WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4.5/5
Mainak Dhar is the poster boy of Indian zombie fiction and he writes with finesse; always taking the reader by surprise and always delivering more than expectation. So when I sat down with “03:02”, I assumed it was another one of his classic zombie novels which I have come to love so much. I was quite wrong, though, as this is definitely post-apocalyptic but not in the traditional sense. This is about an EMP attack and it is in more than one ways quite similar to a zombie apocalypse. Have I heard of this concept? Yes, I have in another novel which I read last year, but what matters here is not the novelty of the concept but the novel altogether. Still, I am sure that for most of my Indian readers this will be a relatively new and interesting concept.
On an otherwise pleasant Sunday morning, the world as we know it comes to a halt. All technology ceases to exist and with it, the world is turned black. The time when it happens is 03:02 am and that is how the book was named. Where there were systems and law, there is only chaos. I don’t want to write more about it for the risk of spoilers, but it is sufficient to say that civilisation has taken a very dangerous route, a route which may cause its extinction altogether.
Courage and bravery are children of distress and war, and war it is. Along with the fear of the unknown, also comes the courage to fight back and to hold on to whatever little of the old world remains. I know I am sounding cryptic but this is much better than giving away the surprise element. The writing style of Mainak Dhar, as always, is action packed and fast paced. There is hardly a dull moment in the entire novel, and once hooked, you can be assured of sailing through right till the end. The plot is closely knit and has a singular focus. It is so gripping that you will find it impossible to put it away. At every turn there are surprises and at every corner, there is a sense of dread and adventure – a sure shot recipe for a thrilling bestseller.
The characters are genuine and realistic and as you progress in the novel, they seem to grow on you. A special treat for all the Mumbaites is the Mumbai setting. 100% of the action takes place between a few Mumbai suburbs and the domestic and international airport. There is a little bit of drama and romance as well but that is a welcome addition and in the end not that overpowering to take the thrill and the pace away from the novel. The climax is also inspiring and well written. In the end, it does good justice to the exceptionally well-written story.
I would, therefore, recommend “03:02” to not just lovers of fast action paced novels but to all my readers for this book is a perfect example of a well-knitted plot, detailed storyline, powerful characters and careful execution. I thus end this review by rating this book four and a half out of five stars and thereby recommending it to all my readers.
Also, check out my youtube review of the same.