Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: Johnny Gone Down - Karan Bajaj

Bored of reading romantic stories? Want to read something ‘out-of-the-box’? Ever thought, what would happen if you step out of your comfort zone for a long, long time? Ever wondered what would happen if you lose your identity? Ever tried reading ‘Johnny Gone Down’ by Karan Bajaj? If not, heck, ever tried Googling about the same?

Karan Bajaj, after phenomenal success of “Keep off the grass” came up with “Johnny Gone Down” which tells about a man set out(or forced, perhaps) on a ‘never before’ journey. From experiencing ups and downs in a sinusoidal manner, Karan tells the story about how Nikhil Arya, initially MIT graduate, falls. Blame his destiny or his surprisingly strange decisions.

Identity 1: MIT Graduate – 1975. The protagonist is just about to complete his graduation. Has been recruited in NASA. His friend, Sam tells him about a visit to Cambodia before they begin their boring corporate job. Hesitatingly, he agrees.

Identity 2: Genocide Survivor – 1977. After being abducted by Khmer Rouge members in Phnom Penh and severely tortured for continuous two years, the protagonist loses all hopes of living. He wishes to die. He has been a place, worse than hell, he feels and has no qualms of not being to get to the US for a normal life.

Identity 3: Buddhist Monk – 1978: After surviving luckily (or again destiny, perhaps) he is taken care of in Thailand by the monks. He has lost his arm and looks crumbled. He decides to stay there instead of going back to the US and follows the path of Buddha.

Identity 4: Drug Lord – 1985: After becoming calm and composed, he with his Buddhist friend fly down to Brazil to set up a monastery. After spending some time there, he feels strange, weird and incomplete. He leaves the monastery and sets out introspecting with himself. The protagonist then saves a Drug Lord in small fight in a bar and thus becomes his friend and accountant.

Identity 5: Software Mogul: Thereafter – After helping his Drug lord-cum-friend to find legal way to success and marrying with his love, he is forced to leave Brazil when his friend’s enough become jealous of his success. He meets a pessimist ex-MITian who has lost all hopes of success and works endlessly on a computer wasting time. The protagonist teams up with him and develops a virtual life online software called Another Life and gives away everything after that, yet again.

Identity 6: Deadly Game Fighter: Present Times – Life has come full circle for him as he is returning to India after getting tired of running and giving away everything, to play a deadly game.  The game is simple. Either he survives or he dies.

What events or decisions or thoughts snatched away everything from him and forced him to lead a life like this? What happens after the game? Does he live or Nikhil Arya or Johnny goes down for good? Buy and read the book as soon as possible to know the answers.

The book blew my mind, literally. I never thought any Indian Author would ever be able to come up with a terrific thrilling novel, until I came across this book. You will not want to keep this book down before finishing unless, well, your own life is in trouble.

The book, written in First Person, has in it to make you travel around so many places without letting you step out of your room. The language is way too awesome. The style is thrilling. The ending is superb. The beginning, oh yeah, the beginning was the part when I actually thought, “Is this true? Is this book managing to run adrenaline throughout my body?” The bad part, okay, I read somewhere that a few complained about the book slowing down as more events come into picture. I disagree. But I’d admit that the concept of Another Life, its explanation and the part where Nikhil spends time online on Another Life was a bit sloppy and could’ve been shorter and simplified. Also, many find the book unreal cuz of larger than life events, my question to them is that whether they are sure about the meaning of fiction? The book is written for people to enjoy and to give a huge amount of thrill. And it does not disappoint. You’ll also notice how Nikhil touches life wherever he goes. And also, all these are my personal opinions.

All in all, a great book for all thrill lovers and for those looking for any story sans love. The story will keep you thinking for a long time once you’re done reading it.

Pros: Super story. Terrific writing style. Nikhil’s journey and his survival instincts. Nice and apt ending. THRILL!

Cons: Another Life concept.

Overall: MUST Read. 4/5

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