There are some books that you'll go to any lengths to lay your hands upon, and then there are those other books which land into your hands on their own, without your ever having wanted to read them. Of the second category, you aren't really sure whether it'll enthrall you, amuse you or just leave you cold and unmoved. And so you don't bother. But life has its own way of playing with you, and that it most religiously does.
Tantra by Adi, strangely as it has been titled, is one of those books that belonged to the second category for me. I had no idea even of its recent highly publicized launch. But it came by in the mail, thanks to BlogAdda as always, and I read it out of obligation. Only to be highly pleased that I did. Because, believe it or not, the book is quite the surprise package!
The book has been written by one 'Adi', apparently 'a graduate from Stanford and Harvard Universities' and author of a 'poetry book and a minor textbook', one who wishes he hadn't published the said poetry book at all. Interesting, but shrouded under an unnecessary veil of mystery, with no specifics, no details. Reading the short summary at the back, in addition to this supposed mystery looming around the writer and the offbeat (read: computer-generated graphics) cover illustration, sort of made me groan at the prospect of having to read a book that didn't seem at all my type. I imagined it to be yet another immature attempt by a fellow Indian at a fantasy/fiction novel to have his 15 seconds of fame. In hindsight, I'm glad I underestimated this book. It made the reading all the more enthralling and full of surprises.
So coming to the story - Tantra by Adi (is that really how one is supposed to refer to it?) follows the journey of Anu, a young, beautiful and fiery girl who fights vampires in the streets of New York by night, while bottling up her emotions and escaping life's realities and difficulties by day. In a cruel twist of fate, she is terribly wronged by a vampire who she soon finds out has moved to New Delhi, and thus that's where she finds herself heading in his pursuit. Once in India, she cannot help but fall into a warp of all the emotions, rituals, love and family ties that she has been guarding herself against all her life, and things get tangled up. Meanwhile she's caught in a nasty war involving power-thirsty Tantric-energy-wielding Baba Senaka, the city's cult of vampires and her own group of guardians, with the entire city and its people at stake. But she finds within herself the determination to take the Baba down, and works towards learning how to do that, albeit in the potent Indian spiritual way. In the process many of her presumptions and beliefs are broken, new ones are made, many a lesson is learned and she emerges as the true modern heroine, if you will.
The plot moves at a slow pace initially, and there are too many loose ends that make it seem like the plot is going to get nowhere with this. One may even feel like abandoning the book a couple of times, but hang on. The fun hasn't yet begun. It gets much faster and action-packed as the pages advance. The build-up may be vague, but as the loose ends get tied, the picture emerges and it is worth all that effort. The book provides, for dummies, a whole lot of knowledge about spirituality, energies and how we as people connect with the world and with other people by threads. I took time reading through the pages, comprehending any new information and absorbing it inside me so as to develop a feel for the story. Worked pretty well, I must say.
The way Delhi has been portrayed in the book is quite realistic, and Anu's character, as all of the others, has been painstakingly carved and described well in words. The characters literally speak out for themselves. Alas, if only more writers went for the no-character-descriptions, let-the-character's-behavior-and-words-speak-for-herself mantra of writing books. It is so much more mature and takes reading to an entirely different level. Tantra by Adi scores in that regard for me.
[Free advice to any aspiring/existing authors reading this: Try this mantra. Let your characters' conduct speak more for them than your words. You'll see the difference. It might cut down your everyday fan-mail inflow by about half, but it'll definitely make every second spent reading your books totally worth it.]
I'll give this book a 3 and a half stars, and would recommend it to those who like action-packed thrillers or a female superhero saving the day in a part-fantasy, part-reality world.
P.S. I went on a stalking spree of my own and unearthed more on the author, including how he looks, what else he does, and the books's launch and official video trailer as well. Check out here.
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