Before I got the mail from Bloagadda about tantra being the book up for review, all I knew about it was that there was quite the buzz being created around it. For a newbie writer and his first book, a little promotion is crucial but even then, an animated version of the story is going a little over the top, don’t you think?
I know judging a book by its cover (literally) isn’t right, but sometimes one just gets the feeling of how a certain book will turn out to be and that’s what I feel happened here. My expectations from this book were really low, which as it turns out was a Good thing.
Anyways, as I always do before writing my review, here’s the plot of the said novel, as published on the back cover.
Anu is a leather wearing, no-nonsense professional guardian with a reputation for killing the most dangerous vampires in New York City. But when her enemies murder the one person she truly cared about, all she wants is vengeance. The only clue points to New Delhi, so Anu puts in for a job transfer.
In India, she finds more than she expected. For one thing, her fellow operatives have made a truce with the vampires. For another, it’s way too hot to wear leather.
At first, it seems Anu’s biggest challenge will be evading the nice boys her aunt wants her to marry. But when children start disappearing, she discovers forces older and darker than anything she’s faced before. All of Delhi is in danger, especially the sexy stranger who sets Anu’s pulse racing.
To prepare for the coming battle, Anu must overcome her personal demons and put aside years of training. This time, her most powerful weapon will come from her mind, not her weapons belt.
Now, I don’t have anything against vampires and supernatural elements, but when you decide to combine all the things that have helped sell a book in the past, then we do have a problem my friend!
A dab of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer, a hint of Fifty Shades by E L James and also the attempt to bring out a conspiracy theory in the underbelly of Delhi, with the background of black magic, gives you a basic idea of what this book is all about.
Let’s start with our protagonist, Anu Agarwal, a US based Indian Vampire hunter, who is supposedly one of the better ones in her profession and has hunted the most ferocious and dangerous vampires. The first impression here, unlike the other earlier mentioned series, is of an independent, self sufficient, strong and formidable individual. I agree that Anu is physically strong but emotionally, it’s the same saga all over again. Her Character is heartbroken, vengeance seeking and erratic in nature. The decisions and choices, made by her, are juvenile, to say the least, the very least.
The characters, as enjoyable and likeable as they are, leave a lot to the imagination of the reader. Their backgrounds and life stories could have been developed a little more. Also at times the conversations and banter turn monotonous, leaving you wondering why it’s such a slow read.
The author has tried to compose something which will capture our generation’s attention and most probably has achieved in attaining it, considering the reviews that are being written about it. But for me, even though written pretty decently, this book just didn’t do it. I mean the fact that on being given the choice between reading Tantra and studying, I chose my textbooks, says something now, doesn’t it?
The writing style is plain and simple but conversations between the characters shows that the author has tried to imbibe his knowledge of American English and culture even though the story takes place in Delhi. The one thing I really liked about it though was the sense of humour, which kept the book alive for me but also left me wishing for more.
Now even though Anu is a vampire hunter, the vampires are only in the backdrop creating a setting for our protagonist, rather than developing into a full-fledged story.
There are a number of confrontation scenes between Anu and the vampires and the acolytes of Baba Senaka, the antagonist of this book, bringing spice to the narrative.
The author has also managed to put in a little romance here and there for the starry eyed, turning it into a replica, at times, of the books mentioned earlier.
The knowledge about Tantra, the black magic of Indian culture, could have been explained in a better manner. The tales of the past of the various astras seem like something taken from the books of Ashwin Sanghi.
Also, I feel that the ending is rather abrupt and that it could have been better.
The book has left a lot many questions unanswered but that can be accepted since a sequel is hinted at the end.
The plotline of this book suggested a sensible narrative, I mean as sensible as a book based on vampires and the mystical can be, but after reading it, I feel the author got distracted and concocted a mixture of everything and anything which would help the sales of the book.