‘God is a Gamer’ is the second book of Ravi Subramanian that I happened to pick up after ‘If God was a Banker’ around 3 years back. He, Amish and Chethan are three writers I closely follow as they are the trinity who have kind of made writing an alternate career path for IIM alumni – each of them having chosen a completely different genre to shine in. Ravi Subramanian has often been called India’s own John Grisham. While Chethan created reading interest through his campus romances and Amish had opened up the genre of mythology based fiction, Ravi has pioneered a completely new genre – thrillers around specialized professions. What John Grisham has done for law and Dick Francis for horse racing, Ravi Subramanian has done for banking. Though in terms of pure writing alone, I would hesitate to compare him with his Western counterparts, he is definitely one of the best homegrown writers of commercial / genre fiction.
‘God is a Gamer’ I found was different from ‘If God was a Banker’ in the sense that the author is trying to step out of his comfort zone of banking and step into the world of politics, investigating agencies, organized crime, technology and online gaming. That way the book presents a novelty factor while the author still continues to leverage his rich knowledge of the world of finance and banking. Being a sucker for series stories, I was happy to see some of the characters from ‘If God was a Banker’ make their appearance again in this series: however, here they form part of the supporting cast.
The things I liked most about this book are the pace and simplicity of language that make it a real light, breezy read. There is never a dull moment. This book proceeds at break neck speed with murders, robbery, frauds happening all over. The chapters are all short and the story keeps swinging like a pendulum from US to India and back. This book is one hell of a roller coaster ride – pure unadulterated escapist fiction. I saw some of the other reviews calling the ending predictable. I did not find it so. It did throw up some surprises without completely pulling a Jack out of the box.
One of the things which I usually like in escapist fiction that was missing in this book was a strong protagonist. The story had a huge cast of characters and all of them were given equal importance. So the reader did not have any one character to root for. One can of course bring up the example of Game of Thrones. But that is epic fantasy that runs over thousands of pages giving readers sufficient scope to familiarize themselves with each of the characters and choose their own hero or heroine. The author of a short thriller does not have that luxury. Also all the characters were stereotypical and none had any distinguishing trait that could really endear them to the reader.
While some of the concepts like bitcoins and the dynamics of the gaming industry were introduced, I felt the coverage was at best superficial. Also the plot was not perfect and a few gaps were visible hampering the suspension of disbelief that good fiction requires. I also found the narrative quite ordinary with lot of tell and less of show. But none of these should deter a casual Indian reader looking for a light read. They might actually, on the contrary, work to the book’s advantage.
Overall I would say this is an excellent light travel read. It could be easily made into a script for a good Bollywood action thriller movie like say ‘Kahani’.
The book was given to me for review as part of the book tour organized by 'The Book Club' of which I am a member.
The Book Blurb:
Aditya runs a gaming company that is struggling to break even. A banker slips off a highrise building, plunging to her death. The finance minister has made some promises that he is finding hard to keep. The LTTE has unleashed terror in America that sends the FBI on a wild goose chase, bringing them to Mumbai.
Enter Varun, parttime drug dealer and fulltime genius. He turns around the gaming company before disaster strikes. Meanwhile, the investigators plunge headlong into the shady world of bitcoins and the Dark Net, websites that only exist for illegal transactions—drugs, sex and money. God Is a Gamer culminates in a stunning climax where money means nothing, assassination is taught by the ancient Greeks, and nothing is as it seems.