Neelima by Moncy Skaria is the story of a female artist, Neelima, who is in the quest for completeness. Rajesh settled outside Kerala, is a self-made man and a pretty successful professional. He chances upon the title character, and a bond soon develops between them.
Coming to the positives, the novel is a light read and can definitely be read in one sitting. At just about 150 pages, it never feels overlong at any point in time. Those who have a taste for emotional relationship dramas might find this one as an okayish read, at best. The narration is also breezy and somewhat fast-paced.
This relationship drama didn't work for me because of regressive ideas, wannabe philosophical lines, and plastic, half-baked characters. I didn't get why the narrator, Rajesh felt a strong bond with Neelima in the first place! Many crucial scenes in the novel felt unconvincing. Towards the second half of the story, there is a sequence where Rajesh saves Neelima from a bunch of goons on a beach. Okay, what was the whole point? We were told that Neelima is a super-rich woman who is not short of resources, then why did she have to run around on the beach for something as inane as that in this era where everything can be accessed online in the click of a button?
There are too many coincidences, and almost every major twist in the narrative happens in an unconvincing manner.
Coming to the characters, though there aren't many, even those there are plastic and one-dimensional. The reader never knows the real 'Vikas' or 'Ajith.' Neelima is also a pretty confusing character. (I think even the writer also had confusion regarding how to portray her!). If the writer intended to portray her as a slightly mystic character with emotional swings, I am sorry that It has not turned out that well. The other principal character, Rajesh, also comes across as a shaky guy. In the late eighties and early nineties, Balachandra Menon wrote pretty well-off male leads with a heart of Gold, having an opinion on anything and everything under the sun and ready to sacrifice anything and everything for their best friends. I couldn't help drawing parallels between them and Moncy Skaria's Rajesh. I still can't fathom why Rajesh had to indulge too much stand about Neelima's equations with Ajith and Vikas? The hospital scenes are also written in a lousy manner, to say the least!
On the whole, Neelima by Moncy Skaria is a half-baked attempt, in my opinion. If you are looking for a light read on a lazy Sunday afternoon, you can try this one.