A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Not every book has a happy ending: A Burning by Megha Majumdar is one of those books. Going into Majumdar’s debut with your eyes wide open will allow you to fully appreciate the beautiful story she has weaved. A Burning is the story of three people who desperately want more: power, opportunity, class, love. It’s a novel of fate, the juxtaposition of betrayal and love, of innocence and guilt, and how the truth may be twisted by the media into a falsehood that others believe to be true.

Terrorists have attacked Jivan’s hometown. This attack on a train has left 104 people dead and the nation is clamoring for someone to be held responsible. Jivan is a bright young woman, trying to get out of poverty and the slums. After making a careless comment on Facebook, Jivan is wrongly accused of planning the attack and is hauled into the police station.

PT Sir is a gym teacher from Jivan’s former school. He used to care highly for Jivan until she disappeared from school one day and never came back. He can’t understand why she could be so ungrateful and why she never thanked him for all he did for her. One day, PT Sir discovers a rally in a field for the right-wing political party. He becomes enraptured with what they have to say. He decides that the only way to improve his circumstances is to become a part of that party’s power. PT Sir soon finds that the price of his ascent is Jivan taking the fall.

Lovely is an outcast. She has dealt with hatred and disgust from the public her entire life, but that hasn’t stopped her from dreaming big. She wants fame, she wants glory, but most of all she wants to be the leading lady in a movie. Society isn’t quite so sure that she is what they want. Lovely also holds Jivan’s alibi and freedom in her hands. By speaking up and setting Jivan free, Lovely will have to say goodbye to everything that she desires and holds close.

The fates of these three people are so closely woven together that their slightest action ripples consequences to the others. It’s a short read, but its shortness packs a lot of complexness.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti

homelanddirectiveI wouldn’t call myself a paranoid person.  I do sometimes run to get into bed and pull up the covers as quickly as possible after watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon.  After reading George Orwell’s 1984, I did start regarding every tv or computer screen with a small fear that it was a potential 2-way telescreen.  Despite this, I am typically a level-headed librarian that loves to drop the phrase “peer-reviewed research” into regular conversations

But Robert Venditti’s The Homeland Directive brought out the conspiracy theorist in me.  When I finished reading the graphic novel, I wasn’t convinced that the federal government was spreading an infectious disease in hopes of scaring the population into submission and setting up the head of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for the murder of her research partner.  But when I was in the middle of the novel, it didn’t seem entirely far fetched.  Venditti was able to take me out of my own perception of the world while I read this graphic novel, and left me thinking far after I finished reading.

Pairing with brilliant illustrator, Mike Huddleston, Venditti wrote a piece that feels outrageous and real at the same time.  The illustrations are complicated and portray mood more than action, and the style changes with the setting and cast of characters.  All together, this is a stylistic, powerful graphic novel with a well edited story and smart pacing.  Everything that needs to be in the story is there, with no extras.  I would recommend this book for fans of Brian K. Vaughan’s Y: The Last Man series or Mat Johnson’s Right State.