Sep 7, 2014

60 Minutes [Book Review]

(A review for the Blogadda Book Reviews program)

At times while watching a (not-so-good) movie, we continue watching it, sometimes till the very end, to see if the plot gets better. 60 Minutes is one such book.

There are movies with plots that begin slowly, but pick up momentum and then leave a lasting impression on you. There are few other plots which start with a bang and end with the same bang maintaining the thrill throughout. While the book 60 Minutes is advertised as ‘A One-of-a-kind Corporate Drama Where All Action Will Unfold In Sixty Racing Minutes,’ the book fails to fall under either type of the movies/plots mentioned above.

A time-bound premise with a non-linear narrative traversing back into flashbacks every five minutes had such promise. When I first looked at the contents, I was both excited and skeptical at the same time. The former because I am huge fan of the TV series '24' and perhaps this was going to be a racy ride. The latter because I was not too sure how a non-linear narrative would fit into a premise that was time critical. My fears, unfortunately, came true.

Firstly, to focus the positives, I was quite impressed with the simplicity in the style of writing. It sure did not use bombastic words and it is very well evident that the author wanted to use a limited vocabulary. This is a plus because words could have distracted and I was in no mood to keep a dictionary by my side while I read this book. Next, the characters had enough depth, at times more detailed than necessary. There was sufficient background to each of the characters and this helped the characters appear slightly more human, especially with their gray shades. The characters Maithili and Sailesh, especially the latter, definitely seem to invoke some sympathy from the reader and come across as real ones.

While focusing on what could have been better in the book, the first thing that comes to mind is the business lingo especially with respect to the stock markets. While the premise of the character Agastya (the main protagonist) being hooked to stock markets is understandable, it got way too distracting and definitely got in the way of the ‘thriller’ that this could have been. Secondly, there were way too many characters, all not of importance, and the author could have easily done away with 4 to 6 of them. The background for those characters in the flashbacks did not prove to be beneficial either.

My main peeve with the book is the non-linear style of narration. While a well-crafted movie running in real time can do with those short flashbacks every now and then, a book surely needs to be able to hold the reader’s attention with a crisper narrative. This book definitely lacked that. What would have helped the book was just 12 chapters (for each of those 5 minutes in the 60 minutes), with narrations from the BCL side and the Stark side alternatively, with the details from the flashbacks woven into these chapters in a much briefer fashion. The author could have taken a cue from '24' for this.

To sum it up, 60 Minutes is a decent lazy weekend read which doesn’t fully realize the potential it had.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

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