By Muhammad Nadeem
A few weeks ago, many local newspapers carried the news of a book, “ Wizards X Beasts” and its young author, Rubayata Umeed. They praised the author for achieving a great feat by writing a novel at a young age. It, indeed, is praiseworthy that a young girl decided to write a novel during times when most of us don’t have time from our smartphones.
Wizards X Beasts is a written by 14-year-old Rubayata Umeed from Kunzar. This 98 page Sci-fi is her debut novella.
In the Universe Debris, the Queen Amnesty has gone rogue after a witch took her beauty away with her spells. To get her beauty back, she must sacrifice the most beautiful women in the Universe who happen to be living on Earth. That’s not it. Universe Debris is in chaos because Queen’s ancestors were greedy and in order to spread the kingdom, they attacked the land of Beasts.
It is said that an author needs to show not tell. The story is in chaos. There is no plot. The characters are flat. Whenever the reader gets confused the author, who herself narrates the story, come to the rescue. For example, on page 7, she introduces us to one of the main characters, Dakutaiga Onishi along the following lines:
“Now let me introduce him, he was Dakutaga Onishi, son of I don’t know or just “IDK’. Seriously I really don’t his dad’s name, I mean, I was the writer, of course, I must have taken all the info, but you know DNA disputes. Onishi is an imagination; I can’t take his blood for a checkup.”
One can easily guess from the beginning, who Onishi is and who his father is because it is disclosed in the very beginning of the book that he has a birthmark of a king. Onishi can mutate himself into a tiger, still gets beaten by three rowdy boys, kills a boy in a bus because he behaves rude, gets shot saving Aiko from a Monkey, and receives serious sword injuries by protecting the Queen from Alpha Suzuki. (This our protagonist!!)
The names of the characters are Japanese. They are confusing and similar to each other and also too many for a novella. In this less than 100 page story we get Rouse de Antonio, Kanne de Antonio, Queen Amnesty, Taigo Sugimoto, Commander, Aikimi, Ichigo, Aiko and her father, Kirara Kiomoto, Onishi, Agle, Atsuko, Asuku Tanaka, Cathaerine, MJ Matsumoto, MG Matsumoto, MK Matsumoto, Alpha Suzuki, and others.
There are no dots to connect within the story. It doesn’t lead anywhere. And, nothing keeps you reading except the hope that it will get better (which it doesn’t).
Sometimes the author leaves the story hanging and talks about herself, that is, what she personally thinks about the story, and speaks directly to the reader.
“I don’t get too many surprises or no surprise on my birthday, except for one that is, my birthday cake. It’s sometimes small and sometimes big. I’m curious about my next birthday cake, will it be small or big! Ha-ha.” (Page 07)
“Now I am damn sure it is a supernatural world. I mean it was. There is no possibility of being sure, it is my written story.” (Page 31)
“Don’t make me say the meaning of Department. Check it out yourself.” (Page 06)
“(Kill the boys! Just kidding). This is my opinion.” (Page 12)
But, the following one is epic:
“Her Beast team other than Asuko and Atsuko consisted of few more members, which you must not have expected – and if you did that’s brilliant. For your surprise, Kirara worked for Queen. Blockbuster surprises are kept reserved for you.” ( Page 67)
It is , as if, author sometimes feels lazy to complete the dialogue.
“No need to say anything, they hugged, Atsuko said “Hi” and blah blah blah.” (Page 28)
“They took the men, I don’t know, somewhere.” (Page 34)
“He made some friends, did some party and blah blah.” (Page 36)
One noteworthy and egregious feature of the books is that seems not to be well edited. Scant attention has been given to grammar. There are plenty of mistakes and typos;
“You’re house is beautiful. I like it” (Page 61)
“Oh! Is it You Kirara, “said Aiko. (Page 08)
And , toward the end, a lot of things remain unanswered. For example: what happens to Aiko? Does the Queen eventually kill her to restore her beauty? What was the story behind her locket? Where from it got the power? What actually happens to Alpha, and his Monkeys?
There is a lot missing in terms of connecting the dots. There are other mistakes and amateur stuff going on in the book. There are no surprises that might make a reader go “wow”. The author herself confesses within the story, “Usually thinking about fantasy is a bit difficult, you need ideas”, she writes on page 76. I can’t point out everything. There is one thing or the other wrong on each page.
All this is not her fault. It was self-published at Notion Press. Most of these publishers care nothing about how publishing amateur stuff can affect the career of a writer.
In the past two years, more than twenty books were self-published by Kashmiri authors and poets. We are not ready to wait six to eight months that a traditional publisher takes to just look at the manuscript. We don’t want to get a literary agent or get our work edited by professionals. Having said this, self-publishing is not entirely a bad idea. Some authors do make name and fame through it. The fact to really consider is that Kashmir hasn’t yet produced much literate in the English language. We don’t have any more than 10 novels written in English published by reputed traditional publishers. This is our history of literature in English in the making. We haven’t contributed much to the world literature. If we will continue to produce amateur literature just because we have the money for self-publishing, I don’t know what posterity will read in our novels and poetry.
Wouldn’t it be a needed contribution , if our already well-established authors like Mirza Waheed, Shahnaz Bashir, Basharat Peer or Shafi Shoq, write an article or make a YouTube video advising Kashmiri aspiring authors about how to go for publishing? Or is it too much to ask?
I believe, if given time, rigorous professional editing, and hard work Wizards X Beasts would have become a worthy piece of Nonsense Literature or Science Fiction. I learned that Rubayata is writing her second book already which will be published in a few months. The author is just 14 and has a lot of time to learn. Wizards X Beasts might have been the first science fiction novella from Kashmir , but unfortunately it is not a good one. I hope and pray that her next book will be better and I wish the author best of luck.
The author can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org