The Long Earth

The Long EarthThe Long Earth is a science fiction novel co written by Terry Pratchett, the creator of Discworld, and Stephen Baxter, one of Britain’s top science fiction novelists. The concept of parallel Earths is an old one but Pratchett and Baxter bring new life to it by creating infinite parallel earths completely devoid of human life, containing all types of flora and fauna, known and unknown, and only “the thickness of a thought away”.

 The story begins in the year 2015 when an inventor releases on the internet the blueprint of a ‘Stepper’.  It is a simple device which consists of a box with a switch on top powered by electricity generated by a potato. Adults consider this a gimmick but children, having no such qualms, follow the instructions and are the first to ‘step’ into the new worlds. Since the Stepper box is extremely easy to make, it leads to a mass exodus and social, economic and political upheaval as humanity is suddenly faced with a vast, infinite array of natural resources and worlds completely free of deceptions and crime.

 In the midst of these new developments the protagonist, Joshua Valiente, one of the first children to step discovers that he can step without the aid of a stepper box and also he does not suffer the nausea which other people using a Stepper feel after stepping. He is recruited by a dead Tibetan cycle repair-man reincarnated as super intelligent robot called Lobsang who, knowing Joshua’s talent, decides to take him along on a mission to explore the new worlds and to step further than had ever been stepped before.

The book is a combination of science fiction, fantasy and also a little of Pratchett’s style of wry humour brought out mostly in Lobsang.  It balances perfectly two storylines – one with Joshua and Lobsang and one with the changing moods of the people on ‘original’ Earth or as it is referred to in the series: Datum Earth.  Although some parts of the story were very predictable, the ideas used were novel and interesting. The Long Earth is definitely one of the best science fiction novels of the year and I hope the rest of the books in this series will be just as good.

A. Reyna Shruti

I HEPP ‘N’

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How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co Founded A Million Dollar Company

Million Dollar CompanyEntrepreneur, Film maker, Author and Dreamer. There are many ways to describe this young achiever Varun Agarwal, born on 6 December 1986, and an alumnus of Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, Bangalore. He co-founded Alma Mater and two other companies – Reticular and Last Minute Films. How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co Founded A Million Dollar Company is his debut book and within no time became a national bestseller.

In the quirky journey of this boy-next door to entrepreneur, Varun shares with us how he started Alma Mater, the problems he faced and the things he learnt.  Varun wanted to study filming. But his parents forced him to study engineering. He even wanted to be an entrepreneur. He wanted to start a company that made customized hoodies and tees for schools and colleges. His parents felt he was out of track. His mother enlists the help of Anu ‘aunty’ to get her son back thus adding to the misery of Varun.

 According to Varun, parents these days are against their children taking risks. He feels that most of the children fail to live their lives and fulfill their dreams instead they live the life of others.  Varun detested this practice. He wanted to live his life. He was forced to pursue an MBA course but he listened to his heart and went ahead with fulfilling his dream.  However, it wasn’t an easy way out especially with someone like Anu aunty breathing down his back and thwarting his plans. According to Varun, Anu Aunty is “one of those women who always poked her nose into everyone else’s problems and sniffed for one when there was none”.

This is one book we can connect with very easily. In his very simple language, Varun puts forth his basic idea: Do what your heart wants you to do, not what others’ minds think. His boyish style of narrating his ordeals and overcoming them are charming, promising to keep you glued to this book right through his story.

Anvesha Saliyan

I CAMS J

The Guide

The GuideRailway Raju (nicknamed) is a disarmingly corrupt guide who falls in love with a beautiful dancer, Rosie, the neglected wife of archaeologist Marco. Marco doesn’t approve of Rosie’s passion for dancing. Rosie, encouraged by Raju, decides to follow her dreams and start a dancing career. They start living together and Raju’s mother, as she does not approve of their relationship, leaves them. Raju becomes Rosie’s stage manager and soon with the help of Raju’s marketing tactics, Rosie becomes a successful dancer. Raju, however, develops an inflated sense of self-importance and tries to control her. Raju gets involved in a case of forgery and gets a two year sentence. After completing the sentence, Raju passes through a village where he is mistaken for a sadhu (a spiritual guide). Reluctantly, as he does not want to return in disgrace to Malgudi, he stays in an abandoned temple. There is a famine in the village and Raju is expected to keep a fast in order to make it rain. With media publicizing his fast, a huge crowd gathers (much to Raju’s resentment) to watch him fast. After fasting for several days, he goes to the riverside one morning as part of his daily ritual, where his legs sag down as he feels that the rain is falling in the hills. The ending of the novel leaves unanswered the question of whether he did, or whether the drought has really ended. The last line of the novel is ‘Raju said “Velan, it’s raining up the hills, I can feel it under my feet.” And with this he sagged down’. The last line implies that by now Raju after undergoing so many ups and downs in his life has become a sage and as the drought ends Raju’s life also ends.

Narayan has beautifully written the last line which means Raju did not die but sagged down; meaning Raju within himself had become a sage.

This is one of the best stories written by R. K. Narayan. And I would suggest you to read and enjoy the style of R. K. Narayan, one of the well known writers of Indian writing in English.

Gabriela Joseph 

I PCMB C

Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green GablesIn the classic, Anne of Green Gables, the first in its series, the author, L.M.  Montgomery has skilfully portrayed the life of a poor little orphan girl, Anne Shirley. She is later adopted by Matthew Cuthbert and his sister Marilla. This book has the power to move the reader and one is taken on a journey through Avonlea, the picturesque place in which Anne begins her new life. We are also shown the feelings and mannerisms of the people living there.

Anne Shirley is a very lovable character. The way she makes the best of the things around her, imagines herself away from the world in which she lives, gets into and out of the most impossible scrapes and makes all those around her love her for who she is, is what this book is about. Anne is also seen to find people she automatically takes to and she refers to them as ‘kindred spirits’. Anne is not a beauty in the classic sense but her imagination, impulsiveness and frankness endears her to one and all even her difficult neighbour Mrs. Rachel Lynde. She also loves arranging pretty things and romance of any sort appeals to her. She has a close friend whom she calls her ‘bosom friend’ by the name Diana Barry, who lives close to her home. Her home is called Green Gables and hence the title of the story.

Even though this book is set in olden times, we can relate to it and many times we find people in this book who remind us of people we know. This book is bound to bring a smile to your lips and really is a must read.

SARAH CABRAL

I PCMB ‘C’

 

Merchant of Venice

Merchant of VeniceMerchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare is one of my favourite plays. I got interested in the play, since an excerpt was prescribed in ninth standard curriculum. Later on my own interest I read the rest of the play and enjoyed the writings of Shakespeare.

I found its several interwoven plots to be fascinating and very well interknitted. Though a comedy, the play includes tragic elements that wrought the dramatic tension. “Merchant of Venice” is an intriguing drama of love, greed and revenge. The author through his play has clearly brought out the idea of human qualities that should be the core system of the society.

The hero of the story is not Antonio, the Merchant; rather it was Shylock who was a rich Jew. The unsympathetic portrayal of the Jewish money lender is a troubling element in Shakespeare’s play and often read as reflection of attitudes in England at the end of 16th century.

The Shakespearean play reveals the extent of anti-Jewish sentiment at the time. The play contrasts the characters of the maddened and vengeful Shylock, a Venetian money lender, with grace. In scene after scene, a large cast of ambitious and scheming characters demonstrates that honesty is a quality often strained where matters of love and money are concerned.

 The primary plot revolves around two pairs of lovers, Portia and Bassanio, and Jessica and Lorenzo. But it is the relationship between Antonio, the Merchant of Venice, and the money lender shylock that unites the play and provides the central conflict. Briefly, Antonio has borrowed the money from shylock in order to help Bassanio, who loved Portia; the terms of the bond are such that if he can’t repay the loan within 3 months, he must give shylock a pound of his flesh.Antonio, who was faithful friend of Bassanio, sacrificed everything and was, ready for the sacrifice of his own life.

My fovourite character in the play was Portia, a rich heiress because  she was the one who saved bird(Antonio) from the hunter (Shylock).she asked Shylock that he could cut off the flesh but no blood should be shed from the body of Antonio. And I too loved Antonio’s characterization that he helped his friend lead a life happily with Portia.

I was very happy when Portia shrewdly defeats Shylock’s evil purpose. But I was fret, when shylock technically demanded for a pound of flesh of Antonio.  However shylock contributed a lot for the success of this play. Thus the pressure and the suspense of the play’s central plot, together with its romantic interludes and happy ending, have made, The Merchant of Venice a favourite of audience and one of the most studied and performed of Shakespeare’s plays.

K Kavya Sri

I PCMB F

 

Dear John

Dear JohnThe story is about a young soldier and a student who fall in love and then get separated during the man’s military service. John Tyree, the main character, is the son of a man with Aperger’s syndrome. The story is partially set in Wilmington, where John’s father was a single parent who had difficulty having meaningful conversation with his son and has an obsession with coin collecting. Feeling a lack of direction in his life, John enlisted in U.S Armed forces.

While on leave from a tour in Germany, John meets Savannah Lynn a college student and falls in love with her, who is staying at a summer home in Wilmington while she completes volunteers for a project for Habitat for Humanity. Savannah, interested in meeting John’s father, takes a liking to him. To help John better connect with his father, Savannah gives John a book on autism. John meets Savannah’s family, where it’s revealed that John and Savannah had quite different childhoods. Then the United States succumbs to the September 11 attacks and John, who realizes he wants to settle down with Savannah, must decide between returning to North Carolina to be with Savannah or else re-enlisting in the army.  He chooses to his service to his nation rather than being with Savannah. Nevertheless he assures Savannah with a promise, that is, he would always look at the full moon and recollect and cherish their moments together.

 Meanwhile Savannah falls in love with someone else. John was heartbroken but as a result, begins to get closer to his dad, whom he often considered unimportant .His life shatters into a million pieces when his father dies. When he returns to Wilmington for his father’s funeral, he realizes Savannah is married; Savannah apologizes to John and reveals that her husband was Tim, who used to be Savannah’s best friend and now an orphan and who inspired her to of autistic children since he took care of his autistic brother Alan. John is shocked to hear Tim has skin cancer and might die as they were financially unstable to afford new treatments. Though John was very much in love with Savannah and vise-versa, it just didn’t feel right to look after Savannah even Tim permitted him at his death-bed. Instead John leaves Savannah and sells his only memory of his father i.e. his coin collection and donates the money to the charity in Savannah’s town, which was used for Tim’s treatment. Savannah never comes to know that John donated that money. Yet, every full moon night John stares at the moon and dissolves himself in the beautiful memories, he concludes by saying that at that brief moment, he feels that he and Savannah will be together forever!!!

 In my opinion the story strongly tells us the need to sacrifice in our life, though it leaves us with the feeling of void inside ………some part of our heart knows it’s the right thing to do. Nicholas Sparks has put across this message beautifully in this novel. It’s one of those novels which leave tears in your eyes at the yet you don’t feel sorrow but some kind of inner purgation that leads to satisfaction. This novel also reminds us the power of love. Love can make us do strange things; the book highlights this fact by portraying John- the young arrogant man who eventually grows into a man of values and a symbol of sacrifice. This story is touching and inspiring.

Spurthi Rajesh

I PCMB F

The Notebook

The Notebook CoverNicholas Charles Sparks (born December 31, 1965) is an internationally bestselling American novelist and screenwriter. He has 17 published novels. Seven have been adapted to films, including: Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Notebook, Nights in Rodanthe, Dear John, The Last Song and most recently, The Lucky One.

The Notebook is a contemporary love story set in the pre- and post- World War II era. Noah and Allie spend a wonderful time being together. Although Noah attempts to keep in contact with Allie after they are forced to separate, due to Allie’s family and the socio-economic realities of the time, his letters go unanswered. Noah travels north to find gainful employment and to escape the ghost of Allie and eventually, he goes off to war. After serving his country, he returns home to restore an old farmhouse. A newspaper article about his endeavour catches Allie’s eye and 14 years after she last saw Noah, Allie returns to him. The only problem is she is engaged to another man. After spending two wonderful reunion days together, Allie must decide between the two men that she loves.

This story is framed by a contemporary man who is reading to a woman who suffers from Alzheimer’s. The woman is understood to be Allie….but which of her two loves is the man reading to her?

The Notebook opens with an unnamed author asking “Who Am I?” Readers realize that this narrator is also an older person. The narrator provides two choices for the reader, claiming that this narrative is either a love story or a tragedy, depending on whether you are a romantic or a cynic, and yet, the narrator considers it a little bit of both. He walks into a room which seems to suggest a nursing home or some extended care facility settles in his usual chair and looks at a woman who does not know who he is. The narrator mentions both God and the power of prayer and then he starts to read from a notebook, in hopes that the miracle will prevail again.

The story comes back to the nursing home where the man was done reading to the woman, who was no longer crying. The narrator admits and reveals that he has been married for 49years.The woman, Allie, says that she’s sure Allie would’ve come back to Noah, and suddenly, she weeps fervently, telling the man that she has never forgotten him and loves him irrevocably, Yes, now this man is known to be Noah.

They got married years back and had a few years that they wouldn’t change for anything in the world! But, later, Allie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. She did not recognize her kids, the love of her life-Noah, not even herself! But, instead of an ideal reunion, readers experience the image of two people who need consoling-“A woman shaking in fear from the demons in her own mind, and the old man, who loves her more deeply than life itself, crying softly in the corner.”

The ambiguous nature of the ending of The Notebook is not nearly so ambiguous if readers take Sparks’ sequel The Wedding into consideration. Noah, a character in this novel, is alive and well and believes that Allie has been reincarnated as a swan.

 I highly recommend this book to be read by those who believe is true love and the power of miracle, and especially by those who doubt it.

Akshada Krishnan

I PPES O