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When a book is advertised as the 'First Bitcoin Thriller' or the author of the book is referred to as 'India's No. 1 Thriller Writer,' there is definitely a sense of expectation arising from those claim. Whether Ravi Subramanian manages to satisfy those expectations in 'God is a Gamer' is subjective, but one must give it to the man for having been able to weave out a story with a mostly decent premise incorporating money, online gaming, bitcoins, 'love' and politics.
Having seen the author's books adorn the best-seller shelves in Crossword, Landmark and elsewhere, I was keen to know whether this author was one of those 'new-age Indian writers' capitalizing on the success of Chetan Bhagat. But my impression about this author has significantly changed post reading the book. This is mainly attributed to the fact that the author, as mentioned earlier, has a decent premise in hand and does a good job of executing it with words. The language, as with many of the books these days, is mostly simple and mostly conversational and is sure to draw the average Indian reader who may want to move away from C-Bag.
The book begins with narratives from multiple cities including Mumbai, New York, and Washington DC, with multiple characters and parallel stories running through almost two-thirds of the book. These are the book’s best pages, when you try to understand how all of these parallel story threads will fall into place in the premise. While there’s the story of Malvika, Aditya, Swami, Sundeep, Varun, and Tanya on one side, there’s Gillian, Nikki, Gloria, Adrian, Dan, and Mike on the another side with pieces of Josh, the finance minister and others thrown into the premise when required. In the large scheme of things, what was impressive was the fact that it is hard to lose track of the characters for the most part, mainly thanks to the short chapters (4-5 pages each at the maximum). That is, each character felt important to the premise and was never ignored or left out across multiple chapters.
Having said that, the main peeve I have with the book is with the same aspect of having the shorter chapters, which sort of doesn’t help in forging a long bond with the character in that chapter. However the biggest disappointment from this book is the fact that you can smell the ending from a long distance (almost at the 200th page mark), though I must confess that I almost fell for the ‘almost-ending’ before the epilogue. Another fact that I did not completely relish was alienating women characters from most of the narrative using them mostly as props. Though there is Tanya and Malvika, who are presently through a major part of the narrative, they hardly seem to make an impact. The fact that the reason for the actions in the premise mainly stem out of the lust of two main characters makes for a pretty lame reasoning and seems rushed. Fortunately, this doesn’t affect the premise of the book for the most part, since it comes up at the very end.
Overall, God is a Gamer makes for a mostly decent lazy afternoon read (like the one I read it on), or as a read for person who would like to observe how Indian writing continues to evolve, for the better. Mostly.
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