Review: God is a Gamer

February 12, 2015

Author: Ravi Subramanian
Publisher: Penguin Books
Year: 2014
ISBN: 9780143421399
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆
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There is a common school of thought that states that, to be able to write fiction in a particular domain, you need to have prior experience in the same. So basically a lawyer is the only person who can write legal thrillers, a World War 2 veteran is the only candidate to write a novel on espionage and so on. While the jury is still very much out on this, what this theory does not state is that not all those who are in a particular field of interest can write an engaging work of fiction on the same.

Which is precisely the problem with Ravi Subramanian’s God is a Gamer. Touted as the world’s first Bitcoin thriller, GIAG is a big letdown given the potentially promising platform it is set upon.

The book opens with a introduction on the U.S. Government’s clampdown on online payments to Wikileaks. A senior U.S. Government official gets bumped off in the next chapter and things are just warming up. Only for God to douse the flames with a big tumbler of water while he is fiddling with his joystick.

What follows next is a mindless menagerie of nymphomaniac Stanford graduates, incompetent high profile bankers turned entrepreneurs, corrupt politicians, stereotypical FBI agents (and their Indian counterparts from the CBI) and a lot of other such people battling each other out to prove who is the dumbest. Add a Manmohan Desai style lost-and-found back-story, some cringe-worthy descriptions of copulation which would win the Bad Sex in Writing awards twice over and, of course, Bitcoin and you have the mess that is GIAG.

There are so many plot holes that you can stitch them all up together to make a mighty fine mosquito net, so many loose ends that you would lose track of time (and probably your mind too) while counting them all. The ending is a satisfaction because the book ends there; the final plot twist is something you would have seen coming 50 pages into the book.

At the cost of repeating myself again, GIAG could have been a much better book. It could have been a riveting commentary on how a virtual currency can empower a much beleaguered organization like Wikileaks to hold its own against the financial and administrative clout of Uncle Sam in the garb of a well-written thriller. It could have taken a journey down the Silk Road, the Deep Web site that serves as the inspiration for the ridiculously named Cotton Trail in the novel, and provided a fascinating picture of the underworld of the World Wide Web.

But, of course, this would have taken months, and possibly years, of research. For someone like Subramanian – who has been averaging a book a year – and his publisher, the time and effort wasn’t worth the wait and so what we have is a half cooked mish-mash of the Jeffrey Archer and John Grisham schools of writing with a preliminary bit of Wikipedia research thrown in. If the only reason you would read this book is because of Bitcoin, you would do better to head to Wikipedia – it would cost you less time and money and you would end up knowing more.

Check out a review of Ravi Subramanian’s The Bankster here

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