There are a few writers these days who can successfully weave thrillers….a thriller which literally makes you feel the pace and excitement and as the plot thickens you push yourself even to skip a few pages so that you can finally discover the face behind the mask. Ravi Subramanian’s“God is a Gamer” has the perfect ingredients of a fast-paced thriller. It has a neat, tight plot that revolves around banking, technology, gaming, politics, love, lust and Bitcoin. From the pious pillars of Indian Parliament to the revered corridors of Capitol Hill, the story moves with a natural flow.
“God is a Gamer” is the first book of its kind where Bitcoins, the world’s first decentralized digital currency, is one of the protagonists. The story begins in December 2009 as we see two topnotch honchos from two internationally reputed Corporate Houses are discussing an impending issue which can drag their business southwards. The scene then shifts to the famous Wikileaks incident in 2010 which had first brought bitcoins largely under the limelight.
Soon after, a US Senator, Gillian Tan, is assassinated and FBI starts mobilizing all their resources to get to the bottom of it. Meanwhile, in Mumbai, India, an unprecedented phishing attack on NYIB’ s database makes several of its customers lose fairly large amounts. Simultaneously, a daring ATM heist occurs in US by compromising five credit cards of NYIB which further complicates the situation and the Indian BPO company eTIOS, (the company to which NYIB has outsourced its card operation) under the leadership of Aditya Rao, begins to face a difficult time.
The parallel narration keeps on shifting continuously between US and India and seemingly disconnected incidents open up one by one. As the story proceeds, we find that the fate of several characters, Aditya, Varun, Tanya, Malvika, Swami, Nikki, Gloria are intertwined. A successful mystery writer never tells a story, he shows it…and Ravi has done that very well. The main characters here are actually not any particular human being, they are gaming and technology and, of course, bitcoins.
As a gameaholic, (with a level of 2500+ in Zynga’s Mafia Wars and working as a diligent farmer in Farmville) I could absolutely relate to the issues which a gamer can face and which can make her/him insane. A single glitch means a lot in the world of gaming. And rightly it has been said by Varun,“A customer knows more about your product that you can ever imagine”. The introduction of any new game in the gaming world is always an immense challenge to the associated companies and they can go to any extent to make it a success. Social network sites and the role they play in this world have been shown precisely.
It’s quite evident from the book that apart from his own forte, banking and finance, the author has done extensive research on Bitcoins and TOR and related technology. He has touched every chord of modern world, from blogging to drug racketeering to money laundering which are often hosted by higher officials and topmost political leaders.
The language is simple yet suave. The technical terms have been described to make them comprehensible to the common readers. The characters, the lustful lass, the power-hungry lady, the honest entrepreneur, the technical whiz, all of them seem quite real.
There are certain weak links ( yes, the nitpick in me is here again) like nothing is known about the fate of the money which FBI finds at Jose’s apartment. The ‘Altoids’ is shown too much confident to not care on leaving a digital trail. And there are a few more which I can’t mention for that would be a spoiler. Only one term, ‘mining of bitcoins’ has not been overtly discussed, but that I think is because it’s too complicated a process and would have been made the narration boring and monotonous. At the end of the story, the author could have shed a few pages, especially the group interrogation episode has become unnecessarily long.
However, these minor issues can be overlooked for the book is an absolute page-turner and you’ll not be able to sleep in peace until you know the end! After quite a long time, I’ve enjoyed a thriller to the fullest. I recommend it for all who have a penchant for political thriller, murder mystery, banking fraud …..and what not!
From my side it’s 4/5
About The Author
Described as the ‘John Grisham of banking’, by the Wall Street Journal, Ravi Subramanian, an alumnus of IIM Bangalore, is the author of five bestselling commercial novels—If God was a Banker (2007), Devil in Pinstripes (2009), The Incredible Banker (2011), The Bankster (2012) and Bankerupt (2013)—based on financial crime. His latest book God is a Gamer, releases on September 12th.
Having been a banker himself, he has a unique insight into the industry he writes about and a flair for spinning intricate plots that keep readers on the edge of their seats
His debut novel, If God was a Banker, won the 2008 Golden Quill Readers’ Choice Award and, more recently, The Incredible Banker won the 2011 Economist-Crossword Book Award in the ‘Popular’ category. He won the Crossword book award for The BANKSTER in 2012.
Ravi lives in Mumbai with his Biotechnologist turned banker wife, Dharini and his fourteen year old daughter Anusha.