Not my cup of tea this at all. Yeah, I love India and have read a ton of books about it. But this just didn’t do it for me. I found it very putdownable.
So, now, those of you who actually bother to scroll down and look at my rating chart will wonder why it scored as high as it does and earns itself a ‘good’ rating. Well, that’s cos my rating system is designed to prevent me from completely slating something someone’s worked very hard to put together.
You’ll notice that I gave my criterion of ‘characterisation’ a whopping 80% despite ‘readability’ of only 58%. Well Sinha has created a very memorable character in Animal, the protagonist and narrator. But he’s not someone I want to hang around with. He’s a teen who’s been deformed since he was a child when he, along with thousands of others in his so-called fictitious Indian town were poisoned by a so-called
fictitious gas leak at a so-called fictitious chemical company.
Clearly Sinha is out to portray the horrendous crime against humanity of Union Carbide (now owned by Dow Chemical) without getting his rear end sued off and he does a pretty good job of that. But in order to do it, he hashes together a storyline that gets in the way of what would otherwise have been a very tragic and moving novel… kind of like what Cameron did with Titanic. It’s almost burlesque in its portrayal of suffering, particularly that of Animal himself, and that is at odds with the horrendous reality it is evoking.
So, take out the ridiculous story of the American and the clinic and fire-walking and talking foetuses in mason jars and focus instead on how several different generations or neighbours suffered and continue to suffer after that one night of horror and you’d probably have a classic.
Instead, what you’ve got is muddled and that muddlement had me wishing the book was 100 pages shorter. Seeing Animal’s scowling face staring at me accusingly from the coffee table after I hadn’t picked it up for a week didn’t help. As you can see from my progress chart below, there was a while when I didn’t make much!
Not particularly recommended.
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style
Read more about how I come up with my ratings