Review: Defending Jacob: A Novel

Defending Jacob: A Novel
Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Jacob is a regular teen, living with his Mom and lawyer (actually, Asst. District Attorney) Dad, in the quiet suburbs of Boston. All is well until one day, one of his classmates is found brutally murdered in a park near the school. Cops find a fingerprint on the victim and it matches to Jacob’s. What follows is the tough battle for the family, both in the courtroom and outside, trying all they can to get Jacob out and prove his innocence.

‘Defending Jacob’ is something like a Jodi Picoult meets John Grisham type book. The emotional parts from Picoult and the courtroom drama from Grisham. I could have done without the former, but I guess that’s what made the book a bit different from the ones I’ve read so far.

It was a fast read, mostly because the author manages to keep the reader engaged through out, without any dull moments and general meandering. There are two plots happening at different times, but overlapping in between for the actual events. Good technique and I think it works well, keeping the narrative in tact.

There are some new perspectives I could read about in the book: about how an ADA feels sitting on the other side of the courtroom, next to the defendant; how a regular sub-urban Mom deals with the ostracism that comes with having a son accused of being a murderer and above all, how much of a part is played by a person’s genes in the actions that he/she does. [There are references to a ‘murder gene’ – google it up!].

I liked it. It’s one of my most-read genres (CSI fan that I am) and I wasn’t disappointed at all with this book!

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Review: The Shadow of the Wind

The Shadow of the Wind
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is not your run-off-the-mill type of book, that’s for sure. ‘The Shadow of the Wind’ is, at its very core, a story of love. The kind of love that is playful, joyous and cute. And the other kind of love, the one of pain, betrayal and sacrifice. One cannot help but fall in love with some of the characters!

I enjoyed reading this book (although when it started off, I was in two minds on whether I will like it or not) mainly because of the characters, rather than the plot/story-line. There’s so much depth to the characters and the author has done an amazing job of keeping them real, consistent and meaningful. Every one of them is there for a purpose and they come in and go only to satisfy that purpose. It reminded me of the Chekhov’s gun technique which in short says there should be no unnecessary elements in a story: if there’s a gun introduced in the first act, it better be fired by the third (or some such thing! you get my drift.). It helped this story in keeping to the thread and not straying with sub-plots and what not. Liked that a lot!

And one of my fundamental requirements in any book: it should take me to the place where the story is set. I got to travel to Barcelona with this one, folks! You can almost feel the weather and smell the streets and houses. Very few authors have this knack of transporting the reader to the place (real or imaginary!) where the story is unfolding and Ruiz Zafon has got it right. In some parts, it kinda reminded me of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s style of using colors and smell to draw a picture, rather than just a description of the elements in the scene.

The story, for me, was not very new. I kind of guessed the main twist in the first half of the book (if you were following my status updates on Goodreads, there’s a spoiler in there fellows! sorry!). It’s actually a no-brainer if you’re as devoted to books as I am. [Here’s a hint: No one can hate or love a book as much as the author. No one can be affected by the book as much as the author.] But still, it didn’t kill the book for me. I keep telling myself not to second guess the author, but yeah, doesn’t always work. I’ve learned to live with it.

So read this book. Take the journey with Daniel and his friends and you won’t regret knowing them. Get past the initial ‘wandering’ parts (at one point I was asking myself where the story is!) and then it’s all worth it.

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Review: Fracture

Fracture by Megan Miranda
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

In a lot of the best books I’ve read, there’s one main character that always ends up jolting me: Death. Same is true of ‘Fracture’. It’s about a girl who has a near fatal accident, but miraculously survives, despite severe brain damage. She seems perfectly normal, but deep down something has changed in her. She can sense when someone is dying.

I’m told this is the author’s debut novel. For a first-timer, Megan Miranda has got it mostly right. I personally found the young-adult part of the novel a tad ridiculous (refrain from making age-related comments about me here for your physical and mental well-being – warning!) but then, dude, I’m the one who also enjoyed Twilight (still do, actually. Ok enough.). So yeah, if you don’t mind the YA bit, you’ll probably give this book more stars than the 2 I’ve given.

The writing style was very engrossing and I didn’t feel like putting the book down. When I was leaving home for work today, I was at the 89% mark. So I actually came in to work and finished it while my e-mails and dashboards were loading up. Yep, that’s me. And it’s a very short read too, but what little it has, it makes an impact. I liked the central plot of the whole sensing-death thing, but all the juvenile stuff ended up being a distraction. At one point, I mentally smacked Delaney on her head when she was over-thinking Decker’s feelings for her. I mean, girl, you got death-sensing capabilities and all you can think of is who your crush is smooching?! Oh, c’mon.

Maybe if the blurb on Goodreads had given me a hint that it was YA, well, I would’ve still picked up the book but my expectations wouldn’t have been this high. No harm done still. Enjoyed the book during the good parts (mostly the second half) and glossed over the mush and senti. Pick it up if you don’t mind the YA-paranormal combo!

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Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m this close to buying an iPad right now. And something’s changed about the way I look at my regular Windows-based laptop – it just got a wee bit ugly and cumbersome to use. Why? Because I read about how Apple products look and behave. I read about why and how they were designed the way they are. About the man who brought them into existence.

I’m not a big fan of non-fiction and/or biographies, but I just had to read this one because it was about Steve Jobs. And I was not disappointed. It was such an eye-opener of a book, into the man’s life and maybe even parts of his mind. The author has not minced words when it came to the tough topics and has been generous where praise was due. It’s not a book that glorifies Jobs unconditionally nor is it a book that paints him as a control-freak of a dictator. It’s about the man and what led him to do all the things he did.

Read the book. You won’t regret knowing that little bit more about Jobs and how Apple and its products came into being. And excuse me while I go and get myself an iPad.

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