Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Book Reviews: My Sister's Keeper & Kindred

Have been searching for a copy of 'My Sister's Keeper' for a long time now - its got a fairly intriguing plot, and is by Jodi Picoult. I kept telling myself not to buy the book, but a copy from the library continued to elude me for almost a month. It was almost as if I were destined to buy the book - so buy it I did.

For those who haven't read Picoult's 'Keeping Faith' and 'Songs of the Humpback Whale', its a great book. For those who have, it is still a pretty good read - but slightly sappy at times (akin to Danielle Steele). The book deals with the issue of 'designer' babies - in this case, genetically created for the purpose of being a donor for an elder sister afflicted with a terminal disease. What happens when the child doesn't want to be a donor any more ? Picoult does manage to raise some valid questions. But the so-called twist in the tale, though unanticipated and all that, felt like a sort of anti-climax to me. And the climax itself, be warned, is a letdown (or perhaps, my expectations were too high). Neverthless, worth a read.

I have not read anything by Octavia Butler before, and so I approached 'Kindred' with no idea of what to expect. The writing style is lucid and sympathetic, and the book is easy to read. However, as a book that tries to highlight the atrocities of slavery, it falls short - IMHO, the writing is not powerful enough for that. But on the other hand, the characters are multi-dimensional, and are developed beautifully. The book deals with how an African-American woman from the twentieth century time-travels to the 1800s (when slavery was rampant), and narrates the course her life takes.

The book is termed a classic by most avid readers, but somehow it failed to really appeal to me in that genre. Perhaps, the fact that I have already read two fine books with a similar (time-travel related) narrative - 'The Time-Traveler's Wife' and the Diana Gabaldon-written 'Outlander' series have contributed to this. It is a fine book, nonetheless.

Just a thought: this style of prose offers several possibilities to the author. The protagonist thrown into the corresponding time-frame essentially echoes the author's view on the happenings of the time, and offers us a sense of perpective as well. My question: why has this technique been adopted by all these female authors, and not by any male ones (aren't there any testosterone-driven action packed stories in the past, goddammit !!!) ?

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