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Friday, November 9, 2018

Book Review: Hungry Gods by Richa Lakhera

Title: Hungry Gods

Author: Richa Lakhera

Publisher: Rupa Publications

Genre: Crime (Fiction)

Date:  2018

Price: INR 265/212 (kindle unlimited)

Pages: 186

Reading time: 4 hours

Hungry Gods is easily one of the most unique works of fiction I have come across in my life; it stands out for its in-your-face unique blunt approach. This is a fast moving, riveting but dark book – a story of brutal revenge, hard worded and racy, a story of hard words, harder facts and harsh realities of life for the unfortunate. Reviewing this book is not easy – given my proclivity for an insistence on complete language control in a book. Yet, remarkably enough, upon keeping this book aside after finishing it – the aspect of language does not even begin to register on my mind.

The story  is in two distinct storylines  – first, an unnamed mystery Rape n Murder of a woman; and the attendant revenge by the lone survivor, sadly the lady’s son or daughter. This mystery of identity and specifics is kept till the literal last page of the book. This forms the core story; the other aspect involved is one of Corporate Scandals, with a Pharma company being accused / suspected of major hanky-panky, with someone from the press investigating the same. Also involved is the TV industry, where a serial is being sponsored by this company. As the plot moves ahead – people connected with both the above – The company and the Serial, start dying one-by-one

The backdrop, or the setting, of the above two stories is set in a dual system – one being the TV industry, and other a sordid Drug background, a background where drugs, alchohol and crime mix into a heady seething potion of trouble, uncertain loyalties, unclear lines and bad vibes. And this is why the bad words and the blunt sexual descriptions don’t stand out: they gel in with the background. In fact, the blunt violence, sex, drugs, atmosphere, swear words all seem to mix into one logical whole. Full credit to the author for creating such a powerful and strong visual imagery and backdrop, one that is sure to stun you and pull you in.

For the rest, the Characterisation is different; the characters are roughly etched, not fully filled in – and yet leave a strong impression on the reader. When you keep the book aside, you are left with a strong impression of the bad chaps – deeply etched in some cases. That speaks for itself! There is no good, no bad here : this is too realistic, in fact. Only shades of grey everywhere; again – this is also in consonance with the overall theme, setting and story – makes it doubly realistic.

The most riveting part of the story  is the Pharmaceutical & corruption angle. This has been deliberately kept as a secondary theme, which leads to the punch and the surprise! The focus on the Serial, underplaying the murder and the Pharma Company, was unique in my memory at least. At the same time, an opportunity was lost – a fantastic thriller could have been visualized around this theme of the Corporate Corruption… maybe next  time, the author can think of this! The author’s objective in this book is different, a look at the underside of Humans… which she has successfully brought in vivid stark imagery that is certain to jolt and shock you, though the naked powerplay that could have been focused on a bit more than is the case now.

The story is fast paced, in fact frenetic in places – but for the most part, the pace is calibrated and deliberate. The imagery, the word skill that creates vivid images in your mind of the backdrop, setting and overall storyline is fantastic; read it for this alone. In Conclusion – a unique book, one that is a recommended read for its unique approach, skilled wordplay, storyline and overall approach.

RC RATING: 4/5. Recommended only if you routinely read the genre. 

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