Imagine a world where everyone can be gifted with a superpower that corresponds with their most deep seated wishes and desires. This was the weld dreamed up in Samit Basu’s novel Turbulence, as a number of people are gifted with amazing and often frightening powers. Now imagine a world where super heroism has taken over and runs amok across the world causing destruction and deaths in the millions. This is the world envisioned by Basu in his sequel Resistance, a taut science fiction novel which hearkens back to the graphic novels of old in a new and energising way.
The story of Reisistance picks up many years after Turbulence and the world is a very different place following the emergence of superpowers. Aman Sen has faked his death and is hiding from the world, while Uzma and her powers of persuasion now heads up the original superhero team from a new headquarters in New York. Both however are in danger as Tokyo based businessman Hisatomi seeks to level the playing field between humans and the empowered through use of his amazing mechanical titans and his own special team in the form of Team ARMOR. Elsewhere, in the war torn and ravaged land of India, the child Kalki is still in hiding, bearing god-like powers that could save the world or destroy it completely. Meanwhile precognitive and magicians everywhere are receiving warnings that the world’s end is imminent and there is nothing anyone can do to stop it!
As far as the storyline goes there is a lot to digest in Basu’s sequel, realigning plot threads from his previous work and also spawning new ones as he introduces new conflicts into his vision of a super powered future. While we applaud him for creating such a well realised world we have to admit there were times where we were left feeling lost as the novel relies heavily on stablished facts from the previous book. This does mean to get the most out of this story you will need to read the previous story, so something of a rundown of the previous book would not have gone amiss and would have helped newcomers to the series.
In terms of characters we were very impressed with what we saw as everyone the author created seemed wonderfully organic on the page. This shifted the narrative to focus on a human story that just happens to have more fantastical elements than in other fiction. While there are action scenes aplenty we were not left wanting as the characters opened up in quieter moments and we got to see more about who they are. In particular this helped to flesh out the slightly more villainous Hisatomi as we got to explore his culture and his need for revenge against the empowered humans of his world. There were a few points where character progression seemed to come out of nowhere but these did not take too much away from the characters who we slowly fell in love with as the story continued.
Speaking of action we were amazed by the description of Basu’s battle sequences which took on a new kind of life as we read them. They were deeply cinematic in scope and played that way to us while we read the story and it provided a sense that made this book a multifaceted master stroke for the author. At times we were occasionally lost as there was so much going on at once but overall we were impressed by the ambition and scope of each action sequence which really made this both a drama and an action thanks to Basu’s masterful command of language.
If we have to pick up on one thing to harp on it would have to be the slightly alien quality of the world presented in Resistance. While the previous instalment was set in a more contemporary world this second novel was set well over a decade later with technology moving on and a world transformed by super powered individuals. This meant there were lots of new inventions and concepts which felt great but took a while to understand which did occasionally break immersion and left us scratching our heads. That said the presentation of the world is well done and while we didn’t understand some aspects to it we were largely impressed with what we saw and can’t wait to see what Basu does next in this world.
Altogether Resistance is a great take on modern portrayals of super-powers. While it is a book as opposed to a graphic novel it does not suffer from the lack of images and indeed allows a reader a closer look into the mindset and personalities of the characters. This makes Basu’s work stand out both in terms of character development and action as it shows a progression from beginning to end that worked very well. We do recommend this, and Basu’s previous book to anyone who has a love of the more serious side of super heroism.
Resistance will be available from Amazon and iTunes from 11 July 2014