Love in a Wooden Box is a romantic suspense thriller carved out of Author's creative imagination and inspired by some of his experiences during his college days at Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad (ISM-Dhanbad). Through this debut novel, the author has made a splendid entrance in the field of a difficult literary world and has been able to put many contemporary issues on a small canvas. The hallmark is the use of simple and lucid language with conversational overtones that makes it very easy for even a school student to understand the flow of the story and context. The story is webbed in a brilliant logical way that culminates in its logical justification.
The story begins when Gautam, the protagonist, seeks admission to ISM and thereafter the author describes the series of events from ragging to college festivals to elections to sports and cultural events. It explains the mental state of engineering students during the period where the telecom revolution had not hit India. The author has been able to bring every scene to live through his outstanding conversational and micro-description of places. It feels as though the reader is present at the scene while he/she is reading it.
The middle part of the story is even more interesting as romance is in the air and this part takes us to the tender romance that all of us have witnessed at some point in our lives. The flow of the story is so engrossing that one does want to keep the book down. The description of characters compels the reader to associate himself/herself with either one of them.
The description of events, things and environment in the novel is one of the strongest areas. The novel is full of colourful pictures made from words, which makes it very interesting and romantic one. Whether it is the environment at ISM, Saturnalia - the cultural festival, sports events, examination hall, mess, tea stall, different blocks of hostel, railway station of Dhanbad, VSNL campus of Calcutta, the event of terrorist attack in ISM campus, events of election in the college, tender romance of youths or romantic scenes of Gautam-Meenakshi love episodes, these all are looking very alive and as if happening before the reader’s eyes.
But the most spectacular part is when towards the end the author is able to unfold the mastermind in a very simple yet sensitive way. The suspense is so thrilling and strong that the last Letter of the book is sure to leave the readers in tears! It’s a very emotional account of a practical situation where the web of love, academics, career and competition is beautifully woven to raise important questions in our minds.
Another hallmark of the book is that a number of contemporary issues have been presented very artistically in the novel such as creation of small states, ragging and senior-junior relationship in colleges, politics in college elections, new dimensions of technology and economic development, cybercrimes, nationalism, spiritual and religious beliefs, issue of regional and racial feelings, social injustice, naxalism, terrorism and the power of love. Nowhere does it appear to be the work of a debutant author.
However, one of the weakest areas of the novel is character building. Apart from Gautam and Meenakshi, other characters have not been given much space or time and there are abrupt and knee-jerk reactions to some situations. Moreover, there are places in the story where you can easily skip the events and yet not lose track showing areas where possibility of losing interest were there. Here is where the lack of experience as an author shows up slightly and I wished that author had devoted more time to this aspect of his book, despite being a voluminous one (289 pages) as compared to today's standards. There could be readers who could also think that Gautam is being represented as some sort of superhero as well.
All in all, a brilliant novel that is a must read for youngsters as well as people of all ages. The powerful messages that the book conveys is a big inspiration to this. The book is dedicated to author's alma mater, ISM-Dhanbad as well as to his home state of Bihar!