear, multi- generational story of the Vigne twins. The characters are dynamic, raw, and show their grey side of survival. I was able to get into the flow of its smooth narration easily. There is an audiobook on YouTube that you can check out.

THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE.

Author: V. E. Schwab.

Genre: Fantasy Novel.


Suffocated by the conservative expectations by the society, Adeline starts praying to the Gods for her freedom. On her wedding day, her prayer is answered by a devil, who grants her immortality in exchange for her soul that she would eventually surrender willingly. Also, as her wish for freedom, she would be not be remembered by anyone after their first meeting. From then on she lives her every single day travelling around, free and forgotten. While at it, she constantly tries to leave a mark on the world. She follows a chaotic yet predictable routine until one fine day she meets Henry, who remembers her after their first meeting. The idea of someone remembering her intrigues her. Excited, she decides to pursue him to know more about this glitch in the curse.

The timeline keeps shifting from the present to her past in a non-linear narration. She lives a free life for almost three centuries with an impromptu visit from the devil whom she later names Luc, challenging her to surrender, which she ofcourse, refuses every single time.  While her journey is interesting and adventurous it lacks substance about the major historical events that she apparently witnesses. There is a casual mention of some world occurrences in the passing without much of her contribution or opinion. The story seemed more about her love affairs, the many first dates, pilfering for survival, her struggle to leave a mark and other escapades. Inspite of her being immortal, the purpose of her freedom seemed unchallenged and frivolous. Addie’s character felt superficial which lacked depth about her feelings about the surroundings. The years pass so casually in the story as if they are minutes without much of a consolation.

Having said that, I loved the language, the fluidity, the influence on the art and culture yet it felt incomplete to me. I needed more about her journey, her encounters and not just her one night stands. The whole world transformed multifold during the three centuries,  but there is hardly any mention of its effect on her.

If I just overlook the previous analysis, I really liked the prose of the story. It is a slow read which demands your rapt attention as you might miss certain developments in this strangely laid out timeline. Read this book for the structure of the thought of being forgotten every moment in this world where we do everything possible only to be remembered.

EMPEROR OF SARAVAT.

Book 1: The King is dead.

Author: Manoj Shital Bhavnani

Genre: Fiction

After years of war and bloodbath, the Peninsula Continent of Saravat is finally tranquil. The five ancient counties of Saravat have signed a peace treaty and a promise to unite against the foreign invader. But what would they do if one of them turns hostile and shakes the quiet yet vigil calmness of the continent for their own ambitions? An ambition to become “The Emperor of Saravat.”

Vijendra, the king of Vajrapur, brutally kills King Giridhar of Simhasthala, their neighbouring kingdom while the crown prince Vikrant watches from afar in the battlefield. Vijendra puts forth terms in front of the now King Vikrant which puts him in a spot. Either ways he cannot escape the brunt of the decision.

Vikrant is considered a weakling for the choices he has made since childhood, an impression he carries even now. Unfazed, he takes a decision which makes his own people doubtful of his character. But is he really ‘a rabbit’ that they call him, or are they underestimating the Simhasthali King? Only time will tell!

The first book ‘The King is Dead’ of the series started with a bang, piqued my senses leaving me hungry for more. I devoured this book. Start to finish an intriguing tempo is maintained, with few interesting twists in the plot. 

A lot of thought is put into the structure of the series which will be unfolded in the coming books. Though all the characters show varied shades of grey, they are dynamic, relentless and passionate. The female characters play a very important role in this patriarchal drama and have not been shrugged of as a mere vessel. This is the story of power, strategies, lust, betrayal, revenge and redemption.

I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and am waiting for the next book in anticipation. Hoping to find the characters bloom to widen the plot and make it even more interesting.

“The battle is never over until the king is dead.
Though he hates to admit it, Vijendra’s words ring true.. the price must be paid. In blood.
Only one question remains.
Is he willing to pay it?”

The next book coming in 2023.

Book 1: The King is dead.

BOOK NAME: URBAN CHRONICLES II

Author: Nita Bajoria @bajorianita

Edition: Paperback.

#Targetreader: Adults, parents, guardians.

#Rating: 4 ⭐

Genre: Graphic short stories.

▪️About the book:

Urban Chronicles ll is the second book in the graphic short stories series. It has three stories that centres upon the perils of the children of urban lifestyle where parents though provide everything superficially, fail to understand the child’s psychology. It shows how parents try to over protect, over provide, over discipline and are over ambitious with their children and in that process fail to address the child’s psychological needs.

▪️ My opinion:

All the three stories have beautiful illustrations and narration is expressive. The first story slightly irked me as i felt as it justified kidnapping with no reprimand. The reason for which the young woman kidnapped a child was not acceptable. Having said that, the stories impart a wonderful message of compassion for urban parents towards their children in this fast paced, high tech, competitive world. My favourite story is ‘Three women in a boat’. It was warm and relatable. It depicts parental anxiety that is passed on to next generations. A must read graphic novel for all grown ups.

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