The Painted Ocean

by Gabriel Packard

The book tells the story of a young Indian-English girl called Shruti. The most miserable girl in the world, left by her father, given up to foster care by her mother and truly has no one in the world to care for her. Her so called saviour – a horrible Indo-English girl called Meena, is the queen of the class, a spoiled brat that though comes through at times for Shruti, takes her on a bogus adventure in India during college years. That’s as much plot as I can give without ruining it.
I am very ambiguous about this book: on one hand I was reading it to keep seeing how it concludes and to hope for a good ending… on the other, the story line is so implausible that it angers me. The only reason this has earned 3 stars from me is the fact that it brought out emotions out of me and that I was curious to see it through. Otherwise, I would have given it a much lower score and I’ll explain why:
– The narrative is set out to be juvenile, since the story teller is a young girl, but at some point it started getting on my nerve. Grammatically it’s terrible reading sentences that keep starting with “And” and I just about had it at one point.
– The story line is terrible… It first looked like some kind of a cross-over between “the Beach” and “Slumdog Millionaire”, so I was thinking to myself – okay this had been done in the past, but that could be a fun read. Then the other half of the book is takes a turn to the worst. I cannot even place this in a genre, it goes over memoir,. Thriller, general fiction? young adult? (I hope not!) … where do I place this book? I am still struggling with understanding the wrapped up fast ending, and placing it in real-life context – spoiler alert: if anyone can explain to me how to travel from Asia to the UK with a fishermen’s boat, a GPS and no sailing experience – please send me an email.
– Last, the characters are hollow, the only thing with a sort of dimension is Shruti and her cynical take on things (driven from her bad experience in life), which just makes you want to pity the human race. There is not a single complex, elaborated character that is not scheming or basically is a horrible person.
In conclusion, I suffered through this book. It provoked feelings from me of irritation and sadness, and that is the only reason I gave it a relatively average plus score. I was not impressed with the story nor from the writing, I’m genuinely sorry to say.