Thursday, 5 February 2015

Book Review : The Winner's Curse

   The Winner's Curse

By Dee Walker


Dee Walker is an alumnus of IIT Delhi, and is a businessman in the field of startup ventures, specifically into providing guidance to international companies wanting to invest in India. He also works closely in Pro Poor Policy and Programme Development, Monitoring and Evaluation.


THE CHARACTERS
Harsh Mittal : Dont judge him. Repeat : DONT judge this guy
Kamal Pandey: I like him, period. Nice guy, tough and a fighter
Babuji : A Politician. Need I say more? 
Roabesh De Mello : The Resident Sycophant
Raghav Badhwar : The quintessential I-Me-Myself man
Rajan Khosla : Corporate Hot Shot...
Savita Bhambi : The Ferret
A. R. Mani : Tech Wiz. He starts with tech, and stays with tech till the end. Right till the end. 
Aravind Pandey : He started it all... without him, there is no story to speak of... for nothing would have happened...


THE PLOT
The plot seems deceptively simple; trust me, it isnt. It is anything but simple; and is a beautifully crafted set of two intertwined plots, based on politics. The first revolves around Harsh, & Babuji. Babuji has thought up a simple plan centred around the Unique Identification Number project, involving connecting each citizen digitally and ensuring proper deliverance of services through e-governance. Tacked onto this is a surveillance and intelligence project. Babuji calls his mentee Harsh, and top businessman and an IITian to boot. 

Enter plot no 2: corruption. Some nice, decent and honest gentlemen are involved in a nice sweet and cosy mining set up, involving ferreting out some ore to China, alongwith the mandatory lining of the wrong kind in the right kind of pockets. Well, these nice people run into a most disagreeable and troublesome character who exposes them, or tries to at the very least. 

The rest of the story revolves around these two (apparently) totally unconnected plots, as the story gyrates back and forth with effortless ease. What is the connection? What happens next to our set of grey characters- for save a couple, all are etched in tones of gray to some degree? Will they manage to fight the temptations of the trappings of power, and the hypnotic pull of corruption? And how is this material the basis for a cliff-hanger? Read the book to find out!


THE ANALYSIS
The Winner's Curse is a fiction book in the political thriller genre; and stays true to its genre in totality. It is based on politics, current events, and is an out-and-out thriller. Not only is the book a thriller, it is also a thriller that does not have any violence at all; and yet manages to keep the adrenalin flowing high in the reader till the last page. It will take an effort just to keep yourself from turning and skipping the pages to see what happens next

The part I personally liked best about the book is its practicality, and the way the plot has not shown a crusader as the central character. If anything, the central character is almost on the verge of being an anti-hero, which is most out of character for a book based on political corruption. Not just the central character - every character of the book is well filled out, and etched with realistic and deep tones, making for a completely believable story, one that almost seems real...

From start to finish, the story and the plot seem stunningly real and completely believable. At no point does it feel like fiction, which is a stupendous achievement for the chosen genre and topic. The narrative is flawless, and devoid of any vulgarity. In fact, the control on the language is truly laudable, with not a word out of place. The couple of expletives that do occur are natural in the situation portrayed; that apart, the book is squeaky clean. 

The book sets a frenetic pace right from the first page, and carries the plot effortlessly forward. This is a page turner, and you will constantly want to push ahead to see what happens next. A word of advice: this is not a book that you can read in stages or in fits and starts; once you start it, you will have to finish it - that is the quality of the writing. I rate it 5 stars... a class book that is a quick and fast read, and enjoyable as well. And the icing on the cake : a lesson to boot, with the ten commandments {What are they? Read the book!} , and the hard-hitting punch in the end, as the title and its meaning strikes home hard, in a stunning climax...

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