Young Raj, a tour leader with the reputation of healing troubled souls, meets his tour group in Agra. There is Ira, a beautiful young woman, suffering from a broken heart and a total lack of self-worth. Darci and Lennard are a couple married in name only. They are on the brink of divorce. Carl, the archetypal capitalist, has ignored his wives and his children in his dedication to business. Asha is an Indian widow wondering what to do with the rest of her life.
The group meets in Agra, city of romance, and begins to change. It is when a terrible accident occurs that each character begins to realize what is most important in their lives.
Theme of the Book
Voyagers into the Unknown is not only about travel to a foreign country and culture, but about exploring the unknown possibilities of life itself. Through their interactions with fellow tourists and with Raj, each character faces their past difficulties and their future possibilities.
What I Liked About the Story
Based on the premise that travel, sympathetic companions, and honest self-reflection can bring about profound changes in the human spirit, Voyagers into the Unknown begins with great promise.
Each of the characters has a personal, emotional problem to solve in order to make their futures better. The reader is given a background to each character which enables him or her to understand the character’s weakness. All of the problems center on love so the choice of Agra, the site of the Taj Mahal, is central the story. The symbol of enduring love, the Taj Mahal becomes the site of much of the action in the novel. Each of the voyagers comes to reflect on the love they are missing in their lives.
With the gentle assistance of tour leader Raj, the characters are led on a voyage of emotional discovery. Whether or not the changes that result are believable is not the question. The important fact is that the changes are possible.
Ms. Khanna has written wonderful descriptions of the Taj Mahal, especially of the area in the moonlight, and evokes the sense of mystery and exoticism of India.
What I Didn’t Like About the Story
While the novel has great potential, this potential is often lost in long expository paragraphs describing the emotional states of the characters. It would have been so much better to have the characters speak and act for themselves. Although we get good introductions to each character, their voices are drowned out by the voice of the author. Not one of the characters becomes an individual. They all remain rather like robots or simply outlets for the author’s opinions.
Character’s dialogue is nearly interchangeable. There is no individuality to their speech though they come from very different backgrounds. I would really have liked more character development and less of the author’s voice.
The language in the book seems stilted. None of the characters use contractions, always saying “I am ready.” when the more natural “I’m ready” would be preferable. This stilted language continues throughout the novel in each and every scene.
This novel would benefit greatly from a good editor. The language issues are minor but the long paragraphs of narration should have been reworked to make the characters come alive.
On the whole, this is an engaging novel with an interesting premise. More realistic characters, more character action and dialogue, and the services of a good editor would make Voyagers into the Unknown a much better book.