WRITING STYLE: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3/5
A spy, a catch and an unforgettable monsoon.
Divided into 20 chapters, One Monsoon in Mumbai opens with a map of Mumbai highlighting seven particular locations on it. These include Panvel, Kurla, Grant Road, Nariman Point, The Oberoi Hotel, Colaba and Cuffe Parade Gateway of India.
It instantly gives the impression that the story is set in and around locales of Mumbai city.
Seema, the lead character is on a chase. She’s investigating things while trying hard to escape from the prying eyes of the minister’s entourage. But Seema has a dark past.
“Seema Rawat, former urchin from the slums of Mumbai, would have to remain the innocent from the hills of Himachal Pradesh, arrived in the big, bad city a few years back.”
In her childhood, she was raised in a slum and then for a year was taught how to read, write, bathe and keep her nails clean. She was then moved to an all-girls institution with the warning not to let out her background details to anyone.
Accused of theft, it was one of the first incidents in her life when her class background and social status came in way of suspecting her as the culprit only to be proven innocent immediately afterwards.
Sandwiched between school and self-defence classes were Sundays when she spent her time with her auntie (who turns out to be a major complication in the story) at the movie theatre.
They danced to Hindi numbers while she grew up with a love for mathematics making her earn two masters degrees in Math and cryptology and security. Working to expose tax fraud was her latest assignment.
Accompanying the lead character Seema is Adith Verma, graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai and the assistant manager in the India division of Imperium Technologies, one of the world’s largest cybersecurity firms. He is the handsome son of India’s finance minister and her charming target in the operation of Mission: One Monsoon in Mumbai.
They do not exactly share a strong bond or chemistry but rather they have a healthy professional rivalry that makes the story interesting. His story begins only in the second chapter and together with Seema’s makes for a semi lead or character in a supporting role.
The major flaw in One Monsoon in Mumbai is in its extreme movement between the before and after scenes. Every chapter is very lengthy and has multiple angles to it that is unbound and feels a tad bit disconnected to the main narrative until read through completely.
The story moves backwards and forwards in time at an uneven rate. It can be difficult to keep up with such a jumpy pace but once the reader gets a hang of the main plotline then things build on and get really fascinating.
The plot is not cliched or repetitive. It has a freshness that is rarely met with from a debut novel writer. It flows with ease into the nooks and crannies of the multiple climaxes within the novel.
The manner of relaying the story adds to the freshness of the plot. The narrative style is mostly in prose but at times it comes to relate text messages that are written in between the prose plotline. The SMS is put in square boxes and is given a distinct space in the plot as they convey important information.
One of the minor climaxes then is the text exchanges that anticipates more cryptic information to come ahead in the forthcoming chapters.
Besides Seema and Adith, the plot is congested with a few other characters all of whom have a role to play in taking the story further ahead. A new character is introduced in almost every other chapter.
The chapters only come with being numbered and they do not have any individual titles given to them. There is also the use of humour in the novel but it is neither overpowering nor damaging. It has its own subtle and sarcastic ways to function.
At times the content can be a bit explicit but nothing over to the top. There is a good balance of humour, characterisation and plot build-up.
Apart from the text message exchanges a lot of the story is relayed through dialogues. At heart, the book is a light romance. The dialogues are well constructed, at times explicit and add dimension to the characters who bring forth events through their own ways of narrating. It is like hearing of suspense-filled events straight from the horse’s mouth.
The author also has a lot of taste for giving international exposure to the reader but keeping Mumbai at the centre. There is the inclusion of technology in the text that works as the right hand of the characters and helps them navigate through the climaxes swiftly.
At 318 pages, the book is a lengthy and time-consuming read that will appeal to those who enjoy reading thrillers, detective novels regarding big shots and crime fictions. It is a page-turner for those who enjoy romantic novels with thrilling twists.
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