11 September, 2012

Turbulence (Book Review)

Superheroes are the in. Yes we get that. They are on our TV screens, in cinemas, in comics as always, and also in books. We have been bombarded with superheroes of all kinds, even the “real” ones (Superheroes, Super, Kick Ass) without any powers over the last five years or so in every possible way.

Amidst all this comes the new book by Samit Basu titled Turbulence. Below is my review of the book, which is a slightly elongated version of the one I posted on the Amazon.co.uk website.

Turbulence is a story about a handful of individuals from different walks of life unknowingly ending up with superpowers after a flight from London to Delhi. It is a story about these very individuals discovering their new identities and coming to terms with their powers and deciding on how to eventually use them. It is a classic tale of Good Vs Evil with emotions and self discovery thrown in as extra measure to give the characters a more human feel which in turn adds to the charm of the book.

It is quite evident that the author Samit Basu is up-to-date with his knowledge about superheroes and the pop culture references are in abundance throughout the book. He is not short on humor either with a number of instances where I did literally laugh-out-loud. Unfortunately, the biggest flaw for me lies with the powers that are allotted to the characters. Throughout the book I could not help but relate certain aspects to comic books, or TV series like Heroes, or films like X-Men, Avengers, Superman, etc. For example, there is a "suit" that is somewhat on the lines of Iron Man. Moreover, it even folds-up into a briefcase which to me shouted Iron Man 2, the film. There is a character who can bulk himself up and become a tiger faced beast which seemed pretty much like the Hulk without the obvious turmoil that the Hulk/Dr. Banner go through. Even the main villain, Jai, has shades of Magneto, not in terms of power, but in terms of their thought process. So while I tried to enjoy the book, I could not but help draw up these similarities, and there were quite a few, and I am not even a comic book fan.

Having said that, the book does have interesting characters, especially the ones that are regional to India. The Shinde Brothers provide an episode that would fair interestingly well should the book be ever made into a movie. Although once again this incident is reminiscent of the attack on X-Men’s Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters from one of the films.

Some of the other powers that are featured in the book, which I shall not mention so you can enjoy reading, are unique and bring about the fun element in the book. The book is also a small window in the thinking of young-India and in a somewhat unconventional way manages to show the reader how the new generation has been influenced by the West in their upbringing.   

Turbulence takes a little while to set itself up. While it took me a couple of weeks to get through the first 100 pages, I finished the next 250 in one day. It is also the start of a series and it is understandable that the basis has to be formed, so when the sequel Resistance comes out next year, it will hopefully not have to go back into the "origins" aspect.

The book does end on a high and sets up the story in such a way that only good things can follow. I simply wish that there is less to compare in the sequel with already released superhero films/books/comics.

Being an Indian I especially liked the local touch the story gives to the characters and while it goes around the globe culminating in London, it stays true to the region where it is primarily set.

Turbulence makes for an interesting read and it might not be genre defining, but is a positive addition to the superhero genre that we are being bombarded with from all directions.

Turbulence is rated 3.5/5 Book Worms


  1. Interesting review without revealing much details of the book. A book on the thinking of Young Indians will be an interesting take. Good post.

    1. Thanks Amit. Although its not too much about the young India but gives a glimpse into how the thinking has changed. It's primarily a superhero book.

  2. Interesting, I have never formally read Basu but heard a lot from friends otherwise. From a lot I have even received inputs that he is better than Amish in such cases. On the whole the teaser is of course tempting me to pick up turbulence. A balanced view point

    1. Even though I'm not well read when it comes to superhero comics I still could see some similarities. Having said that the book was entertaining mixed with some indian-ness and so yeah maybe I was a tad generous with the rating, but that's okay.