Feb 1
2016

Without You by Preethi Venugopala | Book Review

Without-You-by-Preethi-VenugopalaWithout You follows the life of a young girl – Ananya, as she finds love, then loses it, and then tries to find herself, while picking up the broken pieces of her heart.

The story starts with 20 year-old Ananya visiting her grandmother in Sreepuram. There, she falls head-over-heels in love with the very handsome Dr. Arjun, who works in a hospital, in-spite of the fact that he is the scion of the multi-million dollar Shine Group. Arjun, too, falls in love with Ananya, and soon they even have the grandmother’s blessing.

However, some unfavourable circumstances, lead to Ananya and Arjun going their separate ways, and Ananya’s grief over the loss of her love, propels her into a dark depression. The plot then follows Ananya’s life, as she tries to come to terms with her loss, and move on.

Will she be ever be able to completely forget Arjun? Will Ananya and Arjun cross paths again? If they do – would they still be in love with each other? More importantly – will their love find the strength to conquer the hurdles in their path, this time around? – these are the questions that get answered in the rest of the book.

My Thoughts:

I had distinct experiences while reading different sections; so I am going to review the book in those sections/chunks.

The beginning ( First 25% of the book)

As I started reading, the first thing that caught my attention, was the vivid description of the picturesque Sreepuram. Describing places is clearly the author’s strong suit, and she has demonstrated that several times in this book – from Sreepuram to Bangalore to Dubai.

My biggest grouse with this section is something which is also my biggest pet peeve while reading romances – Insta Love! (or instant love)

If the book is in the genre of romance – I need to see the characters falling in love, and see the relationship progress. The love story is central to a romance novel, so I don’t like short cuts here.

Which is why, insta-love (an often used short cut) puts me off, and this book had a clear case of the same – Ananya was in love with Arjun, before she even met him. For Arjun too – it was love at first-sight!

Now, I have read enough romances to understand that, yes, there are times when a story/book starts with one person harboring a secret (or not so secret) crush on the other person. But even in those situations – the progression of the love story is shown, which makes it okay (Case in point – Against All Rules by Summerita Rhyane). But in Without You – there was no development or progression shown.

Also, several things (plot/dialogue etc) in this section came across as immature, and juvenile (to me). There was too much repetition, and no subtlety. And this would have been understandable, and completely acceptable, if the characters were 16 or 18, but Ananya was 20 and Arjun was 26.

The middle ( 25%-75% of the book)

The highlight of this section (for me) was the author exploring Ananya’s thoughts and feelings post breakup, and I must say that it was very well done. She has brought out the self doubt and anguish that follows the heartbreak of a young girl – very well.

However, in-spite of that – this part dragged for me.  Mostly because, the pace slowed down, and there was too much of Ananya, and not enough of Arjun.

I must mention here that I personally enjoy dual POV in romances, but if not that, I at-least require the presence of both the protagonists for majority of the book (in romances).

This is just my personal preference. If it doesn’t bother you to follow just one person – the main protagonist – this should not be a problem.

The end (Final 25% of the book)

This is where the story/book redeemed itself (in my eyes). Arjun was back on the scene, and the story progressed smoothly. This segment almost made up for some of my earlier issues.

I say – some – because for me, nothing makes up for insta-love, and almost – because I have mixed feelings regarding the Colonel R.S.Nair track. While I can accept/understand it – the role he played in the lead pair’s love story, is a little unsettling – especially the supposed influence he had on the protagonist’s mind. For someone like me, it raises the question if things would have panned out differently, if not for the influence.  (I know this is vague, as I can’t even mention which protagonist, but this is the best way I can phrase it, while keeping the review spoiler-free).

Overall:

In-spite of the flaws mentioned –  it is a decent read; a good first attempt. I would be open to reading more from the author. This one is more suitable for teens/young adults over mature audiences.

Rating: 2.5/5

Lines that stayed with me:

These lines, right at the beginning of the book; they do a wonderful job of capturing Ananya’s state of mind –

“Every night, when I put my pen to paper, I wish to rewrite our story. I yearn to begin it where it ended. I want to re-script the end, the middle and the beginning. Then I realize that I love the beginning of our story, I cherish the moments at the middle, and the end, have we written it yet?”

Buying Links: 
Without You (Amazon)

I would love to hear from you guys. Do you read romances? What do you guys feel about insta-love in romances? Does it bother you at all? Or are you indifferent to it? Have you read Without You? If yes, I would love to hear your thoughts regarding the Colonel R.S.Nair track.

Lots of Love
Shantala

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Comments

  1. I’ve told you before that among the few book reviewers that I read, you top the list. Reviewing is a hard task and I know it cannot be easy to do it, especially in today’s age of social media. The problem with reviews written today is that they can swing both ways and as you rightly said, there are varying reasons for the star ratings in different reviews (an earlier post of yours).

    I am a person with strong opinions and I rarely, if ever, mince my words when it comes to reviews. It’s another reason I stopped writing them. The format you’ve followed for this review is a bit different from your other reviews and I appreciate your trying to pick out the good points and highlighting them.
    Shailaja recently posted…Be kind or be right: What’s your choice?My Profile

  2. Lata Sunil says:

    Shantala, Enjoyed the review. I could not accept R S Nair at the end as it defies logic. But, I liked the romance between Ananya and Arjun. Simply another reason for me to avoid ratings on the blog. Maybe, I would not have enjoyed it in a different mood and would have given a different rating. That ways its a bit difficult to be objective all the time.

    • Right, Lata. Our enjoyment of a book has a lot to do with timing. However, insta-love manages to put me off all the time; I am just not able to overlook it.

      I did like the romance between the two towards the end – less juvenile; especially enjoyed the reunion sequence – that was nicely done. But even then- I had some issues with Arjun.

      For one – he was really spineless in the first showdown with his mother, and he gave no explanation for it. Ananya covered up for him, saying she can understand that he froze. I felt that should have come from him.

      Also, the influence that I mention in the review – is Colonel’s appearance in Arjun’s dreams – how he kept telling Arjun to not forget Ananya. It makes me question if things would have panned out differently if not for him appearing in his dreams constantly – as a reminder. There is no way to know that.
      Shanaya Tales recently posted…Without You by Preethi Venugopala | Book ReviewMy Profile

  3. Oh I love the way you have reviewed this book. I read and reviewed this same book sometime back and I had the same feelings too. A lot of things especially the Colonel Nair bit made no sense at all. I did find the story a bit juvenile and amateur too. I’m surprised you liked the ending. I had most problems with the ending only, while the first 25% was described really well. The ending did not show the hero in good light at all.

    And as you said I have problems with insta love stories too. Love doesn’t happen that way. Atleast not in real times.

    Loved your honest and detailed review. It is very difficult to find such reviews oflate. People hate me for my reviews, but I’d rather be right than kind. I owe it to my readers.
    Soumya recently posted…Rejuvenated: Part 2My Profile

    • Oh I did not like the ending either; I just meant that I liked the last 25% more than the other parts. The things I liked in the last 25% were- the reunion sequence, Ananya’s life in Dubai with her colleagues etc. But this is relative, considering I found the middle very draggy, and did not enjoy the beginning at all, due to my issues with insta-love. So, compared to that, I liked the final 25%.

      Having said that, I did not like Arjun very much at all. He came across as juvenile in the beginning, and just generally spineless; especially in the first showdown with his mother. Also, he never gave any explanation for it. Ananya covered up for him saying that she could understand that he froze. For one, that should have come from him. Secondly, the explanation doesn’t make him any less spineless.

      But more importantly – I wonder if things would have panned out differently on Arjun’s side, if not for Colonel’s constant appearance in his dreams (as a reminder). That is what I was referring to when I mentioned about the influence.

      Agree with you on reviews. I would not want to trade honesty for being kind. I will try to word it politely though, but that’s all.
      Shanaya Tales recently posted…Without You by Preethi Venugopala | Book ReviewMy Profile

  4. Nicely done, Shantala. I was typing out a long comment when my system crashed. I liked how you have written what you prefer/not prefer which is not something necessarily wrong with the writing. About the love at first sight, yes, I also prefer a documentation of the falling in love journey. I do feel shortchanged but not annoyed. Even movies take that shortcut. Another thing about romances is that I do prefer romantic comedies. They add a certain sparkle. In the romance genre, I hate the on and on description about clothes and the perfect bodies of the characters. I wonder why our writers don’t experiment with normal people with normal looks? So your review did take me on a tangent.
    Rachna recently posted…A beautiful nightMy Profile

    • Oh I so agree with you, Rachna. Indian authors should experiment with having just everyday folk as their protagonists. Also, romantic comedies are my absolute favorites, but I can read just romance too – as long as it is well fleshed out. I feel shortchanged in a romance novel, when boy meets girl on Page 1, and by Page 3 – they are deeply in love and inseparable! I don’t mind this in any other genre, but in a romance, the love story is the central theme, so I don’t like shortcuts there.
      Shanaya Tales recently posted…Without You by Preethi Venugopala | Book ReviewMy Profile

  5. This is such a crisp, no-nonsense review. No beating about the bush. Absolutely unbiased and honest. Like you, I like romances that develop gradually…may be gen-next likes the Insta-Love fixes…kind of move on fast!
    You are simply too good my dear!
    Kala Ravi recently posted…Delirious Dilemma?My Profile

  6. I suppose this is as honest as reviews can get 🙂
    And I like your style too, Shantala. Of reviewing, I mean.
    Good job on highlighting the good points. And thank you for a honest take.
    Sid recently posted…Honey, I shrunk the jeans!My Profile

  7. I love your review Shantala. Instant love is a huge irritant for me too and not just in books in films too. When the protagonists talk of living and dying together it doesn’t ring true if the author hasn’t invested enough in building up the love-story. The heartbreak too then doesn’t seem justified. This one seems like a quick easy read.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…How do you choose a book for a friend?My Profile

  8. Candid review! I haven’t read this book yet. Am not in favor of Insta Love too. You can get attracted at first sight 😛 but the blossoming of Love is worth detailing, that too in a book falling in a Romance Genre. Infact, that detailing is what I would enjoy the most in a Romantic story 😀

    • You said it! Attraction – yes, completely understandable. Crush – yes, can be accepted, as long as the progression of the relationship is shown. But undying love from the moment one lays eyes on the other – too much, no? Especially in the genre of romance, this shortcut is not acceptable.

  9. Honestly, I have almost given up on new-age Indian authors (esp in romance), because they all mostly feel hugely inspired by CB and the ilk. So, probably would not read this anyway – but on a whim. Thanks for making me realise, I am better off saving my money than buying this!

    One point, I believe I would want to read about in your review, is also the language used by the author in the book. For someone like me, if the language is too “hinglish” or pedestrian, it would definitely put me off from reading ahead. Just a thought 🙂

    Wonderful review as always (And is this book like choti choti si baat?) 😛

    Love

  10. I like crisp, honest and to the point reviews. I haven’t read this book but have read some of her stories, blogposts, and I think Preethi has a nice writing style. And, that “Insta-Love” doesn’t work for me too.
    Tarang Sinha recently posted…Book Review: It Will Always Be You by Megha RaoMy Profile

  11. Loved your honest review. Keep reading and also keep posting to encourage us.
    Vasantha Vivek recently posted…3-Day Quote Challenge – Series 2 ( Love Is In The Air ) – Day 3My Profile

  12. Shantala – I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on the story or the plot. But this review is a very good one. Unbiased and honest. Something I totally loved about your writing is how you stayed with your point and worded appropriately. Way to go! 🙂
    Parul recently posted…NandiMy Profile

  13. Very well reviewed, Shantala! Your clear and unbiased opinion is very refreshing!
    Hema recently posted…Flash Fiction: Parallel UniversesMy Profile

  14. I haven’t read the book, Shantala. But I’ve heard a lot about it. You’ve done a fantastic job of reviewing the book in a very balanced and fair manner without spoilers, and that takes skill! I enjoy reviewing books, but after a few recent reads, am inclined to only share the ones that were very good. Feels much better 🙂 Not that I have a problem reviewing in general, but as far as my blog is concerned, the good stuff. Who wants to get into unnecessary arguments with authors! I do post honest reviews on Amazon and other sites, however. 🙂
    Vidya Sury recently posted…Can we place a price tag on our happiness?My Profile

  15. I love how you’ve reviewed this, Shantala! So crisp, honest and so well worded!
    Oh I have major issues with instalove!!! I was just thinking a few days ago about how instalove in literature ruined romance as a genre. Like it’s so easy! When does that ever happen!
    Sreesha recently posted…Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow RowellMy Profile

  16. I read the book and honestly did not think of instant love thing. But that’s where every reviewer becomes distinct and unique.

    But then I have never written romance genres and don’t have the hang for it too…although I have fallen in love but I guess falling and writing are two different paths to explore 😛

    It’s a wonderful book minus the doctor’s possessiveness towards her…
    ruchira recently posted…A Particular PackageMy Profile

  17. A really well written review – I really enjoyed reading it – well done! I would prefer a well build up love story as well – both in books and films…
    Eli recently posted…A gift from the heartMy Profile

  18. Fantastic and honest review, Shantala. I loved how you elaborated each section and gave your thoughts very well. Nothing is hidden. No vague sentences misleading the readers. And even better you did that very kindly, without punching the author in her face. That needs to be applauded. Such reviews will help authors in improving. Good going, dear! 🙂
    Vinitha recently posted…Some quotes and thoughts #FridayReflectionsMy Profile

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