I’ve just put my bookmark away and shut Uncontrollable by Varsha Seshan, a middle grade fantasy fiction book in verse and I must say that I was sucked into the vortex of a fantastical, mysterious world she has created.
It took me a little while to get into the story, given the range of characters, the parallel worlds, people with a range of ‘powers’...the Uncontrollables, people who want to extract those powers….the Chameleons and Doctors, children discarded as shells of themselves, a magic show performing Fairy Queen, secrets, lies, time-travel, vortices and more. But, I stayed with the book and given that it is written in free verse, it is a quick read and the storyline ever so engrossing.
I loved that the names of the characters and places were easily identifiable as Indian names and this threw me a bit, initially. We are so accustomed to fantasy and sci-fi being ‘western’, yet, after a while it grew on me and I loved that it rattled my literary genre associations.
I picked up social themes subtly embedded in the storyline, which spoke quite powerfully to me and seemingly familiar. People who are different from the majority being picked on and segregated, (people with powers…the ability to see clearer, see through, the ones whose memories do not forget (the ills of the past)), the manipulation of public thought through carefully crafted ‘myths’, the nepotism, to name a few. But through it all, hope underlines the story through friendship, loyalty, the ability to hold on to core values, people who go above and beyond and the need for even the most vulnerable to risk themselves in their belief that good will triumph over evil.
I have a strong affinity for novels in verse and I find that their succinct and lyrical nature and choice of language renders a visual element that makes them beautifully evocative.
Varsha’s use of verse, renders this story into a pacy, gripping read, however I felt there needed to be more rhythm (not rhyme), a certain stanzaic format and more figurative language which would lend a poetic feel to a moving storyline.
All in all a wonderful effort at a novel in verse and a gripping read.
(I received a copy of this book from the publisher. As with all books I receive, I may or may not write about them. But if I do, I will share an honest, unbiased review.)