WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
Every once in a while, there comes a time in the life of a reviewer when they get awry of big, lengthy books.
As someone who reads almost 100 books every year, it is not one of the things that I am very proud of but yes, it’s true – big books scare me and I am always sceptical if I pick them up at all.
My experience with Elephants in the Room was different though. What began as an unenthusiastic journey soon turned into a pleasant one once the story and writing grew on me.
Read on to know why I felt this way and why this book could be the next book that you are looking for?
What to expect?
Elephants in the Room is massive. It is just short of 600 pages and that’s a lot to overwhelm any reader but let that not deter you from giving this book a chance.
It tells a refreshing tale which is different from the books that I usually read. There isn’t any cheesy college romance nor is there any of the young adult stuff, there isn’t any fantasy and there isn’t even a female protagonist and that’s probably why, this book presents a uniquely different story.
Elephants in the Room is about a naïve bunch of ragtag men and their planned bank robbery gone wrong.
The book opens by introducing us to Nari, a pickpocket who operates in Chennai. He and his bunch of friends plan a robbery to get rid of their money troubles. For some, it is the promise of a better future, whereas for others it is the prospect of money solving their career, family and health troubles, that makes them come together for this crime.
So, the plan is set and the date and venue are decided upon. But when the actual robbery happens, Nari and his gang are up for a huge surprise. At the same time another gang turns up for a robbery and what ensues is not just chaotic but also comical.
How good are the characters?
The characters of the book are a decent bunch. Certain characters grow on you while a few of them are just mediocre.
Main characters like Nari and Vel have good backstories which make the book all the more interesting. I like how the author has picked out people randomly from a vast array of choices and decided to tell their story.
The best part is that there is not a single main character in this story – each character is important in his own way and each has a story (however small) to tell.
In addition to the characters’ past and their present, the backstories also tell a lot about their socio-cultural background. Whether it is Vel’s makeshift job as a funeral singer, or Nari’s frequent visits to the police station – each story that the author has decided to tell, is done beautifully.
The conversations which happen between the various characters including the hour-long discussions is something out of real life.
The characters converse just as people in the real world would do. There isn’t an iota of dressing up or beautifying this reality and this is something which I enjoyed very much.
The author’s writing style
When it comes to the writing style, I have mixed feelings. There are many good things to say about the writing but there is also some scope for betterment.
First and foremost, what strikes you most about the writing is the author’s ability to convert words to visuals. The descriptions of events, scenarios and most importantly, places, are almost like a vivid painting.
I also enjoyed the way in which the group dynamics is explained and imagined. Reading the book is like witnessing Murphy’s law in action – anything that can go wrong will go wrong.
The individual traits, insecurities and fears of the many characters play a huge role in determining the direction of the story.
Another thing that I loved about the book is the poetic rendition of the situations in the form of Gaana songs.
Vel is a funeral singer and often finds himself in intense situations. He finds his mind singing these songs on loop. These songs lend a very local flavour to the writing and brilliantly summarizes the situations that the characters find themselves getting into.
Another noteworthy fact is that the chapters are named as dates and time – “Wednesday, 2:01 pm” is the title of one such chapter. These chapters give us a minute by minute picture of what ensues in the life of the characters once they are inside the bank.
Almost 90% of the book – roughly about 500 pages – only deals with the events that happen in a single day. This kind of detailing is pretty impressive and mind-boggling.
The only thing that could have been better was the pace of the story. Towards the middle, it seemed to slack a little as the situation became monotonous. I think cutting down a few undesired pages might have helped a little here.
Was the climax good?
The climax was one aspect that I truly wanted to be better. There were too many loose ends and the fate of so many important characters was left open-ended.
Many questions were left unanswered and this simply did not work for me. I wanted the climax to have a plot-defining twist and sadly that wasn’t the case.
Despite everything, it wasn’t that bad. It is safe to say that the climax was somewhere between great and not so good.
Finally, the entire book and the entire review boils down to this one parameter – is the book entertaining enough? Well yes, it is.
The book is as entertaining as they come. Barring a few issues which I have already stated in the earlier paragraphs, the book tells us a one-of-a-kind story and will be a good choice for a reader looking for diverse reads.
Pick it up if
Pick up the book if you are looking for a refreshing read. Also, give it a try for its insanely comical plot and the subtle and understated humour.
Skip it if
Skip the book only if you cannot stand lengthy books. I say this because there isn’t any other reason I can tell you for not picking this book up.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Elephants in the Room using the link below.