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Mith's Bookshelf

Just testing the waters here, and still hoping GR gets it together soon!

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The Krishna Key - Ashwin Sanghi I hadn't read any of Sanghi's books before picking this up, but if his writing skills in the Krishna Key is anything to go by, then I can safely say I dodged a couple of bullets. I won't waste space pointing out the innumerable similarities between the Krishna Key and the Da Vinci Code, as it's been done to death by the other reviewers on Goodreads. Instead, let me put together a list (in no particular order) of stray observations I made while reading this book. It's going to be a LONG one, so please bear with me (Or skip to the end for the TL;DR version) -

1. If anybody is labouring under the delusion that this is a book with a plot or a story, filled with action, intrigue, conflicts, resolutions and happy endings, let me stop you right here. This isn't so much a novel as one giant-ass lesson in history, mythology and theology. EVERYTHING that happens in the book is done for the sole reason to allow Sanghi to include as much of his research as possible into the book.

2. While the amount of research gone into this book is commendable (and I admit there is no way I can read through all the material mentioned in the appendix to verify or refute his theory), at times it feels like Sanghi is just trying a little too hard to connect everything (literally) to India/Krishna/Vedas (I mean, Noah (He of the Ark) actually comes from Naoh (Hindi word for boat)? Really?)

3. Sanghi has made use of the omniscient POV (my least favourite kind) while writing this book. This means that we get to know everything, everyone of the characters is thinking or saying or doing at all times - which can be an overload of information. It also means, we don't get to spend enough quality time with any of the characters to be able to develop an attachment to them, and end up not caring about anything that happens to any of them -

One of the characters nearly dies in an avalanche! (Don't care.)
He is bleeding to death! (Yawn.)
All of a sudden, with nothing leading to it whatsoever, they're in love now! (Watching paint dry is more exciting than these two.)
They are trapped in a cave-in! (Can we get on with the story already?)

4. The writing is awful. Just...no. The descriptions of characters are extremely cringe-worthy and give the impression that Sanghi has only the vaguest ideas of how most Indians look like -

- [He] had been blessed with godlike physical charms and unblemished complexion...
- [She] had the body of a Rajput warrior queen and the analytical mind of a Tamil engineer...
- [His] outward appearance was that of a geek - ill-fitting clothes, uncombed hair ... face was blemished with acne and his personal hygiene left a lot to be desired... (this last one made my blood boil a little because, not only do I consider myself a geek and find this extremely offensive, but, also, it is SO CLEARLY stereotypical and LAZY, that it leaves no room for any doubt that Sanghi doesn't give two hoots for his characters - he only needs them as a mouthpiece to show off his research)
- On his balding head was a straw hat that gave him the appearance of a mafia don...

Half the time, the characters say things that are so unbelievable, that even suspension of disbelief doesn't quite work here. Imagine, if you will, an Indian cop who says things like "Cat got your tongue?... Your femme fatale friend...[Talking about jail] Welcome to Hotel California. You can check in any time but you can never leave!"

5. The editing is careless, to say the least. I can recall two instances (page 301 and 389) where Radhika and Saini are referred to as Priya, respectively.

6. At one point, Saini, an Indian professor, says to Priya, fellow Indian - "For your information, a yojana is about nine American miles...". Excuse me?? Since when did Indians stop using the metric system?? It is things like this that make me loathe to pick up books by Indian authors! From this one statement, it is SO OBVIOUS that Sanghi has written this book keeping (probably non-existent) American readers in mind, while the truth is that almost all of his readers will be Indians (because, c'mon, which American in his right mind will want to read a Da Vinci Code rip-off?). Know your audience Mr. Sanghi. DO NOT ALIENATE THEM.

7. Sanghi has a habit of over-sharing. Throughout the book we are told that the characters are wearing Reebok shoes or Levis jeans or carrying a Samsung Galaxy XCover or using an Apple iPad or driving a Yamaha bike with a 150cc engine or smoking a Cohiba cigar....!! Are you being paid to endorse these products Mr. Sanghi? No? Then quit it, because, and I cannot emphasize this enough, NOBODY CARES. Give us a gist of the scene and settings, and leave the rest to our imagination. Do not spoon-feed us and insult our intelligence!

8. Speaking of insulting the reader's intelligence, Sanghi also has a habit of re-iterating key passages of the book during a big reveal. In italics. I can almost hear his voice in my head going, Look! See! Here's the twist in the story BUT I HAD ALREADY HINTED ABOUT IT BEFORE. See how smart I am?!?!?! And since you're too stupid to figure it out on your own, I'm going to remind you about the hint by typing it again! In italics! Because that's how it's supposed to be done!!!!!!!

9. Finally, let's talk about the plot. Can I say, contrived much?

So we begin with a Mr. Varshney, who starts off the whole thing by giving Saini a VERY IMPORTANT ancient seal. He tells Saini to safeguard it for him as he is afraid his life might be in danger. Question, WHY is his life in danger, Mr. Sanghi? What gave him the idea? What did he figure/find out that led him to believe that what he has in his possession is also wanted by dangerous people who will stop at nothing to obtain it, and that he has to give it to FOUR different people to keep it safe, all of whom HAPPEN to be descendants of Krishna? How did he convince those people to do this favour for him?

Also, Every character we ever meet conveniently has an abundance of knowledge on Indian history and can spout them at will. Even the so-called "mob boss" knows the ins and outs of Krishna's escapades, as well as detailed info on nuclear transmutations(!!!!!)

Don't expect us to just go along with your story, Mr.Sanghi, make it believable!

10. The ending. Oh God, the ending! The norm in reading a book is that the ending is supposed make the rest of the journey worthwhile. That's the whole point of the book. Sanghi spectacularly fails in this. The ending is so abysmally done, you feel like tearing at your hair and throwing the book at the nearest wall, for having wasted your precious time on this drivel. Through the whole book, they gather the seals, escape from death, travel across the country, only to be told, and in turn tell us, that (paraphrasing) "we should aim to be better people in life and only then we can be happy". Not a peep about the seals or the Krishna Key after that. So everybody in the book died for this?! I read through all that crap for this?!

TL;DR - Less thrills and more facepalms. Terrible writing. Shoddy editing. Contrived plot. No story. Severely lame ending. Too much historical information stuffed into one book. Don't bother reading unless you're a Indian mythology/Conspiracy theory buff.

P.S - I am embarrassed to admit that I didn't see the reveal of Mataji coming. But that might be because I really didn't care about the story at that point.