Friday, April 5, 2013

Book Review - Tantra

            Tantra, is the latest book to hit the stores, in the Indian fantasy fiction genre. The author is Adi. I wonder if it was a PR choice to just go with a more personal version of his name straightaway. I don’t know how everyone else is taking it, but to me it just feels unconnected. I keep waiting for something to follow the name, a surname or a moniker. Something that’ll endear to me, the owner of the text I’m ploughing through.
And that also remains my strongest complaint about the novel. It just doesn’t connect.

           Tantra tells you the story of a vampire hunter who fills out for a transfer from NYC to Delhi. She has her reasons, vengeance being one of them. How she adapts to what is originally her country and a relatively lackadaisical hunting system, stumbles upon the bad guy who is trying to take over the world, albeit for reasons he thinks are legitimate and how she thwarts his attempt, form the gist.

           Reading the book, I felt like watching TV on a day where heavy rain has messed up the system and the picture is all but a cluster of dots and bands and lines on the screen, buzzing out every few seconds. You don’t collectively watch any program but you know it still counts as watching TV. That’s as best as I can explain my experience.  
Let me get down to the tough part, then.

What did not work for me:

Where do I begin?

1 – The heroine : Anu. Again, named to match the brevity of the author’s, is a very confused woman indeed.

She annoyed me to my limits and here’s why:

She calls herself badass
She is NOT badass

She tries to be sarcastic
She is oh so not sarcastic
She thinks she loved Brian
From her account of it, I felt Brian was more of an enjoyable sexual experiment. She did say ‘fuck me’ to him every single time they met and not once an ‘I love you’ or a confession.
She thinks grabbing mens' balls is badass
I think she is a sex addict who likes to play games. Not to mention the dozen other recollections and incidents involving flirting, blushing, grabbing, ‘fucking’ (her words, not mine) and even slapping a guy after making out. She needs therapy. She could’ve done well as a character on Gossip Girl.
She thinks she’s falling for Gaurav
Dude, protect your balls.
She thinks wearing leather makes her cool
I think she isn’t professional enough to adapt to her mission or atleast pretend to.

I think, a more diabolical name could’ve helped her image a little bit, if not salvage it. Something like Maya or Tara or Shakthi or even Tantra. I actually thought hence the title.

2 – Language & Narration : I have no solid complaint in the grammar department but the narration was not engaging at all. There was something missing, a hook maybe or style or perhaps execution. The plot is actually decent and has potential but it just did not work for me.

3 – Details : Too much at times, too little at others. Some of the characters are similar and a few others do not make any impact. Nina aunty was irritating, Smiti was a Xerox of Nina aunty. Chandra, Panditji, Dr. Sharma, Suresh and Karim sounded like each other, and the villain Senaka actually had very little part to play!

There was a lot of mumbo jumbo explanation that Anu wasn’t very interested in learning, so I took her lead and chose to be bored of them. I appreciate the idea but the final output falls flat.

This one line in the climax surprised me – Already, there are illogical bits happening, like Dr. Sharma doing a Dumbledore and trying to take on Senaka a.k.a Voldy here, and the two of them going on and on about their master (What villain waits patiently for his enemy to compare notes and distribute power? If it were me, I’d have had him at hi.) Then, Senaka actually says “...he was to be our guru, not a mindless Scrooge dancing to the fall of gold coins!”  Wait, did this guy just refer to Uncle Scrooge? Apparently, you can afford to take cartoon breaks while on the way to achieving spiritual enlightenment or conquering the world. Sounds fun. Sign me up! I’d love to know if Senaka likes Johnny Bravo.

What did work for me:

1 – The saving grace of the entire book : AMIT! I love that guy. Now, here’s someone who is sweet and funny! (Anu, take notes) I would not have read further if he had died towards the end. I suggest making him the hero and shipping Anu back to NYC where she can mope over Brian and grab balls in bars.

Which brings us to the fact that this is a book series so there’s more fare to come. I hope the author will find a better pace and connect, with the rest of the books he has planned. Less preachy choomantar and more intriguing tantra, please.

2 - I thought the bookmark idea was neat.

Oh and the demon in the cover – kinda off-putting. Vampires are good looking (No. Not THAT one you are thinking about. Try the Salvatore brothers) and the vampires even in this book are in human form, who blend with the crowd. If I saw someone who looked liked the cover-demon, I’d most likely think Halloween-costume-overdone. Hey, maybe Anu brought a souvenir back with her?


A good plot that could use tighter execution and a different protagonist. 

Rating : 3/5 (For Amit)

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  1. Oh man! Our views are totally similar on this book!!! I thought it'd be me who'd talk about Senaka being similar to Voldemort first! You did it first ;)

    I actually liked it in some parts, but I agree on a lot of your points in "What did not work for me". So true. I thought it's innovative, but then yes, it turned into what seemed like a Hindi movie.

    I like Amit too. I liked Jitender too, however small his role may be! And as I haven't finished the book yet (I'm on that stage when Anu's in Lodhi Garden talking to Chandra. What's with the super simple names anyway? :/ I didn't like half of them!), I wasn't aware that it's a series. I hope the next one is better, though I'd still say it's a good attempt. Maybe too many things at once, but okay. (I'll stop before I write a full review here :P )

    1. Ha ha ha! Hey Ashna. Long time :) Yeah, I didn't like the names either. Sounded like employees in a seedy government office.