October 22, 2014

Book review: God is a Gamer

'God is a gamer' is a fast-paced one-go-read set in the present-day context. The story pitches on the complex and cacophonic patterns of the boundary-less world we live in. Most of the main elements of the book are all laid out on the front and back covers of the book: Bitcoin (first alternative digital decentralized currency), ancient-method-murders, politics, vengeance, gaming, banking among others. Ravi Subramanian (the author) skilfully leverages current popular themes like IT, hacking, phishing, gaming, social media which not just adds jus to the story but fastens to audience for it reflects the temper of our times.

The Thrill: In line with his earlier books, this one too is set in the backdrop of a foreign bank in India primarily and ties in characters from outsourcing and gaming businesses, politics, Bitcoin founders etc., The binding character of the story – Gillian, a US Senator and close aide of the US President gets introduced as the key political influencer. He helps the chiefs of the financial transaction processing giants like Visa, Mastercard to suppress competition in Russia (NCPS) and in return gets them to oblige the US government request to cut all donations/ payments to Wikileaks through their systems.

The story steps up with a rapid-tale  of Gillian’s assassination; then flow in the rest of actors Swami, Aditya, Sundeep (three friends who started together at NYIB), Malvika (CEO of NYIB), Varun (Aditya’s son who was separated due to divorce and is united back after his mother’s death), Tanya (Malvika’s daughter, co-founder of Bitcoin and Gillian’s lover), Nikki (Gillian’s wife, introduced earlier during Gillian’s assassination plot), Gloria (Nikki’s daughter and step-daughter to Gillian, Varun's lover), the Bitcoin (fictitious) founders all knitted together in a business-families' act. 

Ravi keeps you glued to the story with more murders, lovers’ plans gone bad, wee bit of sex and drugs, a corporate management lesson here and there, an ATM heist, terrorism plot, and few other conspiracies. Interesting as they are, picking on elements laid out on book cover and your own interpretation; you might actually start predicting the finale after two-thirds of a read but Ravi doesn't fail to keep you glued on. Ravi’s own interpretation of Satoshi Nakamoto – Bitcoin founders and how the team came together is quite good, which is one of strong pillars to the overall story. 

The end, like an Indian-Bollywood movie is melodramatic (played out in a Mumbai police station by an ACP, an FBI and CBI director respectively with all of above living characters). With the international touch-up in characters, we also have Keats and Socrates referenced to in this part of the story where the murder mysteries are unraveled... Thankfully, the epilogue covers up for it tells you what the story wasn't. The number of characters might appear a tad conspicuous but Ravi makes up a wind-up for each giving them enough coverage. 

The Dampeners: 
  • If you are a tech/BPO pro, you would certainly have a good laugh for the story descriptions greatly undermine the security encryption in banks and their vendors’ (outsourcing companies’) systems descriptions. 
  • If that wasn't enough, the auto-generating malware even when the computer is shutdown will certainly raise your eyebrows!
  • Of all the characters, I personally feel bad for Swami for his role didn't live up to any purpose in the whole story. Was he required at all, and his murderers? 
  • The FBI realize they didn't really solve the Cotton trail mystery but agree to ignore it, cos they would look like idiots. (ROFL... yea.. that’s what I did)
Last word: The author has cleverly written this story in the very current world setting instead of creating something anew to engage his audience. Claimed to be the first Bitcoin thriller, Ravi, using his ages of talent in banking gives the audience a peek into (his imaginative) potential of Bitcoin and its possibilities of its ab/use. Perhaps not as mystifying as one might expect it to be, it certainly doesn't fail to thrill you. After you've turned the last page, you would have felt entertained and a little bit more informed (if you didn't know much about Bitcoin, that is) if nothing else. 

I rate this book a 7.5/10.

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