From the darkness within: The Antagonists by Tina Biswas

About the Book:

I am one of you . . . that is why I, and only I, can be trusted to do what is good for you. 

January 12, 2013. Sachin Lohia, billionaire businessman, has just woken up to a nightmare. A raging fire in his hospital. Over hundred people dead. Journalists demanding answers. And worst of all, the chief minister of West Bengal, the formidable Devi, calling him a murderer. Hot-headed and stubborn, Devi doesn't bother with formalities or facts. 

Her people are baying for blood, and Sachin is the perfect scapegoat. But will her schemes bring about his downfall or will she be the one to get hurt in this battle of wits? Seamlessly melding the personal and the political, this is a darkly satirical story of clashing egos, fatal misunderstandings, and dangerous self-deception. Irreverent, incisive, occasionally scabrous, and always bold, The Antagonists shines a light on the murky world of politics

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After a long while I managed to get my hands on a book that promised to be a roller coaster ride and man, what a terrific ride it was till the last page! Though as a genre this was new for me, but was totally worth the risk. With a plot that can be considered bold and enthrally, Tina Biswas delivers a complete page turner with this book. 

Starting with the cover which is minimalist and yet manages to convey so much - the story is exactly similar. It can interpreted and understood in so many different ways just like its characters. Devi, Sachin, Dr. Anima - they all come in shades of grey making it difficult for you to tag them into one category. And that is exactly where the 'wow' element lies on this story. Every page has a new surprise, a new twist and a new angle to the plot. Nail-biting to say the least, the narrative had many scenes which gave me goosebumps. I enjoy reading fast paced thrillers and this one was a page turner till the end.  

Weaving across a plethora of socio-political themes, interspersed with suspense and thrill, The Antagonists is a riveting read. The flow of the story is one that catches your attention from the word go and refuses to leave you even after you have finished the book. Is it a true story? Are these characters inspired by some real life people? Do people in positions of power really behave like this? Is common man his own responsibility and nobody else's? - are some of the questions that haunted me while I read the book.

What do you do when all that you believed in suddenly seems like a lie? 
What would you choose if asked to choose between your mind and your heart? 
What do you do when you are cornered with a mistake committed unwittingly? 
How do you bear the repercussions of a decision taken on an impulse?
What extent can you go to stand true to your ethics and values?

The author has interlaced humour and sarcasm amidst the dark story of desires and ambitions with a political backdrop. Written in an inimitable style which is extremely unique, Tina Biswas wins hearts with this narrative. Her characters are too real and startlingly selfish at a lot of places. Each one of them brings forth a new dimension in the narrative, tagging along a new aspect of the system. It is a rare thing to have multiple characters and ensure each one of them does complete justice to the story. That is where this book earns an extra brownie point. Every action, every dialogue, every character and every move is thoroughly justified, not a single thing is out of place. The narrative is taut and crisp, not leaving any extra frills which could have been a dampener in the story.

The language at few places could have been more lucid making it easier for a reader to follow the high octane action happening in the scene. Also, some scenes seemed to drag a bit, making the narrative slow. However, this doesn't take away anything from the charm of an exceptionally well told story.

Her writing prowess is such that it makes the scenes come alive. You can almost smell the burnt remains in the air in the opening scene when the author begins to describe the fire at the hospital. After a point, you are almost chasing the story, trying to keep up with what is happening and not miss out on any further excitement coming up your way.

The Antagonists is an engaging read with a refreshing style of narrative. For starters the main point of difference that causes the rift is actually highlighted in the first chapter itself. However, it is done in a manner that it can easily go unnoticed till you are almost half way through the book. And there, you have a BOOM moment when you are able to connect all the dots and realize how beautifully the plot has been woven. For someone who likes to avoid politics in every form, this story won my heart on many fronts. Impressive plot, mesmerizing story telling and stupendous narrative - this book is simply brilliant in everything.

Overall, strongly recommended for the sheer thrill ride this one promises to be till the very end!