Book Review: Turbulence by Samit Basu

Turbulence by Samit Basu, Titan Books, 7th July, £7.99.

Superheroes fascinate us; they are fictional creations who live the lives that we can only dream of.  Whether it’s having the ability to fly or being the strongest person in the world there will always be stories created where normal human beings become extraordinary, in Turbulence Samit Basu takes us into the world of superheroes that may not have a clue what they are doing, but may just save the world.

When passengers on a plane heading from London to Delhi arrive at India they suddenly find that their world has changed; they now have super powers.  One finds himself to be a communications demigod, another can fly and has the strength of Superman and one woman finds she has the ability to copy herself at will, it’s all very X-Men.  For every superhero though there is of course their nemesis, the people who decide with their new powers they want to take over the world.  Suddenly India and the United Kingdom become the focus of the entire world’s attention as the two groups of super power endowed citizens fight it out for the future of civilisation.

To just fall into a cliché like calling this novel “X-Men gone Bollywood” would be a disservice really, this is more than just an X-Men story set in India; even if it does have a definite Bollywood flair to it.  The characters created feel more human and fleshed out that your normal superhero type; half of them don’t even want to have the powers, even if they do make good use of them.  What the author Samit Basu creates on the page are a bunch of madcap characters that are actually instantly likable.  They are flawed and are confused about their situation but they know they are now special.  They’ve been pulled into a world where they actually fear for their lives just because they are now different.

There feels to be a constant struggle in the novel for the characters to stay out of the inevitable battle that is going to erupt, yet of course they end up stumbling straight into it.  The line between who is good and who is evil is also very grey as even when they feel they are doing good for the world the actions have unseen consequences, it is indeed a case of with great power comes great responsibility.  If anything this is very much an X-Men style story, and can’t help but be influenced by the popular Marvel and DC characters that is such a big part of pop culture.

I do have to admit to liking Samit Basu’s style.  A lot of the times he manages to pull humour into what are quite serious scenes; his comic timing especially with his characters is quite excellent.  It does take some time to get used to at first but once it finally catches you you’ll be glued to the page wanting to know where it is going.  Even though I did compare the novel to the X-Men Basu has definitely got his own flair for the extraordinary, for every character that can easily be compared to Superman or Iron Man as examples there are characters who have unique powers not seen before, like the ability to become an anime character, I won’t say much about anime it’s much more fun reading about her and what she can actually do.

As a superhero fan I feel lucky to have been able to review this and I would recommend it to anybody who has been enjoying films such as X-Men: First Class and The Avengers, there is a real spark of imagination in Turbulence and I’d say that some of the writers for the big companies should look at these characters Samit Basu created and look at getting them in comic form, or even onto the big screen, it would be quite an epic tale to see.

 Turbulence by Samit Basu is released 7th July courtesy of Titan Books, £7.99.

To win a copy of Turbulence, please tweet the link to this review along a description of the most original super hero you can conceive to @Titanbooks #Turbulence. Samit’s ten favourite heroes will win.

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