"...everything the summary promises"

Posted 1/11/2016

a review by Dhivya Balaji - Readers' Muse (http://readmuse.blogspot.in)

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: The author sent me a review copy in exchange for a honest review. I thank the author for providing me with a paperback copy first and a digital one on request.

 

 FIRST IMPRESSION:

 The title - while 'end of innocence' could mean a lot of things, most people often come to a common conclusion that it has to mean the end of childish innocence and one hell of a ride into adulthood with drinks, drugs and other 'forbidden' pleasures. This book speaks of these things - albeit in the 90's era. The cover, beautifully designed and aesthetically pleasing, was one of the reasons why I picked this book up.

 

REVIEW:

I am a '90's kid'. There. Confession made. It both saddens me and amuses me that '90's kid' has nowadays become a legitimate term to denote nostalgia, a wistful trip down the memory lane and feeling all the things that one would feel at 40 at the tender ages of 25 to 27, sometimes 30. I should begin my review by thanking the author for not stereotyping the 90s and instead making the book genuinely interesting.

 

Raghu is the regular 90s boy - someone who juggles school, romance, friends, happiness, strict parents and a middle class life - with hormone infused desires. But he endears readers by being a boy in control of his senses and not doing anything disastrously bad. Yes he makes mistakes, screws up certain things and manages to move on, grow up and become a man. Eighteen The End of Innocence is the story of adoloscent kids - friends who get together and experience life. It is simple, clean and narrated with very few twists and turns.

 

The story is everything the summary promises. There is the mandatory love and the small confusions that arise when the best friend is sometimes given less priority once love happens. Other than the lead characters, the 'supporting cast' also have some blink and miss appearances - that says more about the way of life than the writing style of the book. The age of eighteen is usually when boys and girls move on from the friends they made since they were kids and instead search for new 'adults' to make friends with while they go away from the nest for higher education. The characters of Shalini, Adhi and the little intrigue of the identity of the blank caller were what kept me reading the book.
 
It took me down the memory lane - when cellphones did not exist and when blank calls over landline telephones were very much a noticeable menace. The author manages to capture the spirit of life in the nineties with elements like the tension surrounding the entrance examination, the habits and behaviour of teenagers back then and how life generally was before technology invaded every aspect of our lives. Special thanks to him for not making any of this sound stereotypical or over the top.
 
But, on the other hand, the book had the potential to be something more than this. While I did not really expect a moral from the story, I did look forward to a few twists that differentiated this book from other novels of this genre - and was, in most cases, disappointed. It was about the nineties - the time when friends just showed up at our doorstep unnanounced and the main phrase used was 'let us meet up and plan our outing' instead of 'let us plan and meet for a dinner'. The innocence, the unhurried hustle and of course the beauty that is the nineties had a lot more scope for spinning a yarn.
 
The good and the bad said, this book is a nice read. It stays true to the summary, delivers what it promises - without many twists, and has good language. Though some parts might seem like additions to the story to tell you more about how life was back then, they add to the overall charm. If you are a '90s kid' and want to read an honest book, this one would interest you.

 

WHAT I LIKED:
  • The characterisation of Raghu - a good blend of uncertainty, moral fibre, daring and confusion
  • The narration - at places
  • The beautiful cover picture

 

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:

 

  • This book had the potential to make one very nostalgic. But somehow, this does not offer much to take back except the occasional smile as we read certain things
  • The climax scene (the car chase) almost resembled an appendix - one that was added to create an interesting ending.

 

 VERDICT:

 

A coming of age story that gives you nostalgia, if you have done the few things 'innocent' youngsters did in the nineties.

 

 RATING: 3.75/5

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