Samit Basu’s Turbulence is a Smooth Read for Summer

GameStop, Inc.

by Victoria Irwin

Senior Correspondent

Turbulence CoverTurbulence, the new novel by talented Indian writer Samit Basu, is a new take on the genre of normal human beings taking on super hero tendencies.  While aboard a transatlantic flight from London to Indian soil, a group of Indian travelers mysteriously develop super powers that align to their heart’s greatest desires. As they discover these new skills, they band together in various groups; some for the greater good of humanity, and some for the ultimate conquest of the world. Aman is a young man with sudden ability to access internet and phone lines from his head alone. Uzma is a young woman looking to become the next big Bollywood star who suddenly discovers people mysteriously flock to her. Tia, a mother who has always wished she could live a million lives becomes capable of splitting into hundreds of different bodies at time, all living various lives and bringing back those experiences to her. Vir, a pilot who has lived his whole life for the sky, finds he is able to soar without the need for a plane. And then there is the power hungry Jai;  a military officer with a quest for world domination.

Samit Basu does characterization incredibly well, bonding the reader with the characters as quickly as a television show. His visual descriptions give a focused picture of the action, with the reader filling in the small details to complete the characters. A great example of this is the character Anima. The small girl is recruited by Jai to help his army. She is described as a normal little girl until she enters battle mode, where she takes on the characteristics of an anime character. Her battle attacks are given overly descriptive names that she screams as she performs them, little bolts of green lighting striking her opponents. The shape of her mouth and eyes as she executes her blows are described the same way an anime illustration would be.  Basu relies heavily on the reader’s knowledge of pop culture, referring to references in various Asian animation, DC, and Marvel properties.

What sets Turbulence apart from other super hero books is the location. Set in India, the novel is very much imbedded in the world and culture of its setting. Bollywood, cricket matches, tensions with Pakistan and a strange yet aversive reverence for London all play key roles in the lives of those who were transformed via the transatlantic flight. One interesting point is that Uzma, though her charismatic powers are strong, still cannot mention that she was born to Pakistani parents in the UK, because her roots to Pakistan will cause her to be a disliked figure. Vir and Jai both show intense pride in their connections to the Indian army, and both go out of their way to mention how important it is to them that India be considered as a World power. The British passengers who show signs of powers are killed almost immediately, as Jai intends to keep the powers to the Indian people only.

In a realm where novels of the supernatural and heroes are everywhere, it is a relief to read a novel that not only holds your attention but does keep super heroes as an Americans only club.  It is a quick enjoyable read, especially for that next transatlantic flight for the super hero lover in us all.

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