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Book review: India Shining

While the entire blogger fraternity is going crazy with their resolutions to read more and blog more, it has been almost a month since I have read anything, much longer since I reviewed. Though it is unlike me to not pick a book for such a long time, especially when I have quite a backlog with the review copies, it has been somehow difficult to do just that. One can easily blame it to the fact that I have moved country just now, but the truth is I was on a reading slump. Or still I am. How does one simply get out of a reading slump?

Search inspiration from other readers? Check.
Get your loved ones to motivate (read as flatter) you? Check.
Sweet talk yourself into getting more books? Check.
Take a break? Check and (WARNING) that doesn't work at all.

Well, an almost threatening message from the author / friend might just as well work, at least in my case it did. So thanks AD for that, now on to the review, before I could get another warning message.
Book Name: India Shining, the Novel
Author: Alcatraz Dey
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Disclaimer: Thanks to the author for the free copy of the book. I also had the opportunity to beta read this fast paced thriller.


The story starts with the suicidal note of Shantanu, a lovesick 31 year old and his nostalgic thoughts about the winter morning when he fell in love with Nishi about 17 years ago, who has a fearful profession being a mercenary, who works for an organization against corruption called FUCK (you heard it right!). Meanwhile Nishi is stuck at the prison for 10 years for a murder she didn’t commit and loathing Shantanu for he was the reason for all her troubles latest of which is being taken out on parole (I assume) for seeing her dying husband. They unravel that Nishi's father was a scientist on a top secret a mission before he disappeared and the key to it laid somewhere amidst Nishi, her trident tattoo and her very few memories related to her dad. Throw in to the pile are attempts to save Delhi, a scientist admitted at NIMHANS, depletion of ozone layer and of course corrupt bureaucrats at many levels and you get a blockbuster novel in your hand.

The pace of the story and writing is racy enough to hold the attention of the reader, despite the length of the novel and complex twists in the story. The plot never sags at any point and keeps the grip on the reader until the very last moment. The beginning of the novel intrigued, especially the Kolkatta stadium débâcle and Shantanu trying to kill himself too soon into the story. The novel as such is event based and all the characters are as equally treated as the main protagonists. In fact I ended up falling in love with a non protagonist, John. For example, John's support to different players at different times was much more likeable because his plight and decisions were understandable even though there were not too many explicit dialogues about them. That is what is missing with the protagonists.

The story alternates between several time-lines and causes confusion at many places, especially at the beginning. A mention of the time period at the beginning of the chapters might have helped. There are too many characters and too many story lines that ran parallel but without a time-line it is difficult to be sure if they were indeed running parallel. There are places where the novel might seem to be single dimensional in terms of character building. There are a few emotions and traits of the characters being repeated too often (she was strong, she was the rock of Gibraltar, Shantanu is staring at Nishi's eyes) but their other attributes are ignored (relevant ones). It is quite hard to believe that the guy who kills for a profession could or would kill himself for a girl whose existence he is not sure about. His reason to die is not very strong, for lack of show of his remorse towards his profession or despair on losing his girl or mixture of both. He is portrayed to be a veteran at his job but he behaves like a headless chicken when William is killed.

Despite there being so many characters, and a twist at every chapter end (sometimes, too many for my taste) to lead on the reader, the fact that the whole story stayed put together in one piece speaks loud about the clarity of the theme in the author's mind. He knows to keep the suspense till the end, despite a very filmy finish and epilogue, which might work for the target audience. There are very few loopholes in the story, and those maybe only due to the aforementioned time line confusion. It is not an easy read but surely will reach the targeted YA and movie lovers alike.

Bottom-line: You must catch it if you are into racy Indian thrillers.

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