Friday, April 23, 2010

Indiaplaza Editorial Review: Johnny Gone Down by Karan Bajaj

The first review of "Johnny Gone Down" on the internet:

The last time (which incidentally was the first time) Karan Bajaj wrote a book he had a big advantage – no one knew him and there were no expectations. Since then his first novel “Keep off the Grass” went on to reach the semi-finals of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and was also short listed for the Indiaplaza Golden Quill Book Awards 2008 apart from selling several thousand copies and becoming a best-seller.

Karan's latest book is set to make publishing history with a first print run of 50,000 books, billed as one of the biggest ever in India for a work of fiction.The book is published by HarperCollins-India at an affordable price of Rs.99. 'It is the first time HarperCollins-India is aiming to achieve nearly 100,000 copies in a year with the first print run of 50,000 for an Indian author at such an attractive price,' according to Lipika Bhushan, head of marketing at HarperCollins-India.

So, expectations are high as readers look forward to his next novel “Johnny Gone Down” and like they say – the real test of an author is always the second book. Thankfully, Karan Bajaj passes this test with the gripping novel “Johnny Gone Down”. 

The story is about the life and times of the protagonist Nikhil Arya, an MIT graduate with a promising future ahead of him. However a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time turns his life upside down and Nikhil Arya is forced into survival mode as he battles genocide in North Vietnam, experiences Buddhism in Thailand, becomes a drug lord in Brazil and turns into a successful internet entrepreneur in USA – experiences that determine and change his outlook towards life.

 The opening sequence where Nikhil Arya is forced to participate in a game of death by chance in India is raw and powerful and sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Where the book falters is at the end when all loose ends come together almost forcibly and some of it is a bit over the top. Given the global sweep of the plot, one can say that the happenings in Vietnam, Thailand and Brazil are engaging but when the story shifts to the USA, it loses a wee bit of steam.

 Karan Bajaj displays the same crisp writing style that was the hallmark of “Keep off the Grass” earlier although the plotline is eerily similar – Ivy League graduate getting involved in drugs, meditation, and violence – and one looks forward to a complete departure in his next book.

Note: Every review on is written by a person who has read the book. While we strive to provide a fair and unbiased verdict, every review will have a personal touch and opinion to it. After all, every book experience is a personal one to the reader.


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