Both the ‘title’ and ‘cover page’ of 03:02 by Mainak Dhar grabs your interest. Importantly, the blurb of this book is also interesting enough to catch the attention of the readers. Well! All of these certainly caught mine and I became really excited when I got a chance to read this book. The story starts with a bang. Aditya, the main lead of this novel, wakes up at 03:02 a.m. to find complete darkness not only in his flat, but also in the city of Mumbai. Assuming this darkness as a sign of a normal power cut, Aditya goes back to sleep. However, his waking up in the morning does not change anything. It was not a normal power cut. Electric power was still not back. On top of that, even automobiles and mobiles had stopped working. In fact, all types of communication systems had collapsed. What was going on? Later on, people come to know that some sort of electromagnetic pulse blast had brought everything to standstill. Terrorists were behind this blast and this blast had left people stranded all over the world. How different people come together and fight against this act of terrorism make the rest of the story.
For much of the first half of the book, 03:02 lived up to my expectation. However, slowly but steadily, my interest and enthusiasm about the plot started to diminish increasingly. In other words, this is a book which begins with a lot of promise but started to fizzle out in the middle. This was a story which had all the potential of becoming a great read. Unfortunately the story collapses under its own weight at the end. Instead of enhancing the plot, the author went for an unrealistic lead. The main protagonist of this book was my main problem. He is a person who can do almost everything in the real world, and this is what killed the soul of the plot for me. There is no harm in taking liberty as far as fiction is concerned but the events the author is describing should be believable or convincing up to a certain point. Instead of focusing on one central lead, I would have liked the author to have several key characters involved in various sub-plots. This would have helped in readers getting involved in the story from different points of view. Additionally, I am an avid reader of thrillers, and I just didn’t quite feel any thrill reading this book. It wasn’t as exciting and gripping as it was purported to be in the beginning.
The ending of the book also leave you frustrated. Reading this ending is like watching the climax of a Bollywood/Hollywood movie. The writing is good but the pace of the story could have been better. The book also fails to induce emotions in the readers. A number of people die in the book but you (as a reader) don’t feel connected to any of these deaths. Readers should be touched or moved by the incidents taking place in the book. There is also a romantic angle in the plot. However, this too seems to be included just for the sake of including and nothing else.
For a long time, I kept oscillating between ‘Two’ and ‘Three’ stars for this book. Finally, I have decided to give it ‘Three stars’, keeping the ‘cover page’ and ‘blurb’ in mind.