WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 2/5
Amandeep Sandhu is a friend of mine (on facebook) and I find him to be very creative. He had, very recently, posted an album consisting photos of the people who had influenced his life while he was in Delhi. It was a very interesting series and I used to look forward to it every day. I hadn’t read any book of his and this photo series gave me an insight into his skills with the pen or say, the keyboard. So, I decided to read his book and chose “Roll of Honour”.
I would not recommend this book to my readers but Amandeep’s strong writing ability is a proof that many more books of his are yet to come.
The book, Roll of Honour, is basically about the life and times during 1984 Punjab, one of the most sensitive times in modern India. The protagonist, Appu, is a class 12 student in the military school at Jassabad. His goal in life is to become the school prefect and after schooling to join the NDA. When he reaches his school after the holidays, he realises that the school administration has scrapped the tradition of school prefect and he has to be content with becoming the class monitor. These are troubled times, with the army present in full force in Punjab detaining innocent young Sikhs and killing them in the name of terrorism. The school’s ex-prefect, Balraj, has become a Khalistani militant and seeks refuge in the school. Most of the plot is about Appu’s life at school – a school where the teachers are ruthless; where the innocents are tortured by bullies, Akhad and Laltain; where communal divisions are strong and the chances of a bright future are dim.
The plot of the book has not much to offer in terms of content or fun. The issues raised in the book are definitely sensitive and gritty but did not appeal much to me. There is too much of a repetition and the author’s attempt at garnering pity towards the characters is uninteresting and has failed. After a while, reading the book becomes torturous and boring. The purpose, which the author has tried to serve with this book, was beyond my understanding and probably it is not the author’s fault. The basic premise, if summarised shortly, would be that two bullies always torture the rest of the class and the protagonist is a mere helpless spectator.
In terms of characters, the descriptions of Appu and his friends were good. Balraj came across as a strong character initially but the charisma soon fades away. The bad guys – Lalten and Akhad – have been portrayed well and do justice to their characters. The rest of the characters – the teachers, the families, etc. – do not have much to offer to the story.
I would not recommend this book to my readers but Amandeep’s strong writing ability is a proof that many more books of his are yet to come and I can only hope that they are interesting and I can give them a positive review.