Book Review : The Winner’s Curse by Dee Walker
|Publisher||Srishti Publishers; 1 edition (24 December 2014)|
WHY I READ THE BOOK
One fine day last month, I was going over my notes taken at the #WIN conference by Blogadda in Feb 2014. In his opening address, Mr.Ravi Subramanian had mentioned that Mr.Yatin Gupta helped him setup an author blog and got him initiated into blogging.
Life seems to have an almost impossible line-up of coincidences in store for me. The very same morning, a mail from Mr.Yatin Gupta himself was waiting for me in my inbox when I opened my Gmail on reaching office. It was about a review copy upon expressing interest.
As apparent from my writing this review, I signed up. 🙂
What sparked my interest was
1) Mr. Gupta himself backed the book.
2) It was written using a pen name. I like pen names!
3) The blurb was interesting – it reminded me of Adhar Cards and UIDs somehow.
4) It is the author’s first book. (I have this thing for first novels 😛 )
WHY YOU SHOULD READ THE BOOK
It is a fast paced story for one. The techies and business folks amongst us will identify with the jargon used to explain technology and Government tenders. Parallel tracks are at a minimum, which makes the reader sit on the edge wondering what comes next. Also, if you’re an IITian, want to be one or have anyone close to you in IIT; you might wanna pick this one up. (No, it has nothing to do with campus stories or isn’t a CB kinda IIT story.)
The story is about a big budget Government Telecom scheme being brought in to facilitate transparency in the Bureaucratic functioning. There are big parties involved in bidding for the tenders. The race to win the bid with hurdles like political interests of the stakeholders, corruption in importing the infrastructure and parallel deals being made to secure the contract somehow has IITians from the same batch involved. When the contract is allotted, the winner is faced with a moral dilemma – whether to go through, or not – as the not-written-in-RFP requirements if implemented, will bring an end to individual privacy, as we know today.
Although the book has a taut and almost flawless plot, rather than being story driven; it is primarily character driven.
I think the USP of this book will be it’s unique characters.
The focus is on IITians whose traits are reminiscent of one or more of the 10 commandments that are drilled into the genius brains of the IIT graduates.(You didn’t know IITians had a code or commandments?! Well, neither did I. 😛 ) There are other supporting characters from the non-IIT world. With about more than 10 key characters, The Winner’s Curse is a densely populated book.
I don’t know how Dee Walker has managed ZERO redundancy in the characterization. Every single character introduction takes the story forward and there is NO character which could have been dropped.
Harsh is the protagonist of the story. From the blurb, it appeared that he is a fresh pass-out (yeah yeah I know it’s wrong English but I’ll still use the term). Turns out, he is in his late 30s. He has a strong political backer in the form of the Master,whom he considers his Guru. You’ll find it difficult to categorize Harsh as plain black or white. Let’s say his heart is white, but his actions are black. (Picture Ajay Devgan’s character in Once upon a time)
ARMANI is a bio-tech genius and the possible protagonist of the sequel Dee Walker has in mind, as it appears from the Epilogue. He couldn’t get into IIT in 2 attempts!
Rocky is an IIT alumnus bureaucrat with a nagging guilt about being corrupt, but still not ready to rebel against the system. Also, he has a bad equation with Harsh since his IIT days and cannot see eye to eye with him on anything.
There are more, this was just an idea.
WHAT I LIKED
1) The narration is crisp, laced with specific details, showing that the author knows what he is talking about.
2) The scene setups come alive.(For example Harsh’s meeting with Dubai investors at the Burj.)
3) The fact that FIITJEET and UNIVQuest are perhaps real institutes. Also the author stresses in the end that IIT is not the ONLY thing which signifies one’s intelligence. Even IIT grads have to live up to their formative years at the Uni, when they come into the real world.
WHAT I DID NOT LIKE
1) There are one or two technical, plot related loopholes I am still pondering on.
2) The Editor has done a bad job. By bad, I do mean bad. For instance, I found an entire sentence printed twice in adjacent paras. Don’t even talk about small typos.
3) I think mentions of illicit relationships and steamy affairs are added just because of the common perception that it makes the book spicier.There is a gay relationship for business benefits – which is more of a ploy to draw readers.
4) Lot of cursing. It should not be a problem with most of the readers, as Tarantino and closer home Anurag Kashyap, have made it a necessary ingredient in gritty realistic stories.
IN A NUTSHELL
Since I started with the mention of Mr.Ravi Subramanian’s address at #WIN, let me end with it too. He said, one of the reviews of his debut book said ‘It was a steaming pile of manure.’ Although the audience doubled over with laughter, I wonder how he’d have felt when he was not a household name yet.
Now I, as a reviewer (and a wannabe author 😛 ), have a natural tendency to try and tear apart a book from the first page. I tried to curb the instinct and started with the book, only to find that after the initial 2-3 pages, I was transformed into an unbiased ordinary reader just wanting to know ‘what happens next’!
If a book can do that, it is surely worth a read. I’d sum up by saying :
“The Winner’s Curse is brilliant in parts, with a strong message of staying true to your ideals; which is brought about quite effectively in the end.”
I would rate The Winner’s Curse a decent 3.5 on a scale of 5.