October 23, 2016

Book Review: The Monk by Akshay Shroff

The Monk

Author: Akshay Shroff
Publisher: Gargi Publishers
Rating: 4/5

“There are no wrong turnings. Only paths we had not known we were meant to walk.”
― Guy Gavriel Kay, Tigana

As readers, what do we look for in a book? Good plot, strong yet magnetic protagonists, mystery and efficient dialogue delivery, isn’t it? Don’t we often get allured to the titles too? ‘The Monk’ might sound ordinary but it is a perfect example of contradiction (a combination of statements, ideas, or features which are opposed to one another). This is definitely that one book which should not be judged by its cover.

Lakshya Gaitonde, the male protagonist, is hard-bitten by the realities of life. With a dream of becoming a successful cricketer one day, he burns the midnight oil only to suffer in the hands of his destiny. He loses his father in a terror attack in Mumbai. And the action has an equal and opposite reaction. The ambition to shine with the bat changes to a desire to curb terrorism with the gun. No sooner does he settle in the profession, than his fiancée and mother die in a train blast. That was it. He had to avenge the deaths of his loved ones and to do that he came up with a fiendish plan of putting an end to the terror attacks.

The tables are turned when Lakshya fails to realize that there are charms about the forbidden that make it ineffably desirable. In the process, he becomes a sinner. But does every sin need a punishment? What if the sin committed results in something good? But Lakshya is not bothered about the outcome; his desire to quench the life of the terrorists is bigger than anything else. But will his plan reap benefits?

‘The Monk’ definitely has a lot more to it than it might portray. The elucidation of major terror attacks in Mumbai makes one relive the trauma; it makes one break out in a cold sweat! The title is contradictory to the cover page and that opens multiple doors for the curious minds. However, I felt that the blurb said a lot. Another drawback was the lack of space on each page; there was too much text and the desperate attempt to finish the book in less number of pages was evident. This could have been worked upon. Also, I missed the English translation on many pages.

Nevertheless, Gargi stands up to its name and yet again a fine story is given to the readers.

Overall, a fun-filled, action-packed novella that will lift up the spirits of all the Indians who have the deep desire to fight the bad.

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