Turbulence: X-Men in India

Turbulence book review

What is this about?: The X-Men in India. For real. A plane of passengers are all given superpowers on their trip to India. Later, when they land, a few discover that people are after them.

What else is this about?: These characters are finding out who they are, and who they can be in this new world of theirs, and yes, they read a whole heap of comic books along the way.

Stars: 4/5

Blurb: Aman Sen is smart, young, ambitious and going nowhere. He thinks this is because he doesn’t have the right connections–but then he gets off a plane from London to Delhi and discovers that he has turned into a communications demigod. Indeed, everyone on Aman’s flight now has extraordinary abilities corresponding to their innermost desires.

Vir, a pilot, can now fly.

Uzma, an aspiring Bollywood actress, now possesses infinite charisma.

And then there’s Jai, an indestructible one-man army with a good old-fashioned goal — to rule the world!

Aman wants to ensure that their new powers aren’t wasted on costumed crime-fighting, celebrity endorsements, or reality television. He wants to heal the planet but with each step he takes, he finds helping some means harming others. Will it all end, as 80 years of superhero fiction suggest, in a meaningless, explosive slugfest?

Turbulence features the 21st-century Indian subcontinent in all its insane glory–F-16s, Bollywood, radical religious parties, nuclear plants, cricket, terrorists, luxury resorts, crazy TV shows — but it is essentially about two very human questions. How would you feel if you actually got what you wanted? And what would you do if you could really change the world?

Turbulence is such a ride, oh my god. Fun characters and funnier dialogue, I laughed every time I opened this book.

X-Men In India

I love, LOVE that this is set in India, with a cast of Indian characters, including Uzma who is technically a British citizen too. She wants to be a Bollywood actress and when she steps of the flight, she finds everyone so welcoming, so accommodating she can barely contain her delight as well as the numerous offers she’s getting to act.

However, she comes crashing down to earth when she discovers Aman and his motley crew of superheros and they tell her it’s really a superpower that has everyone falling over themselves to make her a star. I guess Uzma is us (readers in way), thrown into this world and trying to make sense of it. She refuses to believe until she comes face to face with Tia, who like Uzma, are the standout characters in this book.

Tia is badass. She can create copies of herself  — so she creates a copy who learns combat, absorbs it back into her and so absorbs what that copy has learned. Like I said, badass. And, she is the one who is the action hero in this by saving the day. 

Aman is the team’s wannabe leader, who can manipulate and use wi-fi signals in a way. Or the internet to put it simply. And he runs around doing exactly what anyone would in a situation like this — transferring money to those who need it, putting the corporate bad guys in their place and trying to put things right in a world that operates on ones and zeros. It’s a heady power, one that convinces him he’s in the right, before Basu brings him back down to earth with the reality of the lives lost and changed in his bid to do good.

These three are the main characters in the book in a way, thrown together to stop a man from taking over the world with his band of superhero followers and of course, an unexpected enemy — what good is an X-Men story without an unexpected enemy?

The dialogue

Sure, Uzma, just — think about what I said, okay? And Tia? You need to be up by lunchtime,” Aman says.

“Why?”

“Because Superman flew into town this evening and we’re meeting him for lunch tomorrow.”

The dialogue is electric. Seriously, this is just funny and somewhat irreverent, which makes the utter seriousness that superheros are taken hilarious. 

And the book delves into that too — comics these days:

Sundar and Bob finally finish pleading their cases to Uzma and ask her to deliver a verdict. Both go off in a huge sulk when Uzma tells them that whoever has read the most superhero comics probably knows best how useful they can be. It turns out that neither has read any at all.

This is part of a scene where Sundar (a genius mad scientist with powers), who believes that comics can help them function and face the world. Bob (controls the weather), however believes their powers are all part of a giant conspiracy, which as you know is pretty damn apt.

I wish more people would take dialogue lessons from Basu. Seriously. 

Character Progression

Uzma is the one that goes through the most complicated, interesting journey here. She begins the book hovering in the background, trying to make sense of herself and these powers she has, and pretty much doubting everyone and everything around her. Given her power, it’s an awesome level of doubt to have and Basu does not pull punches even when she falls in love. The Uzma at the end of the book is a confident woman, taking on the mantle of something she never wanted.

Whew. This is such a ride. SUCH A RIDE. 

10 Comments

  • This book sounds amazing! I can tell by your review that I would totally love Tia. Adding to my TBR now. Great review!

    • Verushka says:

      She’s amazing! And, even though she’s not given nearly enough time, there’s just the right amount of backstory to make you understand her and what drives her. I adore her, seriously.

  • Maria Behar says:

    OH, VERUSHKA!!! This does indeed sound like such a WONDERFUL, HILARIOUS ride!!! I had not heard of this book before, so THANKS for putting it on my radar! I LOVE the combination of X-Men in India! Well, it was about time we had something like this!! I’m adding this one to my Goodreads shelves right away! Thanks for sharing!! Hope you’re having a GREAT day, or night, as the case may be. Lol.

    • Verushka says:

      It’s so funny and snarky, and just like you said, wonderful. The characters just jump off the page, so I’m hoping you and everyone else get a chance to read it. (and thank you, I was asleep and did have a good night!)

  • Oh man, this sounds awesome! I’ve never heard of this book but I love things about superheroes or people with powers. I need this one!

  • Why haven’t I heard of this book? It sounds amazing. I love all things superhero and the setting is great. Great review!

  • This sounds incredible. If I wasn’t already sold by “X-men in India” then the descriptions of Uzma and Tia (especially Tia’s powers) would’ve completely sealed the deal. Based on the excerpts you shared I have to agree: the dialogue is absolutely electric! Thanks so much for putting this on my radar, Verushka!

    • Verushka says:

      I love it to bits with all it’s crazy good writing, snark and humour. And in between it all, there are these gorgeous characters, just trying to figure themselves out. Sighs. Can we not get a movie of this too, please?

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