Book Review: Evoked

Among the top 10 contestants of The Times of India—Write India campaign, Mansi Babbar is the co-author of this thriller series presented by award-winning author Ravi Subramanian

Evoked by Ravi Subramanian and Mansi Babbar

Introducing the series, Ravi Subramanian calls this a fast-paced novella, applauding the young co-author for having chosen the difficult genre of crime fiction. Subramaniam elucidates, “…in our country, romance and mythology are popular genres. Crime writing, though, is often considered too complicated, and has not seen many writers emerge.”

The mind is the most puzzling of all human organs, yet it is the decision maker. For crime thrillers to keep us hooked, the authors need to arouse a multitude of emotions, including a mix of repulsion and attraction. To some extent, this book does that.

The plot is neither unusual nor new. If you like watching crime series, have watched Bollywood thriller movies and read crime news daily, then you will not find anything shocking in the book. Teenage identical twins, Sevita and Sama, have just started college. Both the sisters are beautiful and only their behaviours and attitudes depict their difference. So, there is a good sister and a morose sister.

From the beginning it’s clear that everyone finds Sama weird, but tolerates her because of the kind-hearted Sevita. The family lives in the quiet hill-town of Lavasa and most of the inhabitants have migrated from the neighbouring cities of Pune or Mumbai.

This reminded me of the blockbuster 1993 movie Aaina, starring Jackie Shroff, Juhi Chawla and Amrita Singh. If you have seen the movie, then you would know how the spoilt Amrita Singh made life hell for her soft sister Juhi Chawla, as they both fall in love with the same man, Jackie Shroff.

The book begins on a slow note, highlighting the personality difference between the two sisters. There is no detailed description of characters; emphasis is on action and events that bring out the difference. If you like a Sherlock Holmes or an Iris Johansen or Agatha Christie, then you would miss the depth. But remember the note at the beginning–it’s a short book, a novella. I would call it a cozy mystery.

Taking the spin from this, the cold nature of Sama comes to the forefront in many ways—through her desire for solitude, dark curtains, emotionless eyes and cold shoulder to parents and sibling. Like her mother, the reader too is horrified to discover her killing moths to retain her sanity. Her toxicity is referred to as ‘acid’ and her actions are the results of the voices in her head.

The irony lies in the fact that the parents never bother to treat the morose one medically, but brush her coldness under the carpet. While the mother is uncomfortable around Sama, the father dotes on her. She also happens to do well in studies, whereas the popular Sevita is an average student.

There is a young lover-Kunal, who is in love with the soft-hearted Sevita. But he is protective towards Sama, because ‘they are family’. However, the dark mind of Sama is spinning a web. She spies on everyone, keeps aloof and finally, ends up a murderer. Sibling rivalry is a common theme, but sibling jealousy is a heightened mental health issue. It would have been good to explore these aspects in a little detail and more engaging manner.

There are some shiny parts though, such as the rebellious nature of young adults, their blossoming romance and desire to fit into society, exploring the adult world of freedom by driving and going out at night. The young adult fantasy of romance has been handled pretty decently. However, as a crime thriller that is not the goal of this book.

I like to read crime thrillers because the mind of a criminal is a complex web. It’s difficult to decipher what it would do next and the criminal mostly lives in the ‘fight or flight’ mode.  This book has no suspense, no tropes or surprises. It is rolled out like an OTT web series script, in which one event unleashes a series of events. Here, one murder leads to more murders, albeit through the devious plotting by a sociopath. Moreover, it even leaves the inspector-in-charge of the murders dumbstruck, who despite his instincts is unable to find evidence. It also leaves the reader wondering why people are not listening to their instincts and taking action. The doubts and suspicions arise far too late.

The book has used all the tried and tested formulas to show us the dark side of life. It has a loose ending, which can lead to different roads—similar to the way most web series build their episodes over many seasons until the grand finale which should have come in season 1 only. The narration is better suited for short visual episodes or even podcasts, where filming, editing and dramatics take precedence over immersive words.

Book Details:
Publisher: Harper Collins India
Language: English
Paperback: ‎ 228 pages, Kindle edition is also available
Price: INR 299

This review is powered by Writers Melon.


12 thoughts on “Book Review: Evoked

  1. A good thriller always sounds exciting and I have to admit I haven’t read many Indian thrillers of recent times. Thanks for the update!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thrillers are my jam especially when I am on a reading rut. But having read and watched quite a huge number of mysteries and thrillers, I think a loose-ended book wouldn’t appeal to me. Thanks for the detailed review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You wrote a detailed yet gripping review. For making understand the plot of the book, the illustration of movies, OTT web series and other things is commendable. Looking forward for more such insightful content.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The novel is written in such a way that you will fell in love with each and every story. Awaiting for more books from the same Author,
    Kudos to Mansi Babbar and Ravi Subramaniam for giving such tremendous experience


  5. Reading a thriller novel is all together different experience than watching movie or a web series. While reading, you live in that story somehow. Though I dont watch horror and thriller often, book is the safest option for me ♥️ will give a read

    Liked by 1 person

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