Book Shelf

Archive for


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Image via Wikipedia

Frankenstein is a novel that was written on 1818 by Mary Shelly. Gothic fiction is new to me. This is the first novel I read in this genre.  The story is about Frankenstein, a scientist, who creates a monster in his research of giving life to some inanimate object and the horror he faces because of that monster.

It was a superbly written book that you will not feel bored while reading it. The novel contains three stories. One is of Frankenstein, other being the story of Walton to whom Frankenstein tells about his story and there is another one, the story about cottagers that was told by the monster to Frankenstein. The other two stories could be published as short stories or novellas on their own.

I read that the book was a bold attempt at 1818. But now you may feel there is nothing controversial, but 200 years ago, you never know.

Author tries to make you sympathize with the monster instead of fearing him. In my case, she succeeded.   When the monster explains his story, you will definitely feel sorry for him.

If you are accustomed to modern-day thrillers, like me, you may feel his most of the narration of his childhood are irrelevant to the actual story, though not boring. But when the title reads ‘Frankenstein’, we can conclude that it is the story of Frankenstein who created the monster as part of his experiment, not of the monster. So we cannot say that his childhood is not related.

Mary Shelly is too good in describing the sceneries.  Be it Geneva or Swiss mounts or the Rhine or the beautiful places in England and Scotland, all were described so neatly that you can imagine it well in your mind while reading, also it induces the traveler in you to try to visit these places.

I would suggest this to anyone who has the habit of reading.

My Rating for this classic is ★★★★☆


The Return of The Soldier

Cover of "The Return of the Soldier"

Cover of The Return of the Soldier

I was avoiding classics thinking they might be quite difficult to match my taste. But thankfully this book was chosen as January group read in the goodreads group. This book kindled my interest towards classics. Return of the soldier is a simple novel that deals with the emotions of the people in rather unusual situation.

The story line is simple. There was a guy, Chris, who loses his 15 years of memory due to the sudden shock while on duty. He thinks himself as 21 year old again and he forgets everything including his marriage.  The main line was about the three women, Kittie – his wife, Jenny – his cousin and Margaret – his erstwhile love that was broken 15 years ago and their emotions when they knew his memory was 15 years back when he was in love with Margaret, who now married to someone else.

In this novel, the story was told in the view of Jenny who was a confused soul, not explaining whether her affection towards Chris is a love or just adoration. This type of storytelling is quite new for me. As the story was told by Jenny, the characters explained as how Jenny thinks, not the actual one.

The novel deals with the human minds on some serious situations so it is somewhat going a bit slow. But it is a short novel- Just 46 pages in the e-book I downloaded – so you will not feel it is dragging.

The book was written in early 20th century, so you may feel some of the things are not relevant to the current advanced world. But the feelings of the human mind would never change even after a century, wouldn’t it?

I cannot comment about the classic writers, obviously their books are still readable because of their ingenious writing. The definitions of the Chris’ house and the Monkey Island are poetic.   

I recommend this book if you want an emotional story that deals with human nature of people that are from various backgrounds.

My rating for ‘Return of The Solder’ would be ★★★☆☆

The Last Testament

Cover of "The Last Testament"

Cover of The Last Testament

This is again a thriller of Sam Bourne. The Last Testament had more similarities to Dan Brown’s than the Righteous Men. Being the great fan of Dan Brown’s works, I obviously liked this book.

The story set on the background of the peace talks between Israel and Palestine. There was one right wing man, Shimon Guttman, who claimed he has information that could change the whole process, shot dead. This followed by search for the information and what it revealed whether this helped on the peace process etc.

The story had the speed that makes you glued to the book except for few chapters. One thing I liked is the fact that the leading characters are not somebody who knows all the things already. They just search and find the information unlike Dan Brown’s.

The important thing I missed in the Righteous Men was the descriptions of the places the way Brown does. In this novel, he corrected it. His descriptions of Jerusalem and the important places in the city is awesome that I could clearly imagine the things.

Also in this novel, the antagonist was kept in the Grey area in which someone can argue he is right in what he was doing.

I could guess what the mystery could be, in the middle way only. But I cannot blame the author for this. That is the only way you could end the story. But this mystery is just like the Holy Grail mystery in the Da Vinci Code. The mystery has nothing to do with the thrill the story offers.

As I said, though the story decelerating at some places, it is taking the top gear towards the second half. The pace is too high that you hardly let the book down in the second half of the story.

Definitely a great read for Dan Brown fans. Overall I could give this book ★★★☆☆

A Thousand Splendid Suns

Cover of "A Thousand Splendid Suns (First...

Cover via Amazon

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the second novel by Khaled Hosseini after the hugely successful kite runner. This also set in Afghanistan. Unlike   Kite runner, this whole story takes place in Afghanistan during the turbulent political changes.

This novel portrays the life of two different women from a complete different background and whose life crossed each other in the Taliban reign.

In Kite runner, Khaled hosseini told us the good old days of Afghan and all the good things about it and some glimpse of Taliban’s Afghan. Here, in thousand splendid suns, it is the vice versa. He had told a little bit of story in Afghan’s good old days, and then there comes Soviet reign, then the warlords, the Taliban and finally the present government and its reforms.

Story of Mariam and Laila and their struggles being women in the time of warlords and the Taliban are exposed very well. When I read Kite Runners, I thought, Hosseini being in the political Asylum in US described only one side – cruel – of soviet army. But in this he proved it is purely based on the narrator’s point of view.

In this novel, he described the positives of the Soviet reign, mainly the women freedom. The difference is superbly told in a single character, the teacher of Laila.

But in some places I did not like the novel as it is going very much like the mega serials of nowadays where the female leads are kept on weeping. A cruel husband and innocent wife are the characters that are too common for Indians, aren’t they?

I liked the way he told the story. Though both the characters are in same place most of the time, half the time the story travelled in the view of Laila and half the time in Mariam’s view, but whole novel set in the third person not the first person view like kite runner.

Also, in some places where he uses Farsi words, he just let it be, never bothered about giving the meaning of those words. In my view, it is ok to use other languages when u find it is more appropriate, but better to give somewhat meaning every time I hate to search in google to find the meaning.

As a story teller, Khaled Hosseini stands out. He could easily makes you emotional in few final chapters. He is simply superb and he makes you believe everything he tells. You never think the story is fictional or dramatic. But of course, as I told already, he could have avoided some repetition of husband torturing wife chapters. I found these things are just repeating in many places where we could easily guess this is going to follow in many places.

If you liked the emotional bonding between Amir and Hassan in Kite runner, you would definitely like the bonding between Laila and Mariam. The previous one is of friendship and this one is of mother-daughter like. I would say it is a good read except for some of the stereotypic chapters. The final chapters are as emotional as the kite runner’s last few chapters. Also the novel can be described as fictional account of Afghanistan’s history in the turbulent three/four decades.

My Rating for this book ★★★★☆

The Righteous Men

I bought this book, The Righteous Men, only because in the paperback cover it was mentioned that the mirror identified him as ‘the biggest challenger to Dan Brown’s Crown’.

It is also a mystery thriller just like the Robert Langdon series of Dan Brown’s. But it’s not the mystery of Christianity, instead it’s of Jews. The hero was not a symbologist who knows a lot about the religion though. He’s a reporter. The author, Sam Bourne, himself a journalist, he could tell the details of the work environment, the difficulties in the work quite naturally.

The main thing, it is a thriller. What about the pace of the novel? Yes, it is too fast and interesting just like the Dan Brown’s that you cannot put down the book.

There is a quite a bit of treasure hunt also. Like this, there were a lot of places where you could find the Dan Brown effect. But one thing about Dan Brown is he never ends the novel as the antagonist in a complete wrong. He always let in a grey area where we could decide on whether the person was at wrong or not.

But here in The Righteous Men, Sam Bourne left the antagonist in dark only. We never have a second thought like what he did was somehow right kind of.

The best part of the novel is the chapters that says the details of each Righteous Man. Each would qualify as a short story on its own.

The chapter where the protagonist, Will Monroe, knows the mystery is more like a philosophical discussion and it was a good to read.

There was a lot of information about one of the oldest religions, Judaism. Handling a subject like this without creating much controversy is itself a big thing. Existence of a Jewish community, Hassidim, in New York in itself a surprise and their belief and everything is just you would have never imagined that something like this is still there in New York.

I could guess the antagonist, three chapters before the author decided to reveal him. So I missed the thrill when the actual villain is revealed. Luckily the interest in the story does not end with the revelation of the antagonist. Another negative, I could say is the final fight between the antagonist and the hero, Will. It was too stereotypic where all the things we could guess.

The Righteous Men, as a complete book, is too good for a read. If you liked Dan Brown’s books, you would love to read this also. And the mirror is right about Sam Bourne. He is a big challenger for Dan Brown of course. But certainly not better than Dan Brown.

My Rating ★★★★☆

Goodreads Page

Anbu's  book recommendations, reviews, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists