There’s a Ghost in My PC written by Payal Dhar is the second book of that author that I am reading. I found the other book by Dhar, “Slightly burnt“, promising, so I picked up this book on her recommendation.
The background: Madhu and Kumuda (isn’t Kumuda spelt with an h?) live with their single mother Amritha (their father having passed away in an accident). Living with them are also Meenakshi chikkamma and her 22 year old daughter Kavitha. Amma has a (work-place) friend Simon, whom she occasionally invites home. Meanwhile Meenakshi chikkamma and Kavitha have their own differences.
The Muddle in the middle:
Madhu and Kumuda find Simon “creepy” and don’t like him. They distrust him. What are they to do about him?
Madhu has a secret – a friendly ghost (Viru) lives on her laptop. He was a computer genius when alive. She uses Viru to get information about Simon online. The inquisitive Kumuda investigates Simon on her own by following him. Their “investigations” about Simon land them in trouble. On the other hand Chikkamma’s and Kavitha’s standoff leads to Kavitha leaving home to stay with her friend Nadia. Everyone seems to have problems.
Then Nadia does some “rescuing”. There is a family council and all issues are resolved. On hindsight it turns out that it was just Much ado about nothing, and all’s well that ends well.
Confusing? Why don’t you just read it to clear your confusion – it’s well worth the time and money.
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- Taking this rather simple setting of mundane/day-to-day problems of a family, Dhar is able to give a gripping account of the happenings.
- The characters, each (including Viru) with their distinct personalities, are etched well.
- The geeky Madhu
- The book-loving and pesky investigator Kumuda
- The ghost Viru – technically brilliant, but somewhat unconcerned about gramer and speling.
- Amma – understanding and non-imposing, but firm while setting limits and defining behavior. I was both in love with and jealous of this character – for the person that she is and for the parent that I was not.
- The conservative, little educated Meenakshi chikkamma. Do I see a stereotype? Is this character becoming a cliché?
- In a lot of children’s stories, they do a lot of unbelievable stuff and find themselves in improbable situations. In this book none of the situations are improbable – all of them have a high probability of happening in any child’s life (except for perhaps Viru). Maybe even Viru can be explained as an interactive OS.
- Some Aw moments
- Midnight bonding between “cousins” Kavitha and Madhu.
- Sisterly moments between Madhu and Kumuda – their squabbles, as well as their sharing of secrets.
- The author’s note at the end gives a warning that this book is a fantasy and that unnatural behavior of laptops/PCs should be reported. It gives a list of dos and don’ts for using computers and the Internet.
- An easy and breezy read.
- Though meant for a pre-teen audience, even adults can enjoy this fun-filled book.
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- The narration is from 2 perspectives, viz., Madhu’s and Kumuda’s. While Madhu’s perspective is narrated in first person, Kumuda’s perspective is given in third person
omniscientlimited. The toggling between the 2 perspectives is at times confusing.
. . .
- Their fear regarding Simon turning out to be a damp squib was a bit of a disappointment for me, but in reality that is how things turn out. So reality-wise it isn’t a negative point, I would’ve been thrilled if Simon was a bad guy actually searching for Madhu’s laptop, because Raghu had created (invented) an intelligent OS.
- I learnt that the Vulcan (Mr Spock) greeting was, “Live long and prosper”. Isn’t that somewhat similar to the Tamil greeting, “Vaazhga vaLamudan” (வாழ்க வளமுடன்)?
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Authors put in their perspectives and opinions in their books. A couple of quotes that I liked from the book:
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- I’d rate this as better than Slightly Burnt.
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- Is Amma going to marry Simon? Then Simon better do something “heroic”, if he wants to be looked up to by me.
- What-if Viru is really an advanced interactive, intelligent OS? Any plans like that Ms Dhar? He could be downloaded right? *Excited* Yes! Viru converts himself into an OS by micro metaphysics or by meta microphysics! If he is s/w, then can he be copied and cloned? Questions, questions …
- Is there a possibility of a sequel with Viru?
Amar raho Viru – hope to see you reincarnated.