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Title: God Is A Gamer
Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Genre: Mystery/ Thriller
Price: Rs. 299
What happens when you cross a gamer, a banker, a politician and a terrorist with virtual money?
I had never read any book by this author before. I was told that he is good. The gist of the book and the intriguing cover piqued my interest. But having read some horrendous Indian author books in the recent times, I was really skeptical about this one. But somehow the interest remained on this one and I applied for the review. This book introduced me to bitcoins or virtual money. I was not aware of this concept of currency until I read this book. Either this is a new concept or either I was too dumb. Anyway, I have to thank this book for this new found knowledge of mine. This novel is said to be the first ever bitcoin thriller and I couldn't wait to read it. Having grown up reading Enid Blyton and Agatha Christie, mystery always excites me. And I was waiting to plunge myself in the book and finish it as soon as possible.
Gillian Tan, the senator of the United States Of America is murdered and FBI agents Adrian Scott and Tony are investigating this case. Malvika Sehgal, the chairman of New York International Bank (NYIB), plunges to her death one fine day. Media believes this to be a suicide but her daughter Tanya thinks otherwise. And Malvika's affair with a high profile minister only adds fuel to the fire. Aditya, the head of a gaming company is battling his own beliefs as his prodigal son, Varun, is set to change all the rules of the company. Josh, the terrorist who is responsible for a series of ATM heists that rocks the whole of NYIB and the USA. All these plots move around in a fast pace making this an interesting read. The element of mystery is high and it sure evokes a thrill in the reader. There are other subplots too as part of this story. An illegitimate daughter, a drugs trail, a hooker, phishing attacks and a BPO company. This was too much to take at times, but the mystery still remained and so does the interest in the book.
The story is fast paced and moves back and forth from Mumbai to the USA. The characters are strongly etched (except Tanya) and each one holds on its own. The entire story revolves around a web of love, sex, drugs, power, deceit and revenge. Although the revenge part is not clear until the climax. The execution of the scenes is brilliant and the language used is perfect. No typos and no out of place words. The English used is layman and it can be read without a handy dictionary. Politics is already an interesting genre, add to it the thrill of murder and conspiracy and you have a winner in hand. Bitcoins form the crux of the story and it stealthily shows the greed of the rich and famous. The author has used real names of companies here like Visa, Mastercard and Facebook. Indiscape, the gaming company also sounds real and hooks the reader by talking about real addictive games like Farmville, Townsville and Mafia Dons. The author however chooses to show the Indian police force in poor light, with a lame and rusty ACP Shome assisting the two FBI agents in their investigation. The story definitely has the potential to be a good one, but it falls short towards the end.
I guessed the climax half way through the book, but I read on to know how it unfolds. At one point the story gets so overloaded with talks of politics, money, terrorism and bitcoins that there was chaos in my mind for a good few hours. Individually, each topic is brilliant. But when put together it becomes too much to take. If the story only revolved around bitcoins, this one sure would have been a winner. An assassination is understandable but the murder of an innocent victim somehow did not make sense to me. That angle was not required at all especially when the idea was to convict a person who had committed various other crimes too. The actual brain behind the plan is kept hidden until the end of the story. The story actually completes only after the epilogue, which I quite didn't understand why. The book at 310 pages is not that long, but the 98 chapters were not required. Most of the chapters end in a page or two. And each chapter shifts from one parallel story to another. Racy, yes. Easy for the reader, no.
The story could have been more compact and solid if it was condensed to around 20 chapters with great detailing in them. The sexual abuse angle which is revealed in the climax, makes sense but there is no build up around it. It suddenly is revealed and it almost immediately forms the actual motive of the entire book. Tanya on whose shoulders the book rests, is the weakest character. Nothing about her is detailed and she seems very lost and out of place throughout the story. Even when minute details of her life are ripped apart by the FBI, her reaction seems to be denial and confusion. This is not what a heroine is supposed to be like. The story then ends on a false note. Why false you ask? The cops arrest someone who is set up by the actual culprit. When the cops realize their folly, they do nothing about it thinking that if they reopen the case they might be thought of as idiots. The actual culprit gets the revenge and the happily ever after. Funnily for a thriller, the actual cause of the entire revenge and the soul of the book remains love.
Verdict: Chaotic. But worth a read. The mystery is gripping and hooks you to the book.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.
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