Author: Mehul Jangir| Genre: Historical Fiction | Pages: 175
A Soviet Air Force Pilot, Ivsker Vodkech, has a job up his sleeve to deliver German hostages into allied hands at a British Unit in Ghana, South Africa. But they meet a catastrophic sandstorm and what follows after their spacecraft crashes in Sahara desert could endanger the secret mission.
What I liked:
To begin with beginnings, I would like to speak about the cover. It is this crucial aspect of the book that attracted me more than the blurb. The rustic look and feel is quite a charm to the eyes of a reader who is a lover of all things historical. It will surely gain a lot of readers who like unconventional book covers.
The story is an anthology of very short chapters, laced with detailed descriptions of the events. Each chapter written from a first person POV of the different characters makes it all the more interesting. It helps understand what each person (stuck in a different circumstance) plans and plots. The best part being it does not impact the reader’s experience, for the author has taken care to not disrupt the flow of the book.
The story gains momentum after about chapter 2 and there’s building up of unprecedented excitement that hurtles the story when more than a few people (who are after the group with a motive to fail the mission) show up into the plot. The projection of violence when Ivsker is captured or the savage killings of innocent people by Amid made my skin crawl. But when it is about survival, everything is fair. I like how the author has exploited the Darwinian theory.
What could be better:
A young and trusted pilot of the Soviet Air Force is assigned the task of a very crucial nature, but very little is outlined about his character. I also felt his efforts in protecting the hostages were bleak, given the magnitude of the task that lay on his shoulders. Rest of the characters hardly have a foothold in the plot.
The plot is quite simple compared to what the blurb promises. There isn’t much action, as one would like to believe reading the blurb, but the story goes on at a relatively smooth pace. I did not know what I expected but I sure wanted more dynamism on the plot part.
Being a lover of history, this is where I was disappointed the most. The plot has next to zero historic references; except for bleak mentions of Hitler in a couple of instances. Even in terms of the setting, it can only very loosely, be tied back to WWII. If you are a history buff like me, trust me, the content won’t satisfy your palate
All that said, it is the abrupt ending that reduced the excitement to dust. It was as though, the author had not at all planned it. I can easily forego the shortfalls because that is how you feel after you turn the last page. Knowing that there is a second book that would hopefully do justice to the insufficiencies of this one, leaves me less irked of the downers I survived.
Impeccable writing with flawless descriptions proves the astronomical amount of research the author has actioned in the penning of this book. If a 12 year-old writer can write a book of such ingenious quality, there is a lot to learn for most debut authors of our age.
Read more about the author, Mehul Jangir.
If you happen to read ‘Survival Sandstorm: The Journey that Changed the Course of World War II’ or have already read it, do share your thoughts below.
P.S: I received a review copy from the author but the review remains unbiased.