February 20, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: 'Xcess Baggage' by Varsha Dixit

 Varsha Dixit's 'Xcess Baggage'--supposedly India's first sci-fi vampire novel-- is  painfully slow to take off. It is about an Indian girl in the US who seems to get nothing right and leaves a pitying mundane life with home and office as the only two destinations. Meghna Chandra has left her parent's home and settled in the West as her family members could not respect her way of living. She bumps into Lord Byron, a mystery creature with looks to die for and is scared when she sees him morph his features at will. As the story progresses, we come to know that Byron is a hybrid between a vampire and a werewolf, two creatures who don't see eye to eye and Byron commands both as he is a 'Lord' (hybrid) which are rare. And after Sundip Gorai's 'Hickory Dickory Shock', I have just begun to wonder is 'Lord' going to be the literary word of the year (Chalo, isi bahane se uparwaale ko yaad to kiya!)
Anyway getting back to this Lord, like Edward Cullen, Byron has had all the time in the world, basking in his immortality to learn everything from medicine to arts. And it is this immortality that he has set out to destroy on behalf of his vampire clan. The immortality is apparently a curse from 'Rusalka' or the unquiet dead as they call a spirit that supposedly resides under Meghna and it is for this reason that he meets Meghna citing a passing wish that she makes somewhere in the first few pages. Of course then there are fights with the rival clan who seem to enjoy their immortality and are afraid that doing anything to the unquiet dead might end up putting their lives in threat. There is an anticipated passion between Byron and Meghna which is really the main highlight of the book.
The characterization is wonderful as you can identify with a lot of personal traits and in the end, Byron doesn't end up looking as perfect as he seems which is a plus point from the writing aspect of creating realistic characters (though how far vampires and werewolves qualify for that, I have no idea!) Byron is an elegant, majestic name and the author justifies it in the manner the character handles himself. You sometimes wish that Meghna lessens a little of her stupidity as after a point of time it becomes a headache to bear. It is inspiring on the author's part to come up with a paranormal romance in India when there has been a saturation in the market with foreign titles. This is her second book after 'Right fit, Wrong shoe' which explored traditional romance gone wrong. And I'm sad to say the author disappoints with this one if we compare the two. Nevertheless, I don't wish to make comparisons and individually, this book stands out on its own and I applaud the author for coming out with such a novel idea in this market. Nice defining cover too which sets the mood for the story (though the wolves might feel left out and I hope they don't sue for that!) Also kudos to the author, for the way she ends every chapter (lessons to be learned here) by keeping the reader in suspense.
Towards the ending, you are so engrossed in the story that you pardon the author for the initial disappointment, only to end up disappointed at the last page. I wish I could say more though the writer side of me is aching to justify but that would spoil the flavor of reading and I do wish you give this one a try, especially if you are the kind who dream of a vampire lover or a werewolf husband. As for the rating, a 3.3/5 would suit it just fine!

Get it from Infibeam.



2 comments:

Ritu said...

Okay, decided. I will buy the book

Faraaz Kazi said...

Am happy that my review made you think about it :)

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