3 out of 4 stars
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Sort of a Cricket Story by Srikumar Menon is a multifaceted novel; it deals with coming of age, love, friendship, deception, and, as the title suggests, a crucial cricket match. Set in Delhi in the 1970s, the story focuses on three friends: Ravin, Prithvi and the Bull. The narrative flip-flops between a very important cricket match, which all three characters are involved in, and the story of the trio's friendship. The cricket match is told in the third person omniscient perspective, whereas the past events are narrated in the first person by Ravin. In the prologue, Ravin, a self-professed murderer, is at his wits end and makes the tragic decision to commit suicide, though it is clear he has been on a downward spiral for some time. The remainder of the novel unravels the story of how Ravin came to make this fateful decision.
Overall, this story is both exciting and emotional. The author does a wonderful job building suspense throughout the narrative as the characters are introduced and brought to life. Learning about the trio and the events that shaped their friendship over the years helped create a strong connection to the main characters. Further, each member of the trio had a distinct personality and individual character traits that made them all realistic, relatable and complex: Prithvi is stoic and amenable; the Bull is headstrong yet loyal; and Ravi is good-natured and driven. It was the intricacies of these three characters that made the novel most enjoyable and also what made the ending quite shocking.
Another aspect of the narrative that piqued my interest was the author’s masterful use of foreshadowing. At the onset of the novel, readers are left wondering about many things: from Ravin’s proclamation that he is a killer, to the motive behind his suicide, there were a lot of questions that needed answering. The author deftly sprinkled the story with clues, but it isn’t until the end of the novel that readers will fully understand the complexity of Ravin’s story. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the events come together, forming a complete and satisfying picture at the end of the novel.
However, there were some aspects about the story that I didn’t find as exciting. In some cases, the first person narrative seemed unreliable as Ravin would recount events, in great detail, for which he wasn't present. The telling of these situations was always full of dialogue and specific information which didn’t seem plausible given Ravin’s distance from the actual events. Additionally, the narrative for the cricket match may only appeal to a specific audience, namely those who understand the game and don’t mind reading a play by play of events. As someone with only basic knowledge of the sport, some of these passages were lost on me.
Lastly, there were quite a few editorial errors in the novel that lead me to believe this book was not professionally edited; errors related mostly to improper punctuation and capitalization. If not for these errors, I would have given this book a perfect score. With that in mind, I rate Sort of a Cricket Story 3 out of 4 stars. Fans of character-driven thrillers will thoroughly enjoy this story. However, readers who are unfamiliar with the workings of this particular sport may find some of the narrative tedious to read.
Sort of a Cricket Story
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