Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Regional Book Reviews: Mystic Mountain, 307.47


               Malayalam Pulp Fiction is going through a golden phase now. More and more youngsters are bringing out their works and mainstream publishers are picking them up without any inhibitions (there used to be a phase when A-List Malayalam publishers kept a 'safe' distance from 'popular/pulp' writers and wanted 'nothing' to do with their 'works') .They are not only vocal about their works in the online platforms but also aggressively cross promote each other's works. It won't be an overstatement to say that Malayalam popular fiction is witnessing what desi writing in English experienced in the 'Chetan Bhagat' phase (ofcourse, Chetan Bhagat is still hanging around, but the many pale imitations have slowly faded out,by now!).This week, we are reviewing two books which are making waves in the social media- Mystic Mountain by Sree Parvathy and 307.47 by Ashish Ben Ajay. In more ways than one, both these works have a couple of things in common.
               Mystic Mountain is a novel which tries to explore Devil worship, Lesbian Love and adventure travel. Thara and Agnes are a lesbian couple who are madly in love with each other and desperately want to start a life together.To tide over her personal crisis, Agnes decides to go for an adventure trip to Mount Aleena with her friends but there she chances upon a mysterious church (church of insanity) and decides to go after the secret behind this abandoned Church. But little did she know that the place had been taken over by dark forces. 
            On a concept level, this theme/one-line might sound exciting.But the plain narrative and below par treatment makes this one a not-so-pleasant reading experience.
             Plagued by poor character development, a back story heavily borrowed from a Malayalam Comedy Film (the track from 'Romans'), illogical plot twists and loopholes in the narrative (the entry of Devasi Achan, the 'conveniently placed' mobile phone in the climax , the 'keys' appearing from nowhere, to name a few),'Mystic Mountain' ends up as a royal mess. The scenes depicting the Devil worship are so unimaginatively written that they end up being cringe worthy and outright boring.

On the whole, I'm giving it a 2 out of 5.

           Asish Ben Ajay's 307.47 is a work which tries to blend different genres. It has elements of horror, travelogue and mystery.The plot goes something like this-Abhisekh is a young banker who has recently got transferred to Kochi. There , he chances upon a book written by someone named Asish Ben Ajay which basically is an account of the travel which Asish and his friends had made to Munnar (Chinnacanal).Not very much later, Abhisekh and his friends also decide to go on for a pleasure trip to Munnar (Chinnacanal). In the course of the journey, Abhi soon realises that they are also going through the same experiences, as described in the book, one by one!
          Coming to the positives, this book is undoubtedly a light and easy read.For the most part, 307.47 works well as an atmospheric ,suspenseful read.
The illustrations accompanying the text deserve special mention.It did help in elevating the reading experience to a great extend.
          On the downside, the book is not devoid of flaws either.A travelogue becomes more enjoyable when it describes places we haven't been quite acquainted with.But when it's about familiar places, you don't 'feel' much about it.In that sense, it didn't quite work for me.The mystery about the 'Thamizhathy' was also quite predictable.The climax and tail end portions could have been better thought out, though!

I'm giving it a 2.7 out of 5. Asish Ben Ajay is a promising talent as far as Malayalam Pulp Fiction is concerned!

 -nikhimenon

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