Author: Mehek Bassi
Genre: Drama, romance, crime, thriller
Price: Rs 200 (exclusive of discounts)
Rating: 3 out of 5
Review: 'Chained' unchains young Mehek from the shackles of teenage naivety and sees her transformation from a girl to a woman. This debut novel by the 19-year old Mehek Bassi is her medium of emancipation, her own expression of freedom. It is as much about the author as it is about Shiya, the protagonist of near about the same age.
The novel is no watershed moment in Indian literature. By no means, it is any great piece of work. But it is a specimen of a complete work , touching upon several genres simultaneously, and is a stark indication of the birth of a new writing culture in the country. The fact that a small town teenage girl could publish a full-length novel of a readable, even engaging, standard is something which should be appreciated, if not outright celebrated.
'Chained' is the story of Shiya and how she goes through a gamut of emotions in her fast-twisting life, once she becomes a nationally recognised singer. The author deftly traces her journey from the first day of her college till the phase post her wedding. She experiences the ugly side of fame and even goes through relationship troubles with her family and love. Though, the author hasn't quite mastered the narration and the story-telling is not entirely flawless, nevertheless, her effort to elicit all kinds of emotions within the reader's heart hasn't gone in vain.
While the story basically is about Shiya, the second protagonist Arjun (Shiya's boyfriend) is the one whose painful memories of the past take us into the flashback mode. How he meets Shiya, how he falls for her, how he wins her heart, their first kiss, their first makeout session, the quarrels, the fights, the reunions- every aspect of a boy-girl relation has been given adequate weightage and has been successfully sketched by the author.
The plot is more like a thriller, though not as convoluted. At times, things appear a bit hurried, even unfinished, or a bit out of place. The pacing of the narration is uneven, though not quite noticeable. Before the final few chapters, the story seems to drag a bit. However, Mehek redeems herself towards the climax, and slices the reader's heart with a poignant and painful end.
The language is simple and easy to understand for a layman. The story is interspersed with a few poems which are a delight to read. Clearly, the author has aced the art of penning love poems. She chooses the best one for the end. These lines offer a fitting closure to the tale of Shiya and Arjun:
"Loving you is no more a beautiful memory, but now just a pain,
I cry and weep every time I walk down the memory lane,
Your love always completed me in every sense as a whole,
But now it's just emptiness and sorrow in my heart that drains,
Of all the people in the world, you choose me to be hurt,
Of all the hearts in the world, you choose mine to break....
Why did you leave me I ask myself every morning and dawn?
Why my love was incomplete tell me why you were gone?
A silence surrounds my heart and fills it again with despair,
Oh this pain is just too much, and the damage beyond repair,
Please come back baby, just come back and bring that old smile,
Or just come to see me every once in a while,
So my heart no more bleeds, and no more my soul aches,
So I can be peaceful after my death, in my ashes and burnt flakes.....
Overall, it is a good book, but not a great one. One could have been a bit more generous, given that the author is still not out of her teens. But in the overall context of literature, 'Chained' is an 'okay type' of book.
However, if you stack it against some of the recently released inane self-published novels, then 'Chained' is certainly one of the better books of the year.
[The review for 'Chained' has been written on the special request of author Mehek Bassi who was magnanimous enough to send me a signed copy. Readers can buy the book from Flipkart at a discount using this link.]