Sunday, October 26, 2014

God is a Gamer - Blogadda Book Review

Ravi Subramanian’s recent book ‘God is a Gamer’ is what I would call a mediocre novel. The cover page, for a change and perhaps is the only thing that, makes sense and is in sync with the sadly conceptualised plot. However, the title, is just not in the vicinity of what the story is all about. It was, for me, as ill-suited a title as was John Carter for the movie.

The plot revolves around the sensational digital currency called ‘bitcoins’, intertwining the lives of some key people across two continents (North America and India). It starts with the mysterious assassination of a US Senator, Gillian Tan. The next set of events involve an ATM heist in New York which drained out the funds from the Mumbai branch of New York International Bank (NYIB). Hence, starts the journey of two parallel stories, one the investigation of the murder of Gillian Tan and the ATM heist, and the other – the death of the NYIB CEO (India), Malvika Sehgal in Mumbai. While the stories are different, they are bound by the common thread of ‘bitcoins’ and come together in the conclusive end with a twist, which renders the original antagonist scot-free.

While the backdrop for this novel is a tad interesting, everything else is just a dismal show. There are no highlights, no gripping plot lines, and no engrossing factor whatsoever. The plot is stirringly weak, the dialogues between the characters of the novel are ridiculous and unnatural, the reactions of the characters are bizarre and immature, and one fails to connect with them. It feels like the whole book was written on the basis of a good concept but within the confines of a structurally weak silhouette and hence the end result is a ‘collapse’. The original antagonist was strongly predictable ever since the character was given some limelight – and that is the worst thing to happen – when the surprise factor fuses right in the beginning in a thriller novel. Some of the other facts where the book failed was in its weak portrayal of the American culture and people. Since the book juggles between US and Mumbai, one would expect that the American scenario (including the dialogues and certain facts like kg be called as pounds, that there are no $200 bill denominations in US as far as I know, etc) be presented in its authentic manner, but it just ends up feeling very Indianised and that just ruptures the belief factor of the novel. The game names used in the book, Mafia Dons and Townsville, appeared really sad. It could be that the author wanted to draw a quick recognition and relation with the original Facebook games, Mafia Wars and Farmville, but I feel he missed the mark. Ravi should’ve given some more thought to the alternate version names. The only marginally saving grace is the decent language and a seemingly bland twist in the end where someone else (partly deserving) was framed and convicted for all the so-called high action episodes and the actual perpetrator is roaming freely.

As much as I was impressed by ‘The Bankster’, ‘God is a Gamer’ has disappointed me even more. It’s important for a spark to be converted skilfully into a great plot and be married with equally matching portrayal. This book was certainly not a striking example of the same.

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