The Grasshopper's Run by Siddhartha Sarma

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The Grasshopper's Run by Siddhartha Sarma

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Category: Teens
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: While it's very well written with some beautiful prose and excellent in its description of India during World War II, the characters in this tale of revenge didn't quite captivate me. Still worth a look and I'd certainly try Sarma's next novel.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: May 2011
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 978-1408809402

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India 1944, and the Japanese are coming. In a brutalopening, we see the inhabitants of a small village get massacred, and the brutal killing of Uti, grandson of the leader of the tribe who live there. His best friend Gojen escapes, as he's in school far away. On hearing of the tragedy, the youngster swears revenge, and embarks on a journey which will take him across his country in search of the man responsible for his friend's death.

I enjoy historical fiction and am trying to read more about other cultures, so having enjoyed several Asian novels recently – particularly Chinaman and A Beautiful Lie - I was looking forward to The Grasshopper's Run. There's some really excellent aspects to it – Sarma's descriptions of India at the time quickly draw you into the setting, the uneasy relations between the British and the natives of the country are well described, and the majority of the writing is very good, notably the scene in which Gojen first points his gun at another person.

Having said that, I have to temper my praise rather by saying that I found the book somewhat difficult to get into. Gojen was a main character I couldn't particularly warm to, while some of the others – notably Mori, the villainous Japanese officer Gojen is trying to track down – were close to caricatures. One honourable exception to this was the more restrained Japanese soldier who grows ever more frustrated with Mori, who I thought was brought to life really vividly. It also suffered from something of an abrupt ending, at least to my mind.

Overall this is something of a muted recommendation and yet there's enough promise shown in Sarma's writing to make me keen to seek out his next book, particularly given how good his skills at scene-setting are.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further reading suggestion: As mentioned earlier, A Beautiful Lie by Irfan Master deals with India just a few years after this book is set, at the time of Partition, and I found it completely enchanting.

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