I have one of Aroon Raman’s books in my shelves and I didn’t read it because I thought it was part of a series and I’d accidentally bought book 2. Turns out it is a series but they aren’t continuous. Oh well. Now I’ve read the third instalment in the adventures of these characters and I have to say, I’m rather unimpressed. Maybe my expectations were too high from everyone telling me that the first two books are great or maybe the first two books are actually great and this is the only one that isn’t?
Skyfire follows Hassan, Meena and Chandrasekar as they try to figure out what’s happening to our country. Freak weather conditions, acid rain, fiery hot winds and random lightning flashes that cause skin burns and diseases have suddenly popped up over random places in India and have the people in a tizzy! At the same time there seem to be lots of slum children and a few women going missing! Meena and Chandra are worried about the first two and Hassan, handles the third as part of an urgent top priority government investigation.
The storyline as such was very interesting, the plot and its developments were interesting and filled with unexpected twists and turns. The problem I had was with the characters! Apart from Hassan, neither of the other two main characters, particularly Chandra who was unfortunately the narrator from whose POV we get the story, felt worth reading about! It also feels like the author has given each of them an unnecessary amount of drama in their past, particularly Chandra who seems to be having a midlife crisis and calls himself an intelligent award winning journalist. I don’t get it.
Meena is painted as an intelligent case solver, a professor of history and a philanthropist who goes to the slums to teach underprivileged children and doesn’t stop and worry about danger to herself when it comes to their safety yet she bursts into tears and gossips and bad mouth’s other women’s sexual activities. I just don’t find these characters compelling. Not to mention the author stopping the narrative flow of the story to give us 2 lines – 2 paras of a new character, right from their appearance to their characteristics took away from the flow of the story and in the end prevented me from enjoying the book. It felt like easy writing rather than easy reading.
The story though is action filled with characters and twists you wouldn’t have expected. Particularly the amount of research that has possibly gone into this in terms of weather conditions, science and locales. The story pans from the picturesque mountains of Bhutan to the grimy slums of Delhi and I cannot imagine the research the author did to get these things right. Granted I don’t know if it is actually right but seems like it would be.
All in all, I did not enjoy this, but mainly because of the main character and the random breaks to describe appearances and characters. I would have preferred if the author had showed me what someone is like instead of telling me. That doesn’t mean you won’t like it! It’s just a matter of taste. And it is very hard to enjoy a good book if you don’t like the narrator. Hopefully the previous two books are described from the POV of Hassan, maybe that’ll make me want to smack the character less. If you’ve read the previous books and enjoyed them you might enjoy this. A quick read, this is perfect for timepass or if you’re just getting into thrillers from romcoms.
Have you read this?
May 2012. India is hit by a series of freak weather disturbances and startling epidemics that threaten to bring the country to its knees. At the same time, children are disappearing from the slums in the capital and nobody seems to care.
Stumbling upon these strange and seemingly unrelated incidents, journalist Chandrasekhar, historian Meenakshi Pirzada and intelligence operative Syed Ali Hassan start upon a trail that leads them into the drawing rooms of Delhi’s glittering high society before reaching a terrifying climax in Bhutan, where they come face-to-face with a force of unspeakable power and evil.
*I was very kindly sent a copy of the book for an honest review. Opinions expressed are my own.