Review: Turbulence – Samit Basu
I came to this novel a hopeful skeptic. I’ve read many novels with amazing premises that the actual book didn’t live up to, and I didn’t want to be disappointed again. And I wasn’t!
This is, if you’ll excuse the Australianism, a cracking good read. Well-rounded characters, a gripping plot, rippling with great writing. There are a few minor characters in the book I would have liked to know more about, but of course such an action-packed narrative doesn’t have the luxury of time to delve into everybody’s background.
Turbulence is a modern superhero tale. The characters, being cursed/gifted with their abilities after a plane flight, are all very human. There are some very unusual super-powers to balance out the traditional ones, and they all have excellent justification. I found the idea of your powers growing and developing with use a very neat concept – just in the way your muscles become stronger when you push your physical limits.
The main ensemble has a wonderfully diverse range of powers and personalities, allowing for a heady mix of internal and external conflicts to permeate the novel. The antagonists start off as “very definitely evil”, hearkening back to the traditional superhero nemeses. Things become morally grey as the story progresses, and both parties desperately search for the mysterious powered individual inciting violent flash mobs. The mundane moral woes of humanity, military and government are complicated by the addition of super-powers, and I really enjoyed the way the novel explored these issues without attempting to offer trite solutions.
Set in Mumbai and London, this novel is really fun to read and a refreshing break from all the urban fantasy set in America. The book doesn’t focus hugely on Indian culture, though the protagonists are all Indian (with one British Pakistani, sorry Uzma). It does help if the reader has a passing familiarity with some of the Hindi gods, though.
Whilst I don’t want to harp on about gender in every review, I definitely have to express my gratitude and appreciation at the fact that Basu’s ladies are just as fully realised as the men in this book. I would absolutely recommend this to anybody looking for a great read. It’s definitely an adult read though, some amazing fight scenes in here!
Check out our interview with Samit Basu here!