Chosen Spirits by Samit Basu
Price: Rs. 250 INR(Kindle Edition)
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She’d decided, that night, that she wouldn’t leave. That she would stay in India, in Delhi, and belong as hard as she could.
Joey is a Reality Controller, in charge of the livestream of a charismatic and problematic celebrity insmog-choked, water-short, ever-transforming Delhi — a city on the brink of revolution, under the shadow of multiple realities and catastrophes — at the end of the 2020s.
When Joey impulsively rescues a childhood friend, Rudra, from his new-elite family and the comfortable, horrific life they have chosen for him, she sets into motiona chain of events — a company takeover, a sex scandal, a series of betrayals — that disintegrates not just their public and private selves, but the invisible walls that divide the city around them.
To find the lives they need, Joey and Rudra must reckon with people and forces beyond their understanding, in a world where trust is impossible, popularity is conformity,and every wall has eyes.
About the author:
Samit Basu is the author of the Gameworld trilogy of fantasy novels, the Turbulence series of superhero novels, and the Adventures of Stoob seriesof children’s books. He’s written bestsellers, won awards, and been published in multiple countries and languages. Basu is also the co-writer/director of a Netflix film, a comic writer and columnist.
My take on the book:
Joey the most popular reality controller of Delhi, handles the Flows of her ex-boyfriend Indie, who is a top Flower but also has his own share of controversies. When she attends the condolence meet of her family friend Rajat Gupta, Joey hires Rajat’s younger son Rudra in the spur of the moment as their Flow editor and unknowingly gets into a whirlpool of events. Soon, their flow is taken over by Nikhil, Indie and Joey are shamed publicly for an alleged sexual assault by Indie on his old colleague. Rudra’s girlfriend Tara wants to establish herself as a star Flowstar and help Rudra get back to his family. Zaria a controversial public figure who recently joined their Flow Co. has her own plan behind the scenes. How does Joey stay afloat amidst all these complications forms the rest of the story.
Chosen Spirits on the surface can be mistaken as a dystopian tale but as the layers are peeled it can be safely concluded as a futuristic story, given the current scenario in the country. There is surveillance everywhere and for everyone — privacy is a long-forgotten phenomenon, the city is filled with smog, there are riots even for daily water. There are no permanent relationships, there is no one truth, everyone has a hidden agenda. Individuals have smartatt’s tattooed on their wrists, with a AI assistant Narad popping up every few seconds. Meetings happen with AR/VR headgears and between virtual avatars. Instead of making individuals happy and content, this lifestyle only makes them insecure and wary of everyone around them.
The author’s imagination of where current technology and societal attitude can lead this country is incredible. Even the story telling style and narration are unique as the story breaks all clichés. The ending can be underwhelming for those expecting the story to follow the norm, but this book proves not every story is meant to have a happily ever after or a tangible achievement of the protagonist; there are couple of threads left open by the author for the reader to conclude. Every character that comes up in the story has some significance and have a part to play in the bigger picture.
The satire behind the entire concept is on point, so is the trend of Realtime Flowing where real life is all a staged act, carefully written and enacted. The struggle for fame, power and to bring out their version of truth by each of the characters is the key takeaway from the story. However, this one is not for those who would be offended at the drop of a hat; as there is an extra dose of sarcasm rolled smartly into the narration. Unique, innovative and honest, Chosen Spirits is a must read for all those who appreciate original content.