Another nice, honest review of The Fragile Thread of Hope by an esteemed blogger.
Madhulika ma’am and I go back a long way. I met her on Goodreads three years back, when I had sent my first book to her for review. Soon, she posted her critical review on Goodreads. Initially, I must admit—I felt bad, terrible, in fact. But when I re-read the review and the associated comments after a few days, an important realization dawned on me. I realized how inferior my writing was, and I understood what I needed to do to improve myself. After that, I worked hard on my writing skills, read critically acclaimed books as suggested by ma’am, and slowly, I did feel as if I was making my way up the mountain of progress. And after several years of effort, I managed to publish my second book three months back. I got it professionally edited, too—again, it was a strong suggestion by ma’am to go for an editor—and I know it really helped enhance the quality of my book. I know it might still have a lot of flaws, but I hope ma’am reads it soon (I have sent it to her for review again) and hopefully finds some improvements in my writing. Her honest feedback will help me improve further.
Anyway, coming back to the book review. As I follow ma’am on Facebook, I recently got to know that she had published another book—Woman to Woman, a collection of short stories. Although I’m not the biggest fan of short stories, I wanted to read it as the genre—literary fiction—was the one most similar to my taste (she generally writes historical fiction, a genre I don’t prefer to read). So when my eyes fell on this book during a recent visit to Rachna Books, Sikkim’s award-winning bookstore, I couldn’t keep myself from getting a copy.
As I went through the first few pages, I understood one thing very clearly—ma’am definitely practices what she preaches. I have read her articles on writing tips, and she has followed all of them religiously in her book. The editing is flawless, there are no grammatical or punctuation errors, and the prose flows like wine. The writing exudes a rare class. Almost every sentence is crafted with elegance and skill, which makes you want to re-read them, absorb their beauty, and marvel at the author’s creativity, before moving on. Yet, despite the grace, her language is still so simple, a lesson in writing for all aspiring authors. Moreover, the dialogues are exceptional, to the point, and hard-hitting. Not even a single dialogue seems out of place or unnecessary. Without telling too much, Madhulika ma’am uses dialogues to paint shades of a character and move the plot further—a perfect illustration of the show-don’t-tell rule. Her experience shines in every aspect of her writing, and it is a treat for new and avid readers alike.
The descriptions are beautiful and vivid, and she has managed to maintain a perfect balance between excessive and insufficient description. She uses metaphors, she uses similes, she plays with words, but she knows where to draw the line and keep it simple too. Young writers like me tend to struggle in both these aspects, and ma’am once again leads by example.
There is so much variety in the stories as well as the characters—characters from all walks of life, characters facing diverse challenges, characters fighting their way through the maze of their lives, characters navigating complex relationships. I loved every story and felt for all the protagonists and even some side characters. Almost every twist and turn left me surprised, and I enjoyed the subtle message embedded in each story. The lessons are never preached, though—another mistake amateur writers tend to make.
I felt strong emotions in every story—hatred, despair, sympathy, admiration, disgust, helplessness, hope. Another aspect of this book I loved was that despite being a book about women, there is no forced attempt to portray feminism anywhere. It highlights every aspect of women—their strength, their fragility, their courage, and their helplessness—in equal measure. The emotions are raw and admirably real, and thus powerful enough to move the reader.
All in all, I think this book is a must-read for all. I would be surprised if it doesn’t win awards or at least gets nominated for several awards. This book deserves nothing less than 5 stars. A literary masterpiece in every way.
I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest review. Frankly speaking, fantasy is not a genre I prefer to read, so I didn’t feel that this book was for me, but the intriguing blurb urged me to try this book out.
A few pages into the book, and I was a bit disappointed. The writing style was too casual for my liking, the dialogues were immaturely written, the situations seemed unbelievable, and the protagonist was kind of irritating. Yet, I carried on, hoping it would get better. Before long, I had reached half of the novel. The things I had pointed out remained the same—they neither improved nor degraded—but still there was something special in the storytelling skills of the author that made me carry on. You want to know what happens next, and I think that is the best part about the book.
Unfortunately, the writing style of the author needs a lot of polish. There are two-page monologues that never seem to end, and the way he writes dialogues is strange. He writes a dialogue and the next reply is summarized, and the process continues. If there has to be a scene with dialogues, it should be consistent and all characters should be allowed to speak. Every alternate dialogue should not be summarized. It kills the flow. A lot of cuss words are used in dialogues, which I personally don’t prefer. Also, instead of using the colloquial ‘Ha!Ha!Ha!’, it is always more professional to use ‘he/she laughed’. Most of the dialogues, especially the romantic ones, are also too cheesy and unrealistic. I also didn’t like the language used in the book. It is too casual, like a Facebook status update. There is no effort in the writing. Grammatical and punctuation errors also crop up every now and then, adding to the frustration. Also, there is a lot of telling instead of showing, and in a single page sometimes so many events happen that there is no breathing space. The pace is too fast to catch up sometimes.
I also could not relate to the protagonist. I know there should be gray shades in characters to make them realistic, but there should be some endearing qualities as well. Rak was proud, cocky, and arrogant almost all the time, and I never really liked him. Yes, towards the end, his character improved a bit, but somehow, I still could not like him.
Moreover, despite being a dream sequence, some things were very difficult to believe—Rak never remembering his parents or any part of his real life even once when he is in the ethereal world, a normal B.A. student suddenly developing the skills of a soldier, the inexplicable bravery of deciding to do to war single-handedly against a formidable kingdom without having any plans, the abrupt romantic development before the climax (which I don’t want to reveal as it would be a spoiler). The sudden doses of inspiration that appear every now and then also seemed forced and unnatural.
However, the climax, especially the war sequence, is well-written and redeemed the book somewhat. There are good twists and turns, and I enjoyed that part of the book the most.
The author definitely has talent and possesses good storytelling skills, but at present, he needs a lot of work in almost every aspect of his writing. Also, after developing his skills, he needs to consult a good editor who will guide him and help him create a good piece of fiction. He has good imagination, and I really appreciate how he created a wonderful fictional world (the dream world) using his creativity. If he polishes his writing skills, I’m sure his next book will be a good read.
2.75 stars from side for this one.
Group Giveaway “Women’s Fiction – Literary Fiction” Lovely women’s fiction/ literary fiction books/previews waiting to be grabbed, including the preview of my novel
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