Customer Review

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, 26 Sep 2012
This review is from: Turbulence (Paperback)
I enjoyed TURBULENCE, but I don't agree with the 5-star reviews that it has received here.

TURBULENCE states its' themes upfront and does an admirable job of exploring them. It has some very memorable scenes. But I found the writing average, especially with regards to dialogue and description.

I'm not going to give a plot summary but will mention specific scenes to illustrate points.

So, TURBULENCE takes the classic superhero scenario (a diverse cast of people receive a diverse range of powers, action ensues) and does two different things with it:
1) uses a novel form, rather than a comic
2) transplants most of the action to India

I think that the novel format worked in giving book greater depth. The book's biggest strength is the in-depth exploration of the implication of powers (especially Aman's) on the real world. Basu breaths life into some of the "B-list" of comic-book powers (e.g. Tia's self-duplication) and there are some very clever moments (again, often involving Tia). The downside is that the format doesn't lend itself to extended descriptions of action - the end fight was especially anemic.

The book is written in the present tense and shifts between character viewpoints many times within a chapter (or even within a conversation). I found this confusing, especially because it became clear halfway through that Aman is the book's focal character.

There is a lot of violence in this book but I am pleased that Basu doesn't possess the fascination with gore and profanity shared by many current genre authors. This is clear from the opening chapter. Scenes like Tia's assualt on the Kashmir base could have been very unpleasant if written by, say, Iain M Banks.

On the other hand, another author might have bought the setting to life more colourfully. There are some amusing observations on contemporary India (I laughed at Namrata's interview with the Kalki Party) but nothing that can't be found in other English-language works on India by authors and journalists. Most characters are given very superficial descriptions.

Whilst I liked the internal monologues (e.g. when Aman sets out to change the world), extended inter-character dialogue (such as the two cafe scenes) lacked spark.

I felt that the ending was an anti-climax, especially after the chilling set-up of the "mob villain's" horrible power.

Overall, TURBULENCE fills the long plane ride promised by the title but I don't think it's a classic.

As a passing comment, I do think it would make a great film and I might consider reading the sequel.
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