PLOT: 2/5 CHARACTERS: 2.5/5 WRITING STYLE: 2/5 CLIMAX: 2.5/5 FINAL VERDICT: 2/5
In my career as a book reviewer, there have been many books that ‘scream scandal’. The only reason; the only motivation to pick them up has come from their scandalous titles and covers. I have had my fair share of such reads and have had a mix of experiences when it comes to reading these books. While The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo turned out to be a great read, Losing My Virginity and Other Ideas was an utter disappointment.
But enough of dilly-dallying, let’s come to the book in question and the subject of this review – Anuj Tikku’s Assassinating Modi. The premise is both scandalous and rather bold. It takes a good amount of courage to write something like this. But does it live up to the expectations that the blurb and the cover create?
Read on to know about my thoughts on the book and my experience of reading it.
What to expect?
Expect a book that has a decent plot. Expect a book that combines political drama with action and adventure. Expect a short read which is just about sixty-five pages long.
The premise of the book does seem interesting, after all, it’s a political drama ripe with action, mystery, and conspiracy. All of these together create a huge amount of intrigue in the mind of the reader. The cover, too, is bold and captivating. How much of it is actually within the limits of creative liberty is open to discussion and not in my area of expertise. But there is no denying the scandal and intrigue it carries.
Who can read?
The book is written in simple and conversational English and is mildly embellished with rich words. This means it can be easily picked up by a beginner-level reader.
The story as it goes
As India is heading towards the general elections of 2024, people are waiting with bated breaths for the ultimate battle. There is popular consensus amongst voters, after all, their demands have been delivered. But some are not happy and want to stop the Prime Minister at any cost. To thwart BJP’s dream of winning a consecutive third term, they will go to any lengths. Even as far as assassinating him.
Maoists had previously attempted to do so, but they failed miserably. Their plans and aspirations were kept in check by proactive administration and expert intelligence. But this time, it is terror groups from across the border who are baying for the PM’s blood. They are seeking revenge for their earlier failures.
The Prime Minister’s close circle is aware of this imminent threat and his chief security advisor and top aid have devised a full proof plan to ensure his safety at all levels.
But, will that be enough?
Who all are thirsty for the PM’s blood?
Will the cross-border terror groups be successful in their attempt at Assassinating Modi?
The writing style
If there is one thing that strikes you about the writing, it is the boldness with which the book is written. The subject is no doubt scandalous and it really takes a lot of courage to attempt something like this. Again, I am not sure of the legalities and this is strictly a personal opinion.
A confused attempt
One thing that I specifically have to say about the writing style is that the author himself seems to be very confused about the way he wants to take the story forward. Because of this, he ends up mixing non-fiction and fiction elements in the most undesirable manner. In some places, the names of actual persons have been changed (but kept obvious), while at others he resorts to naming real-life events and characters. The overall effect renders the reader very confused about the direction in which the author intends the story to progress.
Is the book really about a plot to assassinate the PM?
Another thing worth mentioning here is that despite being the title and the central plot of the book, almost 70% of the book doesn’t talk about the assassination attempt. The build-up gives us a lot of background, a good deal of information about terror groups, their workings, and a lot of nonfiction factual information regarding the historical, socio-cultural, and political backdrop of the events that lead up to the central plot. But when it comes to chalking out the assassination plot, playing it out in words, weaving it into the story – that doesn’t happen.
In that way, the concept certainly draws the eye but the plot is found lacking. It isn’t a solid plot as it fails to deliver what it promises.
What did I like?
I love how the author gives a lot of background information and history about political assassinations in India and the world. Not only he covers the ground, narrating the assassinations of Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandhi, and Rajiv Gandhi but he also tells a layman reader about their possible causes. There is a generous amount of recent political history especially of India, Pakistan, and their battle for Kashmir. For a layman reader, it sets the stage right for an understanding and appreciation of the plot. Not just that, it also brings about a striking contrast and intermixing of the fiction with the nonfiction.
What I didn’t like?
If there is one thing you can expect from an Anuj Tikku book, it is poor editing. Assassinating Modi is no different from the other books (by the same author) that I have so far read. Not just grammatical issues but Assassinating Modi also has plenty of spelling mistakes that could have been easily avoided through a simple Grammarly check.
What could have been better?
There are many factual errors in the book too. Just to give an example, the author gives the background of famous political assassinations in history and quotes the examples of assassinations of US Presidents, while calling them prime ministers and not presidents. Last I heard, the US never had a Prime Minister.
Let’s talk about characters
I like the way Anuj introduces his characters. The very first character that we meet is Masood Ali, the head of a terrorist outfit, Jaish-e-Ali. This guy is introduced in a fierce, dynamic, and distinct way that immediately sets him apart from other characters. In turn, creating curiosity in the mind of the reader.
How good is the climax?
There is a generous amount of focus on the things and events that lead to the assassination but when it comes to the actual event of assassination, it’s just a buzz kill. At the end of it, the reader doesn’t get much.
It all boils down to the entertainment
When it comes to entertainment, all the hype, all the build-up, is just for show. The book lets you down on many levels. And that’s not a good thing to say about a political thriller cum drama.
In the end
Anuj Tikku’s Assassinating Modi is a desperate attempt to write something scandalous and bold. While the premise holds promise, the writing fails to deliver and live up to the reader’s expectations.
Pick the book if
- You are looking for a short read.
- You are curious about the cover and the title and want to give it a try.
- You are a beginner-level reader in English.
Skip the book if
- You are looking for a decent entertainer.
- You enjoy political thrillers cum dramas.
- You cannot stand poor editing.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Assassinating Modi using the link below.