Book Review: Turbulence / Author: Samit Basu / Publisher: Titan Books / Format: Paperback / Release Date: July 6th
Perhaps the barmiest way to stop a super-strong, invulnerable supervillain comes from Turbulence (which sounds like a cheap airport thriller but really isn’t), the new book from Indian author Samit Basu. True, the solution wasn’t used in the end, but it was still daft. One of the characters suggests talking to the supervillain’s mother and getting her to convince him to stand down. (It makes sense in context.)
The book follows Aman Sen, a young Indian lad who gets off a plane and realises that he can access anything with a wireless connection by thinking about it. Rather than using this as the ultimate in “discreet” browsing to watch some mind-blowing stuff, he gets together a superpowered team to fight an air force Colonel by the name of Jai. Jai’s the super-strong, invulnerable man mentioned above, who wanted to be the greatest warrior ever and got powers that could further that aim.
Obviously they weren’t the only ones on that plane. Over 400 passengers were on the flight and all of them gained superpowers that on some subconscious level they’d desired for years. Fortunately, none of them seem to suffer from the “Claire Bennet Syndrome”, a made-up disease where a character has an awesome power and does nothing but complain about it. The ones with the good powers enjoy the living hell out of them and for the most part, the ones doing the complaining are the ones with the genuinely useless superpowers. To give you an example of a bad power, one character can control others by talking to them, which sounds great until you realise it’s only used once or twice intentionally and it doesn’t work one of those times.
As you may have noticed from the repeated use of the word “Indian” in this review and the presence of decidedly Indian names, there is a distinct air of the subcontinent coming from every page of this book. A large section of it takes place in India before the action moves to the exotic locale of… West London. It’s a bit disconcerting to be reading about superheroes knocking each other about in places that are so close to home but also strangely more exciting.
Had Turbulence been in any other medium, it would’ve sunk without a trace in a sea of such concepts. Because it’s a book, it uses the full power of the written word to take to the skies and give lesser books what for. It is somewhat self-referential, inventive and very clever. But most of all, it is fun. If you have ever picked up a comic book and enjoyed it, then this is a must-buy.