Sunday, December 4, 2016

Never Gone (Book Review)

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Name of the book: Never Gone
Name of the Author: Anusha Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books by Penguin Random House India 2016
ISBN: 9780143424963
Price: Rs.299; Pages: 268

Before writing about the book, it is important to mention here that the author is one of the youngest published authors in India. She was 15 while penning this tale. Also, she happens to be the daughter of banker-turned-writer Ravi Subramanian, who at 36 wrote his first book ‘If God was a banker’ and more recently, ‘The Bestseller She Wrote’.

Coming to the book, considering the author’s age and experiences till now, it’s a reflection of new-age school kids on the cusp of being adults – their friendships, relations with parents, their fears for the future and so much more. For elders, reading the book would be like revisiting the school days with its own share of fun and frolic tinged with board exam stress.

For young adults, this could be an intense ‘thought synthesiser’ thanks to the ways of dealing with certain circumstances by the characters of the story.

Teenage can be a very delicate time of life with hormones raging and with that we find ourselves raging at the drop of a hat. On top of that, consider losing a friend overnight, without goodbyes. It’s not a fight but a death that claims that friend. This is a tale of eight school friends with their fair share of fights, face-offs, jealousy and that strange thing called friendship, which surprisingly soothes the spasm caused by all three.

Losing a dear one at any point of life can turn one’s life upside down. Here, it shows how these friends cope up with such a tragedy amidst simmering tensions in the atmosphere thanks to that so-called life threatening, life-changing, approaching phenomenon called “the board examination”. Considering that the author herself is in the midst of such an atmosphere, she has deftly recreated such a situation, of course with her imagination doing further justice to the plot.

Finding letters written by a dead person for each friend -- thinking it would not be discovered -- can be like holding on to the last breathing piece that carries a part of the person when life was in full bloom for that one and when death seemed like a distant acquaintance who might not think of coming anytime soon.

Even though the characters seemed too many in the beginning and their issues frivolous at times, the author has managed to equally treat all her characters effectively to bring back some memories of school life where friendships ruled supreme and apprehensions about the future -- no matter how many-- seemed subliminal as compared to the now “trivial” matters that swirled all around then.
Also, the plot which does seem too fairytale-like in some instances is grounded and full of charms of teenage – replete with humour and drama.

Considering the author’s way of thinking, i.e. ‘why wait for someone else to do it when you can write your own fairy tale?’ it definitely is a good attempt at one.
Overall, it’s an entertaining book for young adults that could also serve as a guide to put certain traits formed while growing up into a better perspective for all. Adults might find it frivolous at times but it promises to ruffle some pages from one’s past for sure and bring back fuzzy, warm memories from an era preserved in the recesses of one’s mind.

-Divya Nambiar

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