Book Title: The Surrogate Lies
Author: Shantanu Munshi
Total Number of Pages: 242
Publisher: Half Baked Beans
Publication Date: 15 Nov 2017
Genre: Fiction / Adventure
A dysfunctional writer, a hyperbole consultant, a Bollywood smitten driver and an over the top mysterious foreign man. They are strangers on an adventure and strange is their adventure. Their escapades are as serendipitous as life on earth yet their lives are as normal as a morning tea. Still you will laugh, cry, sympathise with them en route to their and yours redemption from the mundane life. Read as they dodge the bullets of their fear, their insecurities and their failures. They are waiting for you to board the rusted and trusted 4*4 and enjoy the smooth rollercoaster. So all aboard? Get started and turn the first page of this special journey of this nondescript motley of strangers.
This book which I recently read cannot be confined to a single sub-genre. Yes, it of course comes in the genre of fiction but other than that, I could not fit it in a particular sub-genre. The book has got different elements; say travel, adventure, some philosophy going in there, a little bit of thriller and mystery elements and then there’s humour, lots of it. The Surrogate Lies is a strange concoction for a fiction book yet the author has managed to blend everything together so well that none of the elements feels to be the odd one. Reminds me of those fusion dishes which I rarely eat.
The Surrogate Lies is again a book which stands out from all those run-of-the-mill books which only focuses on a single element and then weaves a 300 page tale out of it. After my tedious reading journey from the past few days, The Surrogate Lies came as a pleasant surprise. It isn’t that the story is top-notch and something totally different, it’s the presentation and the blending which I was impressed with.
At first glance, the plot would seem very ordinary but the way the author has managed to bring the four different characters who belong from four different sectors of life together, narrating their story of quotidian life is what makes the book a different read.
There are four different characters namely Paul, who is a writer; Hazare who has a mysterious job but let’s stick with him being a consultant; Raj who is a driver and a bollywood fanatic; and a mystery man who is later found to be named as Ben who is an environmentalist. These four people plan for an adventure ride to the jungles of Gir Forest in Gujarat. As they start with their journey, they encounter many different situations and battle with their fears, insecurities and failures. This journey proves to be life changing for all the four characters as they return with more of an enlightened soul and gain a new perspective on their lives.
Everyone needs a break from the regular humdrum of our lives. Adventure trips are like energizers that gives you the much needed boost to tackle the rest of your monotonous work life. While not many of us find them to be fruitful, Paul and company (I am not going to name them every time) finds their journey to be beneficial.
Now, generally I don’t talk about the blurbs but I have got to mention this, the blurb was well written and it was interesting. It doesn’t reveal much about the story but at the same time leaves hints for you to guess. The tile is also very catchy and suits the story.
The plot is actually very simple. It’s the writing style that makes all the difference. Right from the beginning the author has included many scenes which are humorous and so so relatable to our daily lives. The tone is sarcastic and even though the writer mocks the situations, I couldn’t help but find certain situations concordant to our day to day circumstances.
The Surrogate Lies is written from a first person narrator’s perspective. The first person narrator being Paul. While Paul is supposed to be the main protagonist, it doesn’t feel that the whole plotline is revolving around him. So, it’s would be wrong to assume that Paul is the main character even when the book is narrated from his point of view because the other three characters share equal screen space with him. The book is set in the present time. The narration is not descriptive where the paragraphs keep going on and on. Instead, the characters do the talking and only the scenes are set by the narrator. So, there are more dialogues than descriptions.
The flow of the story was smooth through the entire book and the sequencing of the scenes were also carried out well. The language is not exactly crisp and polished but still it doesn’t come off as amateurish. It’s colloquial and idiomatic, the everyday language we use while conversing. The characters who were once strangers to one another become friends by the end of their escapade. This transition was again worked on well.
There’s no doubt that I liked the narration, it was refreshing and quite different from other books. The dialogues were witty and funny but I couldn’t help feel at times that they were just plain silly, or in other words nonsensical and absurd. This wasn’t the case with the entire book but just at some particular pages. And for the cover, I just have to say what does a typewriter got to do with an adventure story except for typing, of course? I found the back cover more appealing and appropriate for the book than the front. There were some grammatical and punctuation errors which I spotted. Also, I felt that the alphabet “I” was a bit overused at certain times. That’s all for the “misses” part which can be easily worked on. They aren’t any major issues but please, the book surely needs a new cover.
MY FINAL VERDICT
This was an easy breezy read that didn’t get boring. The book could be your next travel partner.
If you like adventure stories and if you’re a fan of humour, you could definitely add this to your tbr pile.
Book Cover: ⭐⭐.8
Book Title: ⭐⭐⭐.5
Writing Style: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Language and Vocabulary: ⭐⭐⭐.5
Grammar and Punctuation: ⭐⭐⭐
POESY IN CHRYSALIS RATING: ⭐⭐⭐.8 / ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
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