There is something about the way that Kanika imagines a world that is completely gripping. When we read the first couple of chapters of the novel–the rest was still unwritten–we just wanted Kanika to go away and write more–because we really wanted to know what happens next. I think some part of her experience is writing film scripts permeates into her novel writing because the movement is swift, the descriptions sparse, and the action extremely driven. The book moves super fast, and the central group of characters well imagined.
As a child, I loved stories set in schools, and I continue to love them. From a slighter older age, I loved superhero stories. And of course for me Rowling’s great achievement is how she brings the two together in a seamless world.
Kanika takes these popular tropes and weaves them together with her vision of a dystopic future world into a narrative that is exhilarating and extremely real. And extremely unusual for Indian YA fiction.
The first time I read Shiva and the Rise of Shadows I finished it one go. It’s that kind of book. It’s very visual, so you can practically see the action unfolding, and the characters are the wise-cracking, ass-kicking kind of young people that keep you engaged and make you want to cheer them on. Stories of apocalypse and dystopia are all the rage in YA fiction, but there aren’t many that are set in India. And to add to the fun, much of it is set in a school, so you also get the dynamic of the school genre which is one that I love and wish we could see more of in Indian fiction. If you like adventure stories, school stories or fantasy – in fact if you like fiction–you will love this book!