Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Book review: God is a Gamer

Of late, I am being introduced to a whole new world of Indian thrillers, who were always there while I was too busy looking elsewhere. I now realize that I had actually been missing out on a lot. These thrillers have plots that span across the globe and read quite like their foreign counterparts.

A case in point is Ravi Subramanian’s novel God is a Gamer. Being a banker himself his stories revolve around the banking industry and his past books reflect that. I know this is embarrassing, but while everyone is acquainted with his other books, God is a Gamer is my first. I love receiving autographed books and Ravi’s ‘Keep smiling!’ autograph with a smiley doodle really brought out a smile on my face.

I took some time finishing the book as I had two hectic travels ensconced in between. Blame it on my travels, but I did have to go back and forth trying to establish or remember the characters and storyline a bit.

Here is my take on God is a Gamer by Ravi Subramanian:




The story is based on the premises of a digital currency known as bitcoin that provides a leeway to transactions, some of which may be loosely termed as ‘not quite legal’. The plot sails through several cities from around the world – Mumbai, Delhi, Goa and Washington DC, and includes a number of characters, ranging from drug-dealers and bankers to software engineers and politicians. Even the POTUS makes his presence felt. There are references to real world companies and their CEOs. The game mentioned in the story closely resembles Farmville on Facebook, and Farmville is actually acknowledged as a competitor. In other words, this has got all the ingredients that are familiar to us, the 21st century self-obsessed, internet-savvy dwellers.

The story mainly revolves around a few bankers and banker-turned-gaming entrepreneurs, their protégés and foreign-returned children, and complicated relationships. There are murders and deaths a-galore, a few occurring within the first few pages itself, and the FBI hunts for an obscure character who orchestrated a huge ATM heist in the US. The final twist at the end reveals the mastermind behind the gamut of set-ups, and the reason behind the conspiracy, thus striving to provide an answer to the question “Is revenge a crime?”, posed by the author on the book cover.

What worked: 

The panorama of the story is a wide one. To be honest, I was a bit taken aback with the inclusion of companies such as MasterCard, Visa International, Wikileaks, Facebook, etc. and the decisions that they took. But then I realized that I never raise my eyebrows when I am reading about such things in a foreign thriller. So why should I feel uncomfortable in an Indian one? 

The most important thing that worked for me is the familiarity of subjects – the marketing strategies adopted, the gaming rules (read my experience as a Farmville player), phising scams, corporate set-ups and lifestyles of the rich (haha). Besides, the author explained briefly what bitcoin was all about, as well as terms such as TOR, and their implications. 

The storyline is taut and it does not slacken its pace at any time. I also liked the grandeur of the story and the ambition of the author was apparent - that he wanted his book to reach out globally and not be confined within Indian readership.

What did not:

Well, several things bothered me. One of them was the sudden death of Swami, who had so much build-up to the character and then just disappeared after his death/murder (?). Then again, the character of Varun instantly transformed from a junkie in Goa to a sharp business strategist in the blink of an eye. I later realized that he had a degree in business management from a foreign university, but perhaps his involvement in his dad’s business could have been a bit gradual. 

On the topic of Satoshi Nakamoto, the founder of Bitcoin, his identity is revealed in the book. It seems a bit unbelievable, given that Satoshi Nakamoto’s actual identity is still under shrouds and is a controversial figure. Another thing, would people be still excited to play a game that was so similar to Farmville?

But the part that rankles most is the climax and the revelation of the mastermind. It somehow sat uncomfortable with me - about the person who got arrested. (I will refrain from mentioning the gender here and just refer to the person as B). I mean, was B’s crimes that bad that this huge conspiracy had to be generated? Was it criminal to have a big libido? B did instigate the senator against his daughter, but did B actually tell him to commit the act?

Anyways, these flaws that appeared to me notwithstanding, God is a Gamer is a book worth spending one’s afternoons over, or nights, if you prefer. It is a gripping tale of murder, deceit and intrigue, and I am sure it will hold you captive. Maybe, like me, you will forget for a moment that you are reading an Indian author. Do let me know how it went for you.






This review is a part of the biggest http://blog.blogadda.com/2011/05/04/indian-bloggers-book-reviews" target="_blank"> Book Review Program for http://www.blogadda.com" target="_blank">Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!

2 comments:

  1. Honestly Sangeetha, I never heard of this book but I really enjoyed reading your review. Good one!

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    1. Thanks Gowthama! I received this book through blogadda. Maybe you should check it out, too :)

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