If your girl, with eyes like flames, likes to climb trees and make you read minds, then that’s not your girl. That’s a scene from Red Eyes by Varsha Seshan.
Right. That joke is guaranteed to make you cry till your own eyes turn red, but the book is one that has it all.
It’s got emotion, it’s got suspense, it’s got thrill, it’s got a forest and it’s got a boy who has run away from boarding school.
It’s time for some serious Red Eye.
‘Red Eye’ by Varsha Seshan begins with Veer Prann, the story’s protagonist, running away from his posh boarding school and landing up at his new home in the forest of Suryanagar.
Being a city boy, Veer isn’t thrilled at the idea of living in the forest at first, but eight months at boarding school change his mind. Veer is a kid that does not like school and this makes me automatically like Veer because cool kids hate school.
Veer’s arrival in Suryanagar introduce the reader to an interesting host of characters. There’s Tanish Kumar, the rather obnoxious businessman-like scientist, Veer’s own parents and the ABCD forest guides.
The ABCD refers to the initials of the four forest guides and that was a nice touch.
Forest life is nothing that Veer is used to and his new style of living brings with it new emotions. The story takes a melancholic turn with the news of a tiger being killed.
The guides, shaken at the murderous death of their forest’s pride, assemble at Veer’s home and occupy his father’s time, giving him a breather to explore the area surrounding the forest.
And then, as he stands in his backyard, he sees the Red Eyes, staring at him from a tree.
The story then turns into a full blown adventure. Tigers go missing and Veer’s encounter with the red-eyed girl, whom he names Medha, turn into telepathic conversations, taking him into the depths of the jungle, making him witness tigers in the wild and uncovering a conspiracy that threatens his new friend.
I absolutely love how the book deals with the theme of wildness. Right from a glimpse into man-eating tigers, to a standoff between a porcupine and tiger cubs and finally to the wildest animal of all, the humans. The book explores power and greed at the expense of nature and its harmony and man’s dangerous obsession of encroaching upon the forbidden, all in the name of science and money. The cruelty of man is well brought out in this book, not only by conspiracy and thirst for power but also by the instances of bullying in Veer’s school.
I also love the stark contrast between Veer’s innocence and the crookedness of the adults around him, all involved in a game of power.
The setting of the story really enhances the plot and the mysteries of the jungle fuse nicely with the shifty characters and near diabolical motives, making this book a great mystery.
My favourite characters in the book was Veer. I love how he always follows his heart and his emotions are so real and well brought out. He is a very relatable character, given his situation in school as well as his curiosity about the forest. I also like how he simply wants to help Medha without getting anything in return and he has this really smart quality of not trusting people too easily and speaking his mind, an ability that a lot of us disastrously lack.
The red-eyed girl, Medha, is adorable. She brings up all my emotions and I just want to give her a hug.
The other characters are very well fleshed out. I like the complexity of each character right from the tour guides to the scientists and government officials. I also like how the locals treat the forest as something to be proud of and know more about wildlife owing to their experiences.
The other aspect of the book that I really like is the contrast between classy scientists and locals. The scientists always have this annoying tendency of calling every local custom a superstition and this book does well in highlighting the subtle classism and ignorance that city folk tend to have.
‘Red Eyes’ is an absolute treat with fantasy, mystery and morality, all fused in one.
This book is a finalist at the Scholastic Asia Book Awards which is really cool.
All in all, I loved this book. I could not put it down and I would definitely recommend it to everyone.
And that is a wrap.
Until Next time,