Book review: Anti-Social Network By Piyush Jha

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The story, as the name and the cover clearly suggest, is a crime-thriller. Based in Mumbai, it takes the reader through the murky world of tech-savvy miscreants who use social networking sites and the Internet for blackmail and ‘sextortion’. Inspector Virkar is the apparent protagonist, and just like all protagonists, he is supposed to solve the riddles in the plot. In this case, it means finding the connection between a string of gruesome murders, and the activities of a bunch of college students-turned-cyber criminals.

Now, it might seem an exaggeration, but it is not: I read the novel, cherished it and really likened it to the mystery thrillers penned by Satyajit Ray. Inspector Virkar is almost like Feluda in his contemporary incarnation.

This novel, at one level also tells the reader how real the threats of privacy and security are, in this age of internet-addiction, thereby giving us goosebumps. I, for example was scared to use my laptop, webcam and so on for days after reading the novel.

The plot has all possible ingredients of a bestseller- a group of college students gone morally decrepit, a psychologist with multiple roles to play, a police system marred by complacency and a hacker, who retains “ethics” in his activities, and deploys his talent to help Virkar.

A hitherto solid, foolproof expert network shatters on the altar of one woman’s revenge and another man’s incessant pursuit of a way beyond the deadlock. With its arcane description of the repugnant crimes, an insight into the threats posed by the virtual world, and an underlying manifestation of a troubled, frail teenage psychology, this book is totally worth the time and money spent on it. The crisp, accurate narrative which has, to the delight of the reader, no verbosity, is a major puller. A lot of colloquial phrases have been used, and this may be liked by some readers, detested by others. And yes, a character to watch out for, Naina our enigmatic psychologist, sarcasm personified!

In the beginning, until the plot settles into a chase, it might appear as if it is an episode straight out of CID. I implore the reader to keep reading and not assume that it is monotonous, because it is worth it!



Kritika Narula

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Journalism has been called the “first rough draft of history”. D.U.B may be termed as the first rough draft of DU history. Freedom to Express.

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