As many of you are aware, I am a big book fan, and I love it when I get them free. That’s the reason I have registered for the Blogadda book review program.
Once registered, you start receiving mails about books available for review. If you like a book, you apply to review it and if you are lucky, you get a free copy of that book.
When I received notification that a book called “Red Jihad” was available for review, I was certainly curious. “Red” and “Jihad” both in the book title! When I read the excerpt on the book review page, I was hooked. I applied to review the book and was selected. Soon, the book was in my hand. But review was going to take a long time.
With a lot of workload, and a US visit looming, I couldn’t make time to read the book at all. Then I had a brain wave. I would read the book on the non-stop 15 hour flight to New York, and write the review as soon as I landed in the US.
The first part of the plan worked. Once I started reading the book, I couldn’t stop reading it. It’s a compulsive page turner. The usually boring 15 hours passed quite fast, and I did complete the book on flight. The second part of the plan never worked. Then I came back to Mumbai, and then there was Diwali, and then the sad demise of Balasaheb Thakre. I never got down to writing the review.
But one can learn the art of follow up from the Blogadda book review team. :). They wouldn’t give up. So finally, here it is. (I hope I am not disqualified from the program for this inordinate delay.)
India & Pakistan has been at loggerheads ever since they became free, and this has led to both the nations ignoring their internal strife. So Pakistan has the Jihadists, and the Indian state has the Red Naxalites, disturbing the domestic peace, but not being attended to.
The book starts with a premise that in 2014, Pakistan has finally shunned being an Islamic republic, and has turned democratic. The relationship between India and Pakistan has improved so much, that they don’t need armies protecting their mutual borders. So now the same armies can be turned towards their internal enemies, viz Jihadists and Naxalites. The Reds and Islamists are on the verge of losing completely, and are just struggling to stay afloat.
Enemy’s enemy can be ones friend. So a Pakistani Jihadi leader, Yasser Bashir joins hands with an Indian Naxalites Leader, Agyaat. There aim, to destroy the peace between India and Pakistan, so they start fighting each other again, leaving the field open for the Islamists and the Naxals.
Together, they unleash Pralay, Indias state of the art Intercontinental Balistic Missile. It takes a haphazard, unpredictable route and finally hits ….
It’s a very cleverly woven tale, blurring the boundaries between the reality and the fantasy. The level of detail and the authenticity of the information related to the armed forces, weaponry and the state craft keeps the reader grounded in reality, but the whole concept itself is so fantastic, at the same time, so plausible.
Sami Ahmad Khan, the author, is a great story teller. If you don’t already know, you can’t make out that it’s his debut novel. It’s a little slow on the uptake, but once you survive first 50 pages or so, you can’t keep the book down. The events happen at a very fast pace. So fast in fact, that you don’t stop to think of any flaws in the plot. The biggest flaw being complete absence of any explanation about how the top secret information becomes available to the Jihadis.
In spite of some of these shortcomings, I would whole heartedly recommend this book. Apart from the events, the characters are also very well fleshed out and seem very real. Sami has a knack of making the people come alive with very few, well chosen words.
All in all, a must read from a very promising author.