Heroes in the Eastern world
Popular India-born Author Samit Basu (The Game World Trilogy, Terror on the Titanic) makes his American novel debut with an interesting take on the super hero story in his 2012 novel, Turbulence.
Rather than jumping on the cliché-train, Basu takes the back-roads with a darker approach that reminds one of the died-on-the-vine NBC hit, “Heroes,” or the cult-classic, Watchmen.
The premise is this: a strange event occurs on a flight going from London to India in which the entirety of the plane’s passengers experience an unexplained phenomena — the gaining of superpowers. Each passenger is granted superpowers that are manifestation of their deepest ambitions (one woman gains the power to multiply and produce several versions of herself due to her longing to accomplish a great deal in life — another woman wanted to be a famous actress, so her power is the ability to become instantly beloved by whomever she meets).
It is a very rather fantastical book, but Basu brings solid storytelling ability and descriptive adjective-filled sentences to the table throughout every chapter. Basu has had experience with comics (Devi, The Tall Tales of Vishnu Sharma), so he seems to know his way around a good comic book style of dialogue. Even with that being said, Basu doesn’t simply take Turbulence to comic book places as it reads and feels like a novel throughout. However, if you’re a fan of comics, this book would certainly still quench your literary thirst.
Without giving too much away, a group of the passengers create a super hero team that tries to use their powers for good (and they find out the consequences their superpowers create and grow to learn the responsibility that the powers carry). The story’s central plot never loses its “oomph” and it carries all the way to the last page, leaving the reader wanting more after the earth-shaking bookend.
Turbulence is chalk-full of rich dialogue between the multiple protagonists (there really isn’t a single one, it is more of a collective protagonist) and their reactions to being dealt with the harsh reality of becoming different. I found myself catching empathy-fever when reading the back-and-forth between the characters that often felt more authentic than fantastical (Of course, I’m talking about how real people would hypothetically react to such a fantastical scenario).
With all of success and warm reception that Turbulence has received, I wouldn’t be surprised if a sequel were to emerge in the near future — I know I would give it a read.