Book: Radius 200
Author: Veena Nagpal
Genre: Cataclysmic Drama
In One Line: Humanity’s urge to live, and to find.
Characterisation: To me, the story is about Kyra and her character has been sketched well enough. However, those of the other two protagonists, Arjun and Om, is a little sketchy. Somewhere, I felt, that in the process of writing a lot of details about military, nuclear explosions and its effect on people, the author has left most of the characters without much flesh and blood. I would have loved to read more about the character development and lesser about how they eat insects and rodents within the exclusion zone.
One specific instance I thought of mentioning in this context. There is a part, toward, the beginning of the story, which says that Kyra and Arjun had sex. Number one, Kyra knows that she loves Om. Number two, Arjun is married. Number three, Kyra did not need to have sex with Arjun to get her work done – she wasn’t that type. Four, these two had been engaged once, but she did not feel anything for Arjun anymore. Five, Arjun wasn’t the type who would forcefully take a woman to bed. Six, neither of them were drunk. Then why did it happen? And why does the author say that they were “unapologetic” after it was done? Somewhere, I feel, that in the want to write a little about sex in order to make the read titillating, we forget the relationship analysis.
Language: The language is simple and easy to comprehend. However, there is a lot of information about nuclear reaction, military and its personnel, finding of the elusive Saraswati river etc. Taking these in and thereafter moving on with the story, will bring down your speed of reading. I, for one, had to re-read quite a few portions more than once.
Plot Setting: The tale is set in the year 2040. So, there will be a great many things, that might take a while for you to get the hang of. For instance, reading about heavily disfigured people who eat the likes of rats and ration how many drops of water they will get in a day might not make much sense initially. But, slowly, it all does fall into place. Kudos to the author for her creativity.
Book Cover Art: The reddish orange backdrop is an apt reflection of the explosion that happened as is the blue hue that reflects the search for water. However, instead of the red blobs, maybe if the silhouettes of the disfigured bodies and the disfigured shell pendant was shown, the cover might have looked more effective.
How’s the Title: It’s a good one. It fits in with the storyline and yet does not reveal everything about what is to happen in the pages within.
Is The Blurb Catchy: I liked the question format of the blurb. This format always intrigues the reader.
Learning From The Story: We all know the myths and legends that shroud the river Saraswati This book says that years later it shall be found. Why this is a learning for me is because this fact caught my curiosity so much that I read up a little about the river and the latest news regarding it. In 2016, a six month investigation carried out by a seven-member committee from the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research had said that they had found evidence from palaeochannels — remnants of defunct rivers. This means that this river really did exist!
Areas Of Improvement:
- The praise for the story right in the beginning of the book is good. However, it would be good if it could have been restricted a little.
- Both the present and the past follow the same formatting. In the beginning it was getting a little confusing for me.
- Definitely an over-mention of the characters in the exclusion zone eating lizards!
What Is ‘Said By Not Saying’: This is not a story about love. It is about how we, the human clan, can survive extremes. Through her imagination and vivid description, the author has brought this out well.
My Reaction When I Finally Closed The Book:
You might like to read: