At 03:02 on a Sunday morning, the world as we knew it came to an end. Mumbai suddenly went black — no electricity, no phones, no internet and no working cars. It was as if someone had turned off the master switch of our civilization, turning us back hundreds of years overnight. We learned that it was not just Mumbai, but much of the world that had been impacted. We also learned that it was no accident. A deadly enemy was behind it. An enemy that was now in our midst, seeking to conquer us and destroy our way of life. This is how our war for freedom began. A war that was to be waged not on the borders or by the Army, but in our homes and streets, with us as the soldiers. This is our story. ’03:02 celebrates fictional heroes who fight for our freedom, but to give back to the real heroes who do so every day, for every copy sold, a contribution from author royalties will be made to the National Defence Fund, which takes voluntary contributions to help armed forces service members and their families.’
Mainak Dhar’s previous book Chronicler of the Undead is the only dystopian novel I had read in a long time. His latest offering 03:02 seemed a tad different, moving to the thriller and mystery genre. That was reason enough to pick it up for review as I’ve been a fan of Mainak’s writing. It’s always perspicuous and pleasing to read. From what I’ve read by him so far, I surely can’t complain about the form of writing. It might be the content that varies from each book to the other and creates a difference in quality.
03:02 is an interesting take on a thriller, blended with mystery and most importantly, terrorism. The protagonist, Aditya, is on the verge of turning into a corporate robot and deserves the promotion he receives. There’s a party in the evening and he crashes onto his bed later that night. Something happens at 03:02 in the morning and there’s a blackout. Aditya is oblivious of the situation and wakes up to realise something serious has happened. He goes out, scrutinises his neighbourhood and learns that nothing is working – phone, car, electricity – all dead. His neighbours are as baffled as he is. The scenario unfolds gradually, the horrors are peeled off in layers and people face the stark reality of living a life without modern facilities. Aditya takes control of the situation for the lack of a leader and starts restoring life.
When I reached halfway through the book, it struck me that the premise was strangely similar to the author’s previous novel. A lone protagonist fighting against adverse conditions, unknown enemies, ending up leading a pack of people with conviction. I think this germ of a story inspired the author to weave two novels in different genres and circumstances. 03:02 is well written, the chapters are well spaced, though the book is a tad lengthy to my opinion. The writing is coherent, free flowing and quite pragmatic in solving the problems stated in the story. There’s a streak of Bollywood in the way the story progresses and I don’t mean it in a derogatory way. There are only certain books that are meant to be made into great movies and 03:02 fits the bill.
I’m not sure why I felt a little disappointed with the book in its totality. It might be the idea of branching out two novels from the same seed, or the lack of an x-factor that would bind the story better. I liked the plot, the language, the climax, but something tiny was missing from the novel to lend it the compactness that I expect hugely from Mainak Dhar. I’d still look forward to his next book though.
Recommended for every thriller buff, you won’t be disappointed.
My Rating: 3.5/5
About the Author:
After finishing his schooling at Modern School, Barakhamba Road and his under-graduation at Hindu College, Delhi, Mainak Dhar graduated from the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad. He has spent two decades in the corporate sector starting with Procter & Gamble in India. He spent eighteen years with P&G, fifteen of them outside India across the Asia Pacific region. In 2014, he moved back to India as the CEO of the India operations of a major consumer products multinational. A self-described cubicle dweller by day and writer by night, Mainak is also the author of over a dozen books, some of which have been bestsellers in India and abroad. These books have been translated into Turkish, Vietnamese, Japanese, French, German and Portuguese. He lives in Mumbai with his wife, Puja and their son, Aaditya. When not at work or with his family, he can usually be found working on or thinking about his next book.
Language: English, Genre: Fiction/Thriller/Mystery
Author(s): Mainak Dhar
Publisher: Westland, Year Published: June 2016
Binding: Paperback, Edition: First, Pages: 350
ISBN-13: 978-9385152962 , ISBN-10: 9385152963
Reviewed for: Writersmelon
Buy from Amazon