The Reengineers : Early Feedback

Reviews of early versions of excerpts of The Reengineers which was earlier titled ‘The Author and The Hero’ courtesy Amazon.com and the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest. I thank everyone who took out the time to read the excerpts and share their thoughts.

“For the first few pages of this excerpt, I mistakenly thought that the narrator was a young woman. I was somewhat surprised when it was revealed that he was a fifteen year old boy. I went back and reread the opening sequence, and I realized that the reason I had assumed the narrator was female was not because of any feminine characteristics. Rather, I found myself connecting with the protagonist so much that I began to imagine myself in his place. Since I’m a woman, I imagined the narrator was as well. It is rare for an author to create such a powerful and compelling character that I am able to so easily relate to and identify with him, especially with such a small amount of text. I think both men and women, old and young, will find this character as fascinating and intriguing as I did.

This was a beautifully written story, and I would call it one of the best that I’ve read so far. The characters were brought to life exceptionally well, and the setting was described so skillfully that I could easily imagine myself in every single scene. I enjoyed the characters, especially Aunt Kalynai and Uncle RK. Who knew it was possible to be so charmed by a character that has been dead for a decade? With the exception of a few overly flowery passages, this excerpt was truly top notch. I applaud the author’s creativity and talent.”
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

“This novel tells the story of an as-yet-unnamed narrator, a fifteen year old boy living with an aunt in Madras, India, while his parents go through a divorce. The narrator is suicidal, but, in an opening prologue, describes the moment when he realized he no longer needed to feel suicidal, that he could experience renewed hope. The piece is beautifully written in a strong, crafted, lyrical style. The story-telling is subtle, balancing vignettes with background information and plot movement. I wanted to read more.

The author uses repetition and subtlety to convey emotion, as in this passage: “Anu, Sabi and I shared a common bond of the winter within, a winter of the mind that had nothing to do with being fifteen. Though we never discussed it, I knew it from the way they talked, the way they thawed as I did in the warmth of a few laughs in the library. I knew it from the way they were as eager as I was to enter the library, and as reluctant to leave it.””
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

“This excerpt has a very involving voice, the kind that can make the little events of life – and big ones like contemplated suicide – engaging. It’s a voice that makes the quotidian details of relatives’ and friends’ lives interesting. It doesn’t rely on the exoticism of its Indian setting though that adds interest, particularly with the narrator’s dead uncle being a poet of national renown or the matter of inter-caste marriage. The prose strikes a very good balance between avoiding a mere bare bones relating of the facts and avoiding too artificial of description and metaphor”
Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Expert Reviewer

Overlooked gem, Review by By Paul Margolis
Simply stated, this is just great stuff, stylish, dripping with vivid detail, effortlessly giving a sense not just of the physical present, but also of the past. I could not help but sense some subtle (perhaps indirect) influence by Dostoyevsky or Nabokov, evident in the way the narrator’s world is laid out for the reader’s consideration in poetic details that sprawl across a broad continuum of time and philosophic contemplation. This short excerpt has too many sweet spots to list, but I will cite just a couple early passages (describing a library) that show off the sweep of this author’s style:

“That library was my sanctuary, a world removed from the loud, perpetual echoes of arguments that bounced off the walls of the apartment that was supposed to be my home. I sought the comforting silence to get away from the white noise that had seeped within and solidified like snow around my thoughts. A disturbing white noise that could not be tuned, blocked, or wished away, that had frozen me to the core beneath the sweltering Madras skies so much that I might have been living in the North Pole.”

Also great:
“Fifteen is the age when time starts to make its presence felt. Time took on such a variety of hues and shades that even my frozen mind sometimes took on the colours of the skies and fluttered in the occasional humid, salty breeze. In those moments, when the brilliant blue skies, the flaming orange and yellow carpets beneath the Gulmohur trees in the school grounds and the nut-brown twinkles in Sonia Shastri’s eyes when they met my own splashed into the moments of life, in those moments I felt alive. Only time had no colour in the library. In the library, time simply ceased to be.”

The synopsis shows that this book eventually twists into something quite bold and different. I greatly look forward to reading this book in its entirety when it’s published. Absolutely great work.

Elegant and Nostalgic, Review by Yu-han Chao “Passport Baby”
“Fifteen is the age when time starts to make its presence felt. Time took on such a variety of hues and shades that even my frozen mind sometimes took on the colours of the skies and fluttered in the occasional humid, salty breeze.”

As one can see from the above quote, this is a beautifully written and nostalgic masterpiece. One by one we read descriptions of different characters and their backgrounds, Auntie Kalyani and her devotion to her husband RK (despite other calling him a tyrant), the interesting history and personality of Auntie Kalyani’s maid, and the narrator. This is not a fastpaced or action-packed plot-driven piece of fiction, but peaceful and elegant. I would gladly read the rest of the book!

A gentle tale, Review by Enrico A

This coming-of-age story of a fifteen-year-old boy, growing up in a middle class neighborhood in India is a true gem. Written in beautiful formal prose, it tells a touching story of three nerdy teenage outcasts who seek refuge from their everyday angst in a library. All of them have troublesome family life, none more than our sympathetic protagonist Chimnay who immerses himself in the stories he finds at the library. The friendship between the three is real and one can’t help but put himself in their shoes. This is a lovely book that has to be read a bit at time to savor the depth of the message being told. Five Stars!

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