"In Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhars Shibu Kochery has crafted a colourful tapestry of characters who have been brought together at a dam construction site in a remote location set in India. Each has a story to tell and each has been brought to the dam site by chance or fate. The author has etched each of these characters in convincing detail and, notwithstanding his disclaimer that this is a work of fiction, there is a ring of authenticity to the characters. This is in no small measure due to the local flavour he has given to them by skillfully using words from their native language(s) to emphasize dramatic moments and by situating them in several well known episodes of recent Indian historiography. It is this convincing narration that keeps the reader hooked to book and whets the anticipation to see where the story is leading. The characters are brought together at the dam site in the Dhauladhars through a series of unexpected twists and turns in their lives and the final denouement is startling, if a little sudden. For a first venture the author has been successful in creating a most readable book."
"I have to admit I had a lot of trouble getting through the first couple of chapters, for various reasons. The main reason was that there seemed to be a lot of characters appearing, without having any previous introduction or description. At times it felt like the author expected us to know and understand what was happening without creating a big setting for us to fully integrate the characters in our minds. Another reason I had trouble was the language... this reason is obviously more personal. I'm not really familiar with the some of the foreign terms that were included and when they weren't really described I had to look for definitions elsewhere in order to comprehend what was being done...or what the characters were referring to. The writing itself seemed to be going through and initial crisis, which made me think that maybe Shibu wasn't certain what style of writing he wanted to partake in this narrative. Luckily this was only in the first couple of chapters, the writing becomes a lot more pleasant afterwards. I must admit I had trouble connecting to the characters because I like having a greater psychological perspective on them, and I felt this somewhat lacking in the story. Despite of this, I did feel the characters should be commended by all their efforts and suffering throughout the book. Their resilience was quite inspiring, considering all of the circumstances. On the other hand the writing was very descriptive and one could easily imagine certain surroundings that were mentioned throughout the book. I was really happy when things started to click near the middle and end of the book. On a very personal note, I think Shibu did a very good job, considering this was his first book published. Even though there is a lot of room for improvement, there is also a lot of potential and I really want to see how his writing develops in his future novels. I think that if he can get to the style portrayed in the middle of the book in the first couple of chapters his writing would improve incredibly."
"I received a copy of this book for review from the author in exchange for an honest review. Men and Dreams in the Dhauladhar is the first book written by Kochery C. Shibu. The novel showcases the extensive knowledge the author has about the life and people in the Dhauladhar region and of hydroelectric projects, which, I believe was the domain he worked in. Finishing a novel is a feat in itself and the author’s efforts are commendable. The book starts with Nanda, who according to the description on Goodreads, is the protagonist. He is running from the law and his past is revealed in a back-story. For the rest of the book, he meets new people and looks at the snow-capped peaks of the Dhauladhar ranges. All the new people he meets have stories which are told as back-stories. Back-stories are a good way of introducing a new character. It shows us what makes them tick and what their motivations are. I enjoyed reading some of the back-stories in this book. But then, after a while, I began to feel there were too many characters in the book and each one’s past was revealed with the story starting from three generations before they were born. While this tells of the author’s attention to detail, it became really tedious to keep a track of who is who. With so many characters, it becomes difficult to decide whom you need to sympathise with. Ultimately, you end up caring about none of them. Another grouse I have, is the seemingly lack of a plot. So many characters are introduced and each one is shown to be headed for the project in the Dhauladhar ranges. It made me think of clouds that gather before a storm and then whip the landscape with lashing rains. I expected something similar to happen with the story, only to be disappointed. I grant that the author might have meant the Dhauladhar to be a meeting point for characters with incredible pasts and indomitable spirits. Now, the characters. Honestly, there are so many that I don’t even remember all of them. I couldn’t connect with any of them and I didn’t understand why some of them behaved the way they did. The arc with Khusru and Rekha, for example, was ridiculous. Writing wise, while the book started off well, as the pages went by, the quality of grammar declined. Often, I found myself correcting sentences as I read. Also, random words are italicised. Especially, the names. It was very annoying because it kept interrupting my flow. What this book needs the most is a good, professional editor. To sum up, a good effort by the author, which could have been much better. I’d like to thank him for giving me the opportunity to read something that I ordinarily wouldn’t have."