Monday, December 9, 2013

67. Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup

And quite accidentally did I read a book from the Slumdog Millionaire famed Vikas Swarup. I am always skeptic picking up a book by any Indian author or about India in general; the former for the fear of being badly written (I know that sounds kind of racist, but in my experience that often turns out to be the case) and the latter for generally playing to the stereotypes (regardless of the author being Indian or not).

Hence I was pleasantly surprised when I came across this book, which suffered from neither of the two flaws mentioned here-in-above, it was fast-paced, action filled (not the violent kind, generally), quite the page turner. 

"Why only a 3* then?", the curious may ask. Well, for one, it was too dramatic! It would require a complete denial of the laws of probability to accept this book, even in the loose world of fiction. Everything that is possible in this world, is experienced by the protagonist, and all within the space of a year. Even Rand in Wheel of Time series saw less excitement, his Ta'veren status not withstanding! (The seemingly random reference to the Wheel of Time series will become clear, come the next paragraph.)

Over a casual discussion about this book in a cafe, a business and now personal acquaintance of mine, on hearing my objections with regard to the realism of the book, raised a very pertinent question, "But you read Sci-Fi, don't you?" I told her that a well written Sci-Fi or Fantasy book is almost always logically consistent, the amount of details that go into the world building is beyond what a book like this one can hope to achieve. To her credit, she grasped this point immediately, instinctively even, despite her not being a reader of either of these two genres.

The second shortcoming, if I may be allowed to call it that, was the shallow development of characters of all, but the protagonist. Swarup barely scratched the surface of all his characters, showcasing only the superficial of traits in each of them.

It is obvious that Swarup is one of those rare Indian authors who can write some really good stuff, but given the massive fame he has already accumulated, I am not too optimistic about him changing / moderating his writing style.


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