Gripping, Fast-paced, Engrossing, and very Entertaining - Red Jihad: Batttle for South Asia

Thursday, October 25, 2012 Vishaal 1 Comments

Good read, a bit idealistic and a very filmy ending, but nevertheless gripping and plausible!!
Title: Red Jihad: Battle for South Asia
Language: English
Author: Sami Ahmad Khan
Genre:  Suspense and Thriller
Publisher:  Rupa Publications India Pvt Ltd. (2012)
ISBN: 8129119870
ISBN-13: 9788129119872 , 978-8129119872
Binding: Paperback
Price: Rs. 295 (Buy from Flipkart for Rs.227)
Pages: 280

Book Synopsis:  What will happen if the fanatic rebels of two countries with a bitter past join forces? What if Pakistan has transformed into a democracy and India in to a military regime? In Sami Ahmad Khan's gripping novel, we meet the above scenarios and the idea of World War III.

Review Summary: The kind of novel I personally love to read, Red Jihad: Battle for South Asia, is the kind of book, that even with all its flaws is un-put-down-able! I received the book at 4 in the evening and I had finished reading it by 7 P.M.

Detailed Review:

The novel is set in the year 2014, and follows a series of events that seem entirely plausible given the way things are moving along today! (The author has also pointed out how the events today are playing out eerily similar to some aspects of what he had written before they happened!!)

The premise of the book is what would happen if the two major "revolutionary" rebel/fanatic groups i.e. the Naxalites of India and the Pakistan Taliban join forces. Not entirely impossible right? Heck! There are even a few news stories recently of how this may have already happened.

In the novel, this happens some time in early 2014 when Pakistan has transformed itself in to a Democratic republic and the word "Islamist State" has been removed from its constitution. The Taliban have all but lost out in the internal war and even the people of Pakistan have stopped supporting the war-mongers. The Army has been tamed and the new generation of leaders are stable in thought and measured in their action.  This last aspect of the novel is what I found to be too idealistic and though not impossible to think about, unlikely to happen any time soon!

The India of 2014 on the other hand is ruled by a young politician, left-leaning even (Shades of Rahul Gandhi anyone?) and has become a self-reliant country, with peace along its borders. China has formed a peaceful alliance and Pakistan has stopped insurgency. The Government has appointed a tough Army chief who has started routing the naxals and has made the Naxalite leaders run for cover in to neighbouring Nepal.

Indian Naxalite Agyaat ties up with Pakistani extremist Yasser Basheer to hijack a Top Secret Indian missile, Pralay and use it on India, thereby deflecting the government’s focus from the Red corridor.   The mini crisis that sets in following the hijack of the missile, sees the Army chief in a coup against the democratic government and the setting up of a thrilling mid part of the novel which you hope never ends!

The missile is launched and seems headed towards New Delhi and the country braces for maximum damage. But when the missile intriguingly changes course and lands on Lahore instead of Delhi, the consequences change drastically. Pakistan wages war against her neighbor despite the Indians pleading innocence and the possibility of a nuclear war looms large.

How the threat plays out forms a good part of the rest of the novel and the twists and turns that the author has managed to blend in to the story makes for wonderful reading.

Gripping, Fast-paced, Engrossing, and very Entertaining. This book will hopefully spawn a new generation of novels in India that deal with the politics and foreign affair thrillers, a space that is waiting to be explored for the Indian audience.
For a debut book, Sami Ahmad Khan has done a brilliant job. He has left no stone unturned to ensure that the plot of the book keeps a reader on his mental-toes throughout. The story goes from past events to future events seamlessly and characters of the book are well defined and have been intelligently handled.

Similarity with current day events make the storyline entirely plausible and the author tries to avoid generalizations and speaks of specifics, which shows that he has done a lot of research into the events.  

Negatives:  The author shows off his command over the English language throughout the book. However the use of complex words could have been curtailed as it does throw away the casual reader a little. Simple easy daily language would have been better. 

The ending appears to be all too contrived and a bit too idealistic with a scenario that is straight out of  Hollywood potboiler with conspiracy theories.                                                     

How the Naxalites come to know of this Top Secret missile is never revealed and is left up to the reader to put two and two together and come up with the answer. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but does create a minor hiccup.

Who will enjoy this? -  People who love to unearth conspiracies hidden in the daily news items, Fiction book lovers, political thrill seekers and almost everyone who likes to have a good read.

Who may not enjoy this? -  Romance novel enthusiasts :P

Buy or not to buy? - Definite Buy! Flipkart is currently running a Rs. 68 discount on the cover price of Rs. 295. Buy Red Jihad: Battle for South Asia here.

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1 comment :

  1. Dear Bhat Sahib,

    Thank you for the wonderful review. I am glad you liked the book. On another note, I will try to work on the negatives you pointed out (for my next).

    As for the secret of how the Naxals found out about the missile, I've left some clues in the book for the reader to decode and investigate on their own. Yes, there is a link - it just has to be found :)