This promises to be among the bluntest reviews I have written; I don’t mean to state I wont do justice to it – that I will, most certainly so. But in this particular book, there is no scope, to be anything but perfectly honest. Now that doesn’t mean it is a bad book : it is not a bad book by any means. But, as a good reviewer, I need to place both my opinion as well as an unbiased, factual review of the book basis my experience of reviewing books for that past 6+ years and nearly 180 books so far as I can recall. In this, this is an exceptionally demanding task, for reasons that are stated in the next paragraph

 

THE NEGATIVES

This is a book that purportedly is based on The Tenth Avatar of Lord Vishnu -the yet to come Kalki, at the end of the Kalyug era. Lets start with the negatives – so that we can close with the positives. My biased rating is 1 star, and unbiased rating will be 2.5 stars, perhaps  3-3.5 stars. Why this difference? First, the concept of this historical fiction, which has too many shades that rub me personally the wrong way. Let me state these upfront, so the reader can form a better judgement. The book is based on the Tenth Avatar of Lord Vishnu – it should do justice to the concept. Now I am no expert, but do have my own perceptions, and the presented character did not meet my expectation. You can call it a problem of my views, that is fine.

 

Second, and bigger issue is the usage of – or rather, the subtle usage of undercurrents or should I say assumptions {I frankly don’t know what to call them}. The portrayal of various negative or opposition players, named Tribals, Nagas and so on, seemed stereotyped, and playing to an aged belief or misperception. That I found to be unacceptable – but then, that is me. It is just a naming issue – but to a sensitive person like me, it was just plain unacceptable. The subtlety of what seemed to me to be an interpretation of some aspects of our history was way too outlandish, to say the least. {Mythology, which some people call as mythology – which I, an educated PG in Marketing, Geneticist, ardent reader of scientific research on Genetics and Ecology cant understand why they do so. It is HISTORY! }

This is not what a land that brings in Lord Vishnu would be like, nor will Lord Vishnu – as I see it – come in like this. Other reviewers state don’t mix with mythology; blunt – it isn’t Mythology – period. To me, it is established history, I believe in it with all my heart, and is very close to my heart. Am I offended? No way. I am a daily reader of our scriptures, and understand the freedom they provide. I have no personal issues whatsoever with the book. And the book is presented as the “Avatar of Vishnu” {Check image} – so why shouldn’t I compare with History? I didn’t like it. But that is my choice. Lets move on. And oh, by the way- I am not associated with the RSS or any religious outfit whatsoever. Religion is my personal area, my personal space – and this book is based on my religion.

 

THE POSITIVES

As a book on historical fiction – it is well construed, imagined and constructed. The imaginative usage of current terms, the character construction and backgrounds, the story have all been excellently put together. If you aren’t so particular as I am, read it by all means – I cant be fairer than that. There is nothing offensive at all so far as I read and can recall, that is also true. It is just a question of expectations and perceptions – I advise the author to focus a lot more – in fact, {a lot more}^10 on the central character, Lord Kalki.

 

Don’t forget, you are writing on the Lord Kalki himself, the creator. The character should be strong enough and powerful enough to justify that label. Kalki in this book just doesnt meet the grade, nowhere close. Focus on building Lord Kalki –  for the rest of the book is Pure Gold. Kalki in this book comes across as a mere human being, regret to state – getting easily overcome, beaten etc. That doesn’t gel. If you can rename the character, remove the historical linkages, then all is right – and the book gets to be called a masterpiece in fiction.

 

The characterization in terms of character lines are strong and bold; the characters have staying power in your mind, and connect with you, remaining in your memory for long afterwords. Fair is fair – credit where credit is due. The pace is frenetic, and hard to put down once you start; overall, as a work of fiction, the book really is good – make no mistake. I may have been mildly put off – but that does nothing to change the simple facts above, that the book is fast paced and interesting.

 

I have tried to give a factual and honest feedback; will be writing to the author as well. Kevin has talent – oh yes, he has loads of talent. He needs to understand the background of the history he is writing on – which it seems he doesn’t – I may be wrong. My perception after all cannot be absolute – it is my perception. But one thing is for certain – I will read Kevin’s other works as and when they come out. Will I read this story’s next? No, not unless I am asked to review it. I can only promise a fair and honest review, but I cant bring myself to read the second book of this series. The subject  is way too close to my heart, so let me just leave it at that.