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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Book Review: Baramulla Bomber by Clark Prasad

Book: Baramulla Bomber
Author: Clark Prasad
No. of Pages: 316
Genre: Science Fiction Espionage Thriller
Publisher: Niyogi Books

I have actually waited for a very long time for this book. Much before it was being talked about in media. A very good friend of mine, Shraddha was giving the author review inputs in the early stages of the book writing process so I was looking forward to the book release. But a long time had passed
When the book came up for review on BlogAdda.com, I snatched up the opportunity and the moment it got delivered, I rushed straight to the 'Acknowledgement' section which I hardly read in books. It was nice to see my friends name in there. I clicked a pic of the page and immediately sent it to her.
Then began the reading of the book - It was fine at first and then slowly gradually things started to happen and mysteries and suspense began to build … The build-up was good. I began speculating about the climax and the plot and the type of biblical-vedic weapon being talked about and the loyalties of the various characters. But then the book lost its pace. It seemed to drag without much happening. And then again a flurry of events hurriedly fit into the climax which left me more disappointed than fulfilled. Why disappointed you ask?
Lets take a step back and look at the book blurb: "AN ANCIENT WEAPON FROM THE VEDAS & BIBLE ONCE HUNTED BY THE NAZIS POWERED BY THE SOUND OF UNIVERSE REBORN WITH HELP OF QUANTUM PHYSICS GOING TO BE UNLEASHED ON TO THE WORLD AND KASHMIR HOLDS ITS SECRET Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking Mansur Haider, a god-fearing aspiring cricketer from Kashmir. His girlfriend, Aahana Yajurvedi, is trying to locate her missing mountaineering team, who vanished after a mysterious earthquake strikes Shaksgam Valley. Investigating Mansur and the Shaksgam Valley incident is Swedish intelligence officer, Adolf Silfverskiold, whose only relationship to god consists of escorting his girlfriend to Church. A dual China-Pakistan battlefront scenario facing the Indian Home Minister, Agastya Rathore, whose ancestors carry a prehistoric secret linked to the stars. He is faced with the challenge of finding a lasting solution to the Kashmir crisis. Which Biblical Weapon was Tested in Shaksgam Valley? Why is Mansur Haider Important? Is There a Solution to the Kashmir Crisis? Can Destiny be Controlled? Does a Cosmic Religion Exist?"
You know, it is practically impossible to ignore the book and the potential of the plot after reading the blurb. The book is touted as a 'Science Fiction Espionage Thriller' and also as 'the world's first ever techno mythology thriller' with a tag line that says 'Quantum Physics meets Bible and Vedas in the background of Kashmir and Cricket' !!! WOW !!! Right ???
Wrong !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Let's take it one by one …
1. "AN ANCIENT WEAPON FROM THE VEDAS & BIBLE ONCE HUNTED BY THE NAZIS POWERED BY THE SOUND OF UNIVERSE REBORN WITH HELP OF QUANTUM PHYSICS GOING TO BE UNLEASHED ON TO THE WORLD AND KASHMIR HOLDS ITS SECRET" – Frankly speaking, there is quite a lot of 'mention' of the Vedas and Bible, but the weapon is not really coming out from there. Nazis are mentioned in the passing and I think I missed the quantum physics in the novel and also the Kashmir holding the secret part. Did I miss reading some 100 pages or so of the 300 page novel ????
2. "Multiple intelligence agencies are tracking Mansur Haider, a god-fearing aspiring cricketer from Kashmir. His girlfriend, Aahana Yajurvedi, is trying to locate her missing mountaineering team, who vanished after a mysterious earthquake strikes Shaksgam Valley. Which Biblical Weapon was Tested in Shaksgam Valley?" – When you realize why multiple agencies are tracking Mansur Haider in the climax, you don't know whether to laugh or to pull out your own hair from the head. And yes, Aahana is supposed to be locating her missing team … well, I think I missed that too. I didn't find the team in the novel by the way. The earthquake finds mention all across the book and so does the 'biblical weapon' … But you do not get a conclusive answer to what caused the 'earthquake' and I don't understand why that weapon is referred to as 'biblical weapon'. It is like calling the Atom Bomb a vedic or Indian mythological weapon because the devastation caused by the weapon matched the description of the destruction described in the Mahabharata in the context of the famous 'Brahmastra'! Come on … really ??? And imagine a weapon so powerful that its testing causes a powerful earthquake (even the nuclear weapons testing did not cause an earthquake) … exciting – isn't it? But then, why isn't the weapon actually part of the story. Everyone in the story talks about the earthquake and the possible weapon testing … but no one is actually chasing this earth-quake causing weapon.
3. And now coming to the last part of the blurb … "Why is Mansur Haider Important? Is There a Solution to the Kashmir Crisis? Can Destiny be Controlled? Does a Cosmic Religion Exist?" …. Well, frankly speaking, the book did not answer any of those questions. These questions seemed to have come up by some copywriter who was given a 2-minute brief about the book (and did not really read the book).
Now lets look a the labels applied to the book.
First one being - 'Science Fiction Espionage Thriller' – is a decent fit. Espionage – yes, thriller – yes, science fiction … maybe.
Second one being 'the world's first ever techno mythology thriller' is highly debatable. Our mythologies cover a lot of ground mentioned a whole range of divine weapons and 'miracles' which are a reality today. Let me give you an example, if I write a novel in which a scientist invents a new engine or technology for flying machines (airplanes / fighter planes) and claims that his new technology is based on the same principle as the ancient 'Pushpak Vimana' mentioned in the Ramayan – used by Ram to travel to Ayodhya after the war with Ravan … without any mention of how I got the ancient technology, from which scripture or how I decoded it and what its secret was and why was it hidden from the world for 1000's of years … do I qualify my piece of fictions as 'techno mythology thriller' ???? By adding a single paragraph referencing some mythological occurrence of similar phenomenon, most science fiction novels will immediately become 'techno mythological' !!!!!!! Come one …. Give me a break.
Third tag line … "Quantum Physics meets Bible and Vedas in the background of Kashmir and Cricket" … as mentioned earlier, I think I missed the Quantum Physics part in the novel. Bible and Vedas are mentioned in the novel but not really part of the story as in being referenced and researched for clues o technology. Kashmir and Cricket are also there but they end up being the reason you want to scratch your head and pull out your hairs.
So all in all, Baramulla Bomber bombed for me. It turned out to be a very big disappointment. The author had an interesting premise and a good set of characters and he could have woven a fantastic story taking you across India, Pakistan, China and Middle-eastern countries where he could have traced the origin of the biblical weapon and the earthquake business and the aliens too (Yes, there is mention of aliens too and also a mention of the UFO's).
Clarke Prasad lost an opportunity to create some legendary piece of literature. If you are a very regular reader with a long reading list, don't waste your time. If you are the reader who picks up books on whim and who reads Chetan Bhagat books because movies are being made out of them and everyone around talks about him … you can pick this one up. With the right kind of marketing effort, this book can actually climb the charts.
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