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Sunday, 6 July 2014

Book Review- Devil's Gate- Deepak Kripal



Title- The Devil's Gate- An Impossible Journey
Author- Deepak Kripal
ISBN- 978-93-83562-06-0
Publisher- Frog Books (www.leadstartcorp.com)
Price- Rs 175
Genre- Fiction/ Thriller


This is again a review on request as I received an email from this budding author and also an MBBS doctor- Mr Deepak Kripal to review his book. Glad that my blog is garnering an audience for itself. I wonder why it still shows just around 50 visits per day still?!

Anyway, coming to the book, as can be understood from the back cover summary, the book is an unusual thriller with the animal world rooting for its own survival from the deadly human race. I wonder if there if it's the medical professional in the author that has led to selection of this particular theme. Comparison with Michael Crichton (Jurassic Park fame)
 
becomes inevitable. I mean there is no comparison really as Crichton is really multitalented (author, scriptwriter, producer, director and oh yes, physician) and has made a name for himself; Kripal is just in the beginning stage. So, does the book really launch him? The answer can be anything but an emphatic 'yes' or 'no'. It is somewhere in between. 

About the author
Deepak is 29 years old, born in Uttarakhand and currently living in Delhi, he is a medical professional and a blogger. He blogs at theoriginalpoetry.blogspot.in and tweets with the handle @deepakkripal. Writing a book was his dream and through this story, he has chosen to debut in the arena. 

About the cover

For a medium level publishing company, leadstart books have been surprisingly good with the print quality and cover art etc. This cover shows a haunted gate and some paranormal activity as smoke builds up around an arid land with a gate in the middle of nowhere an a devil-like figure lurking behind it. The back cover describes the story involving Katy the cat and Dug the dog's journey to this island of 'five hundred graves'. I do think the back cover gives too much detail and some of the suspense could have been saved for the book. I recommend not reading the introduction.

About the book

Spread across 248 pages, the story of cats, dogs and various other animals does try to create empathy in the reader by making the characters less animal and more human. Love, fear, hatred and other universal emotions are generously used in the book to humanize the characters. I did wonder whether the author wanted to name the dog Doug instead of Dug but then I figured- he must really like word associations and since dogs 'dig', it makes more sense. The cat is named Katy (not Katie) and that too is obvious (Catty). I think using animal characters instead of humans is both a downside and upside of the book. Upside in the sense that it makes it unique and gives room for a lot of wordplay (which is never enough) and downside in the sense that it becomes less relatable and hence less thrilling. You tend to humanize the animals which sort of defeats the purpose of using animals. If your characters are crying and frowning instead of meowing and chewing on bones, you could have gone for human characters with litte tweaks in the plot. 

Anyway, the plot which involves demons and mystery trips has no flaw in terms of storyline which is interesting and weird and has a fair share of humour. Language is lucid, sometimes too lucid and the word selection is pretty familiar with hardly any need of brains. This is pu'l'p fiction (See what I did there?) but the characters are all taken from children's magazine. Here's how I would describe this book- if Champak (A children's magazine) was given to Tolkien to write and if English was his second language, this book might have been the result. There are cats, dogs, rabbits and all cute creatures and their tussles but then there's also mention of demons, angels, invisible islands, graves, blood and characters named like Akida and Nataniel. I think this book could be made into a graphic novel and then would reach more easily to its target audience who are teenagers.

The imagination of the author is pretty strong and many scenes create a very distinct picture that bring one's heart to his throat and interestingly, all this cliff-hanging daredevilry is performed by cats, dogs and their ilk. 
I think that though he is no Crichton, Kripal deserves applause for a different theme and though the book could use more puns and less paranormal stuff or a premise that declares that it doesn't take itself seriously, the book does a good job of keeping the reader hooked. I'd give this book two woofs and one cat-paw!

(3 stars out of 5)

See you until next time!

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