Friday, August 04, 2017

Saboteur - book review

This “How to” and “How not to” seems to have become a theme for this month, at least for the first three posts. While the first one dealt with how not to screw up a good story, the second post was about how to package old wine in attractive container and make it a success. This post is again a review post, about a book that I got as a gift 2 months back. Either I am going dud by reading only ebooks, which has resulted in me going super dud on hardcopies or the book, “Saboteur” was such a page turner by itself!!! I want to believe the reason is a mix of both.

Of the few authors that I’ve Arthur Hailey is my favorite, for each of his books are almost like thesis on the theme of the novel. You read his “Airport” by the end of it your perception about the entire place would go for a 360 degree change, especially those airports located at places with extreme weather conditions. You read his “Hotel” or “Evening news” , it would give you all new dimension about these otherwise common place topic. You read his “Final diagnosis” end of the book, if not a doctor at least it will leave you feeling like a lab technician. The point being, despite so many different topics, each of which are pretty niche and involves lot of technical talk, none of the novels leave you reeling with over dose of information or making it feel like a daily soap opera, where the setting is just for the sake of it, full of human drama. It’s the fine balancing act of correctly placing the human elements amidst a niche topic, make him what he is I guess. Same goes for Michael Crichton. Considering that they take such seriously technical topics on medicine and science in general, yet make you believe that either you understood the premise and terminology or even if you didn’t you can still follow the story and all more importantly, relate to it, makes these authors a winner in their own aspect. This is exactly where RV Raman, the author of “Saboteur” falls short.

Considering his professional background, the theme of the book must have been bread and butter category for him in his career days. But one can easily make out his cadre, even without the information from the “About author” notes. Economics has always been a hazy topic to say the least, for me personally, with which I always have this confusion of, whether to treat it as maths or as theory. To me it looks as if the author has woven a story around several chapters of economics and modern day accounting and has somehow managed to insert a story into them. I can be a big buck that he is either a GRE guy or somewhere down his time, he has at least attempted for that exams. If not I would be really surprised, for his vocabulary would put those preparing words for Spellingbee contests to shame. Some of the choice of words were almost at an arrogant level, that if you care to know the meaning run to your nearest dictionary, for they were being used at such casual tone, expecting the reader to know the terms. Same goes for technical stuff. Most of the conversations are like reproduced verbatim from office conference rooms, but the content is way too technical for those from different domain to pick up. Probably this is the key area where Raman needs to analyze how Hailey and Crichton managed to convey complex medical procedures in layman’s term.

The other aspect being the human element. Till almost 2/3rds into the novel, it sounds so monotonous and being a near exact replica of a typical start-up as setting, the conversations always border on project level discussions, there by losing the focus on the participants. In other words, the story is content heavy and may, in all probability, be a real life one, told with little alteration.

Gils verdict - Got this book as gift from fiction crate, subscription box. Maybe, for those from same field of work or those who can follow and understand the concept of startups and unicorns and valuations and GMV’s, it might give an adrenaline rush while reading the book. But for the rest, give it a rest.

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