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April 9, 2012

Book Review - 78 : The Ordeal

Author: Mangesh Jadhav
Publisher: Frog Books

NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had jointly developed a satellite based technology that had military used. The Russians found out about it and tried to steal the technology through a source in the NOAA. The source travelled to France to deliver the 'package'. But CIA agent Michael Jones was close behind, intending to stop the sale. Did he succeed? What is the end result?

The author picks up an interesting scientific-led premise of this thriller which works just fine as a concept but forgets the most important thing in such a book - it should thrill you to bits; it should make you forget everything around you while being deeply immersed in finishing the book. Even though the narrative is kept at a tight leash with more focus on reaction of twists and turns than the twists and turns themselves, it is kind of a book which will leave you underwhelmed in the end.

The author takes you bang into the center of action by starting briskly with US and Russian counterparts worrying about the tsunami and its indifferent constantly changing nature. There are dozen of characters thrown in, most of them interesting though plagued by ridiculous dialogues and ludicrous situations. So the agent sourced to France has all the time in the world to seduce men, have elaborate meals and dress ravishingly at each of the occasions. Such kind of non-urgency plague the narrative deeply. Pacing is not a problem in this book but because the situations are repetitive, lines are said by elaborate explanations almost underlining each of them; it makes the book a task to finish.

One of the most infuriating aspects of this thriller is the loose editing. My favourite one is how the author constantly describes the setting of a room or a place - giving detailed half-page descriptions EVERY single time. It breaks the reading speed, it takes away the focus from the main narrative and just does not allow you to emotionally invest in the characters. Probably the editor working on the book fall asleep while going through the narrative. Well, my guess is as good as yours.

Priced at a steep INR 445 and too long at over 400 pages, the book does not work as a whole, though keeps you moving through the narrative because of its interesting premise. I am going with generous (2+0.5=) 2.5/5 for Mangesh Jadhav's 'The Ordeal'. Read it if you can somehow get past that loose editing.

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