Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Baaz by Anuja Chauhan - Book Review

I think I was always going to like this book. After all, I loved Anuja Chauhan's first book (The Zoya Factor) - it is one of the few books I've read twice. Her books are well-written stories for people wanting an escapist romance, a page-turner for a few hours. Baaz follows almost the same formula, though its setting and ending make it a leeettil bit different.

Baaz is the story of Ishaan 'Baaz' Fauzdaar, a boy from a small village in Haryana, who joins the Air Force and becomes a famous pilot during the 1971 war. It's also the story of Tehmina 'Tinka' Daddyseth - a photographer and a pacifist. The two meet and fall pretty much instantly in love - but how does their love story work out against the backdrop of a war?

For me, the Ishaan-Tehmina story was less important than the background against which it all plays out. We get a sneak peek into the lives of Air Force personnel and the planes they fly. Since the story is set against the 1971 war, we see a lot of the action live (though from the aerial perspective, of course :D). The book's cover says it's Anuja Chauhan's 'homage' to India's armed forces, and that definitely shows.

Despite a rather somber setting, Anuja Chauhan's wit and voice sparkle throughout the book. (The fact that the book is written in present tense is a bit jarring though.) Her writing is so vivid that you feel like she's drawing a picture with words right in front of you - I particularly enjoyed the descriptions of the aerial battles.

How do I compare The Zoya Factor with this one? TZF, I felt was funnier, and had the most outrageously awesome plot (a woman who can ensure a cricket team's victory just by having breakfast with them? I mean, wow.). But it could have been about a third shorter than it was.

Baaz, on the other hand, is less funny, but more tightly written. The action pretty much never falters. Those who don't like the lovey dovey stuff can wait for the fighting. (Though I do know somebody who stopped reading the book because she didn't like all the descriptions of planes and fighting.)

Overall, a bitter-sweet read, but lovely nonetheless.
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