Book review | Pokhran by Uday Singh


Author: Uday Singh

Genre: Political thriller

No. of pages: 194

Published by: Srishti Publishers

Published on: 15th July 2020

Format: Paperback

My rating: ★★★★☆

The success of the ‘Smiling Buddha’ nuclear test marked the rise of India as a nuclear power in 1974. But what went unreported in the media was the nuclear fallout that had lasting impact on the inhabitants of Pokhran, especially Chaitanya.

It quickly becomes clear that the conspiracy surrounding this radioactive fallout runs pretty deep in the establishment. Those who have had a hand in covering it up are willing to go to great lengths to ensure that the secrets stay buried.

Chaitanya sets on a journey to expose the truth. With Zara by his side, he is sure to bring justice to his people. But when fate snatches Zara away from him, he is consumed by revenge. Undeterred by threats, he embarks on a mission that takes him from the deserts of Pokhran to those of Syria, and into the halls of MIT.

A heady page turner, at its very core, Pokhran is an exceptional journey of revenge, courage, love and the unbeatable human spirit.

This thriller is based on the premise of the first successful nuclear weapon test in Pokhran in the year 1974. The author has spun an interesting plot around this historic event. In Pokhran, a year after the nuclear testing, Chaitanya is born to the chief engineer of canal development and his wife. Unfortunately, there was a secret nuclear fall out, that caused many children in and around Pokhran to be born with deformities, and Chaitanya was one of them.

Chaitanya grows up in a household that supports science, technology and education. A smart and intelligent Chaitanya becomes a young boy who emanated wit and a heart of goodwill. When Chaitanya's father tries to uncover the secrets of the nuclear fallout that caused Chaitanya's deformities, he is killed by political goons. Fearing for his life, Chaitanya flies to the States, and becomes an esteemed professor in MIT, Chicago. 

It is there that Chaitanya comes across Zara, a fierce fighter for social rights for Yazidi refugees. Some devastating turn of events cause Chaitanya to focus all his goals towards the development of Pokhran, even if it means giving up his own life.

This book had a perfect pace, and a gripping storyline. It's gets straight to the point, does not get too technical or political like most political crime thrillers that I've read. I loved how the story captured my attention from the prologue itself. As the story start, there's a air of mystery around the Pokhran nuclear tests. As the story progresses, it makes the reader curious about what is about to come.

There's quite a number of twists. It makes you reread the page so that you make sure that the incident did happen. And these twists come quite out of the blue. You'll be surprised by them. I really liked how the story stays true to the genre of thriller, even though in the middle of the story the book takes a romantic turn. It was brought balance to the book, even though I admit I personally don't like romance being brought in a thriller novel. 

The ending kind of fell flat. I would have rather have a 50 more pages added to make it more suspenseful. It somehow felt a bit rushed. Chaitanya's motives behind what he was doing was good and honest, but I wanted to see a bit action and some chilling plot twist considering it's a thriller. The book has a lot of potential and I'm eager to see what more the author has in store.

The narration is very crisp and to the point. The sentences were short and to the point. The dialogues in the books could have been a bit better, but overall I loved how the story progresses with the simple and lucid descriptive. 

Uday is a philosopher, economist, and engineer with a firm belief in the progressive march of humanity towards a better and brighter future. He has travelled and lived across countries and continents, which has given him a unique outside-in perspective on India.
With a Masters of Business Administration from Columbia University, when he is not writing, he works at an investment bank in New York city and likes to spend time with his family in Princeton, New Jersey.

I received a copy of the book in exchange of an honest and unbiased review. 


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