Penny Book Review: Haroun and the Sea of Stories

The best part about this photo is that delicious cup of liquid happiness at the bottom. The ceramic elephant is pretty great too.
The best part about this photo is that delicious cup of liquid happiness at the bottom. The ceramic elephant is pretty great too.

Haroun, Haroun. What can I say about you?

Let’s make some cha* first, shall we? It’s the most fitting thing to go with this book.

Masala Chai
Adapted from Curry Easy

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • pinch ginger
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch cardamom
  • 1/2 pinch clove
  • 8 cranks pepper
  • Caster sugar, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons CTC (or two bags strong, dark tea)

Directions:

  • In a small saucepan, add water and all spices bring to a boil. Let the spices simmer in the water for “awhile.” (You should see these notes I took.)
  • Also add the sugar. You want it to be pretty sweet, but if you shy away from sugary stuff, it’s up to you.
  • Add milk to the saucepan and bring it to a boil again. As it’s about to boil, throw in the tea.
  • Lower the heat and let the milk/water mixture froth up nearly to the top of the saucepan. Then take it off the burner and let it return to normal. Repeat this three times.
  • Strain tea into two cups, and enjoy with biscuits.

Look, I love Salman Rushdie. I thoroughly enjoyed Midnight’s Children and The Satanic Verses. I’m sure if I ever get around to reading any more of his adult books, I’ll love them just as well.

What I wasn’t sold on? Luka and the Fire of Life, which is the kinda-sorta followup to Haroun. I read it when it was first published, back when I lived in India. And I thought maybe…oh, I don’t know what I thought. That maybe it was just a one-time dud. But now, after reading Haroun, I think the answer is, I just really don’t enjoy Salman Rushdie’s kid’s books all that much.

The brief plot of Haroun and the Sea of Stories: Haroun’s father is a storyteller, his mother leaves him, Daddy can’t tell stories anymore, there’s some pipeline of stories being uninstalled, adventures to Kahaani ensue.

So what is it that I just didn’t enjoy? I don’t know. It’s tough to put a finger on it. But if I had to start somewhere, I’d say that the most obvious thing that bugs me is just how precious the stupid book is. The Shah of Blah? The Ocean of Notions? Meh.

And then there’s the storyline. I just didn’t engage me. There’s like, the dark side taking over and poisoning the Ocean of Notions, and they have to go on a quest, but, well, maybe it’s that Haroun really doesn’t have any agency. I guess he does sort of save the day in the end, but even that I barely remember.

I realize that I’m coming across as very negative in a lot of these Drop Caps book reviews. Maybe I should keep it off the ‘net, I dunno. As a sort of reassurance that I don’t hate everything I read, I will tell you that the next Drop Caps review in the queue is going to be entirely positive. (“What is it?” Mum’s the word, but I can tell you, think of a famous author with a last name starting with “S.” Got it? Okay, stay tuned for Monday’s post.) And I love a whole lot of the YA books that I read, though I started a new one today and it’s just depressing. (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass. Note: depressing =/= bad. Just difficult to read.)

*Not a typo. In the Bengali-speaking region I lived in, that’s the word for tea. Also, please, for the love of Ganesh, never say chai tea. Or naan bread, for that matter. It’s called a tautology, look it up.

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