Are you reading your way through the JCB Longlist 2020 titles as well? If yes, which book has been your favorite so far?
Chosen Spirits – My Thoughts
I’m slowly making my way through the JCB Longlist 2020 titles, and this will be my third book from the list. Considering that the shortlist will be out just on 25th September, I know I’m woefully behind in trying to finish all the books before the shortlist is out. Some of the books I really want to read, irrespective of whether they make it to the shortlist or not. But some, I probably won’t mind skipping if they don’t make it to the shortlist.
Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu, is a dystopian story, set in New Delhi many years in the future. In the book, events referenced from true events that took place during the NRC/CAB protests in India are talked about as a thing of the past. But other than the fact that technology has advanced, and that people are hooked to social media and documenting their lives via Flows (similar to Vlogs I thought), politically and socially, nothing has improved. In fact, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, with the gap between the privileged rich and the discriminated/minority poor increasing.
I absolutely loved the futuristic world building in Samit Basu’s story. The smarttatts actually gave me a phantom itch on my wrist and Narad (a personal voice mobile assistant like Alexa or Siri) annoyed the hell out of me. People are tracked and monitored constantly. But the environment in Delhi had gone from bad to unliveable. Rich people lived in insulated homes with artificial air purifiers, while the poor were left to the dumps, as always. The politicians still banked on religion to create the divide and rule policy, but now they were tech savvy and used technology to influence and control people and their power. Everything about this futuristic world made me shudder and I pictured a very Ready Player One kind of dusty setting in my mind. I didn’t want to live in a world like this, I thought.
I enjoyed the author’s writing style too. It takes a little bit of time and effort to get accustomed to the sci-fi jargons, but once you’ve got it, its a fast paced narrative that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to end.
My only disappointment with this book was the character arcs which left to a lot of unanswered plot lines. Some characters who had a lot of narrative time in the beginning of the book, were dumped suddenly. Whereas, new characters who would play a pivotal role towards the ending of the story, were introduced too late in the book. The only character I could feel for was Zoey. I wanted to know more about what happened to Indi, or if Chopra got caught. I wanted more scenes with Uma and Zaria. And Rudra was the biggest disappointment for me in terms of the characters in the story.
I think most of the readers have already reached out to the author to release a sequel to the book, narrated by Zaria, tackling all the questions we have. I for one will surely read that 😉 I hope Samit Basu is reading this..heheh 🙂
I would recommend this book, for its entertaining and refreshing style of writing and context, and the fact that its a dystopia without a sad ending. From the longest titles that I’ve read so far, I’m ranking this second to Djinn Patrol, which is first on my ranking list :).