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.
In a nation where most women are taught to be submissive at every stage in life, Maya stands out. In a society that finds fault in women for heinous crimes like rape, Maya stands up. Maya and Rajat fall in love while they study at IIT Kanpur, their daughter Sejal only makes the bond stronger even after years of marriage. Life is almost perfect when two petty criminals decide to make her fairy tale life a tale of horror and fear with their intention of molesting her. Will she be able to fight her fate while Rajat is away and save herself and her five-year-old? Will she be able to undo all stereotypes and face the male-dominated society after that fateful night? Will Rajat stand up with her as she decides to battle her fears and take the culprits to their just punishment? Its Never Too Late is a story of every woman who decides to fight her fears and even destiny of every human who chooses the right over the easy of every wife who shoulders all responsibilities of the house and of every mother who is unwavering in her resolve to ensure that her daughter grows up in a safer world.
Rape. Molestation. Sexual Abuse. Attack. These are the words each woman in India dreads today. Increasing cases every day, rather every hour, creep into our TV channels and newspapers. Every woman is livid each time they go out on the streets. But danger doesn’t lurk only on the streets, it can inch it’s way inside your house too. That’s what happens with Maya, the protagonist of It’s Never Too Late.
In this post-Romance-genre era of Indian Literature, we have a book that touches the most relevant issue in India these days. What does a woman do when she’s alone and attacked inside her own house? How does she protect herself and her daughter? How does she overcome her fear? In the book, Maya has a loving husband Rajat and a pretty little daughter Sejal. She’s a happy woman, bound within the wings of her wonderful family. Snippets from her life are framed into scenes and described to the readers – from her student self at IIT to the wife and mother that she becomes later.