Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Book Review "The Cloudburst" by Rajesh Naiksatam

A purplish cover highlighted by lightening, floods and stick men like children raising their arms and a colophon describing floods, peril, Mumbai and survival; there was a huge gap between the impact left by the two as the latter clearly overshadowed the former.

Book Blurb
After fifteen-year-old Ganpu Aapla and his parents lose everything they own, including their beautiful ancestral home in Katalveldurwadi Dabhol, India, to a forced takeover by America’s Enrone Corporation, they move to Mumbai in search of justice. Ganpu’s family takes up residence in a temporary shack that doubles as a chai shop near the Bandra Kurla Complex in a Mumbai suburb.
One day during monsoon season, when Ganpu’s parents are out working, a harmless drizzle suddenly turns into a torrential downpour, which quickly floods the streets.
Julie, Rick, James, and Saira, four international students whose parents all live in India, are supposed to be taking a boat trip to the Elephant Caves, but the unexpected cloudburst dampens their plans. After the tour group heads back to land, their guide leaves them with a stranger—a local teacher named Anu—at a bus stop while he looks for help.
Local teens Siva, Javed, and Xinmin, enthralled by the Mumbai rains, decide to venture out into the city instead of going straight home after school and find themselves also stranded at the bus stop.
This ragtag group of mixed classes, races, and genders is forced to seek shelter with one another in Ganpu’s family’s shop. While they wait, the intensity of the rain increases, threatening their survival. With no way of contacting their frantic parents, the group reluctantly waits together to be rescued.
When it appears an outside rescue might be impossible, Ganpu wholly commits to saving the lives of his guests despite their distrust of him, a lowly roadside hawker. In order for his plan to work, though, he must destroy his family’s only home and livelihood, while each one of the stranded must overcome personal demons and prejudices.
Terrified and left with no other way out, Anu must conquer her own fears and motivate the kids to work together, or else the whole crew will face certain death.
“The Cloudburst” revolves around 9 individuals, consisting mostly of teens of various origins and ethnicity, stuck in sudden torrential floods caused by heavy rains in Mumbai. Their initial mutual dislike, past, their mutual differences form the plot of the story as they battle for survival which changes their outlook towards life and each other.

The book is written in third person narrative. The author superbly captures Mumbai floods with his words. The books starts off slow initially, with all characters being introduced, but gradually picks up the pace. There is a lot of switching between the main and the subplots, however still the flow is maintained. The inclusion of illustrative pictures in chapters adds an appeal to the story line as the author successfully works on the readers mind.

Ganpu, the main protagonist of the novel is depicted superbly. His childish innocence, quick thinking, tolerant and patient nature and his moving forward with life forward is captured flawlessly. Anu as the adult among the group plays her role well and leaves a lasting impression. Be it Xinmin’s zen like attitude, Javed’s spoilt brat nature or Siva’s stress eating the author captures them well. Julie, Rick and James could had been explored more. The other characters, especially the parents play their supportive role well and their emotions, helplessness and struggles are captured elaborately.

Personally, I felt the ending to be rushed and a little chaotic. A proper editing towards the start and end would had made it a lot better.

For Rajesh Naiksatam’s maiden initiative, my overall rating would be 3.5/5.

Overall Verdict:- Light, soulful and could be better

Book can be found at - Amazon & Flipkart
Review from other readers can be found at GoodReads

We would like to thank VInfluencerss for arranging the review copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


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