Posts Tagged ‘dystopian fiction’

 

I started reading this novel late night on weekend and totally sucked into the whirlpool of the story. Hell! No saints in paradise is basically, a dark dystopian satire based on Islamic extremism. In not so distant future, Pakistan turned into caliphate of Al-Bakistan under the rule of a khalifa. People follow shria law to its core and anyone who don’t comply even a shred of the law branded as kafir and killed mercilessly.
Ismael, a Pakistani-American working on his PhD thesis with the sole purpose of rebuffing Islamic concept of Hell and Heaven. In certain set of events and in trance state (after ingesting Alahuasca, a psychedelic drug which induces hallucination), agnostic Ismael met Chacha Khidr who motivated him to go on a journey of self-discovery and redemption. Ismael agrees to be a part of conspiracy, which can potentially save the while world from unknown yet potent danger.

What intrigued me most is how the author picked up references from Quran and created story around it. Being a Hindu, I found these references fascinating, it gave me access to almost untouched territory of stories and mythologies scribbled in this Islamic holy book. Another interesting thing is the first person narration of the protagonist Ismael. This book is a chronicle of Ismael’s journey, his adventures, misadventures, realization and redemption.

First half of the novel is very well written. You will feel the influence of Salman Rushdie present in the novel in the form of super natural beings like Chacha Khidr and Pir Pul Siraat, parallel realms like Dump, heaven and hell, space-time fabric of the universe. Author effortlessly wrote about fantasy interlacing it with the probable reality. Second half was inconveniently fast paced, I felt like there was an attempt to finish the story in a limited word count. I was enjoying the subtle flow of the story and suddenly overwhelmed by the torrential flow in the last part of the story.

Talking about the dislikes, I was really not able to understand the sudden change of heart of Ismael. First experience of hallucination, one dose of Ayahuasca and Ismael turns into ardent believer of the higher cause and agrees to jump into black hole. I was expecting that author will eventually elaborate this rapid change in protagonist’s life path but found none. There was a strong reason why Ismael became agnostic, why he repels the idea of heaven and hell. This reason was lost at some point in the story and Ismael became a mere instrument in the hands of Pir Pul Siraat and Chacha Khidr, obeying the commands and doing all dirty work. I wanted to read the depth in Ismael’s character but it felt like he was chosen only because his father was someone important in the inner sanctum of caliphate and not because any of his personal virtues.

All in all, enthralling story with high imaginative quotient, action packed climax and intelligent blend of fiction, mythology, science, religion and fantasy.

**I received a copy from Writersmelon in exchange for an honest and unbiased review**

Advertisements

 

DVARCA – A unique masterpiece, one of its kind.

I was very young when I read a classic tale of 1984 by George Orwell. It gave me all sorts of instruments to look into the future with my dark glasses on. I kept digging around since then to look for similar kind of imagination and vision. My decade long search ended today while reading the last pages of DVARCA.

First of its kind by an Indian author, this book will take you through a scary journey of a dystopian future where Indian sub-continent is renamed as DVARCA. Anarchic state religion Navmarg controlling all possible aspects of its inhabitants. You should work according to them, eat according to them, and even think according to them. Every possible definition of freedom is crushed under the strict anarchic rule based on an orthodox system. The totalitarian government uses cutting edge technologies like genetic mutations and futuristic controlling devices to give pseudo belief of freedom. Your Karma and Dharma will earn you Punya based on the calculation of a  mathematical formula. You will work your life out to earn punya with the sense of false Moksha.

Vivid descriptions and lucid writing style give you goose bumps at more than one occasion. It helps you to create the imagined stage for the story as thought by the writer.

However, I felt that some key characters were not described in detail (May be left out for the sequels). Some sub-plots too were left on a cliff hanger, definitely pointing to an upcoming sequel.

One special mention to the effort put in naming each chapters. Interesting titles of chapters actually gave flare to the book.

Author used some of the very ancient rituals and regulatory rules like Maika system, gender biasing, curse words giving it a totally different dark perspective. This all seemed to be possible in distant future to me when I initially started reading book. But as I made progress, it instilled primal fear in my heart and gave chills to my spine. I started questioning myself at the turn of every other page – ‘can it be even possible?’ And when I started getting ‘Yes’ frequently is when I really understood the real horror that might really occur in our life.

This book shook my belief and raised question on the fundamental understanding of my religion. By the end of the book, I found myself wiser in my understanding  of the complex concept of Religion.

DVARCA started with a beautiful (my favorite) quote by and great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and did justice to every aspect of it:

‘He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.

And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’

 

P.S. – Shahtooti Anjeer will be a new catch phrase among dystopian fiction readers. 😛