A reporter doing her best to save her publication, a poor mother looking to provide her child with the best, alien overlords that are to be fought, a woman retracing her steps to recall her memories, two clans at war since time unknown, a has-been writer trying to reclaim his lost glory, and a rebel group of blind people being the only hope for this planet; this is one way you can sum up ‘Illusions of Control’ by debutante author Mahesh Ratnam Rajan, but there is so much more to it.
This book has been one of the best reads of the year. Conceived during the global pandemic, Mahesh Rajan’s debut anthology collection focuses on how humans try to control uncontrollable matters.
This book has wonderfully crafted short stories, seven of them. Every story has the lead protagonist embarking on a journey (sometimes literally) to alter their fates. Every story drags you in completely. Even if the reader tries their best, it is impossible to predict the twists and turns the plot takes you through. You will find yourself on the edge of your seat at every second of this read.
The societies and worlds created by the author have been well thought out. Each theory about the dystopian world somehow makes sense. Mahesh Rajan has paid wonderful attention to detail. He has smartly peppered in the laws of his worlds in the stories, without deviating from the main plot. There are times when one has to reread certain parts because the concepts were so unique, and of course, the jaw-dropping endings contributed to it as well.
The characters in this fictional setting have been written so well and are so real that readers may find themselves relating to the journey and empathizing with the protagonists’ choices. They aren’t black and white, and author Mahesh treads carefully into the grey areas.
The author is clever with his plotline and knows how to direct them while being smart about how much information he provides to his reader. He knows how to pull the reader in and tease them before dropping the bomb at the end, which goes completely against the readers’ expectations. ‘Illusions of Control’ is a roller coaster ride indeed.
The book portrays certain themes that are often seen in the world we live in, such as classism, war, perils of technology, reality vs media, and the fight for global domination. These themes have been set in a mix of genres like science fiction, thriller, fantasy, and mystery. The book is filled with varying elements, yet, it holds true to its title. In its essence, the book is about trying to take control, when control is just an illusion, an overestimation made by humans. The author does not plan on sugar-coating this fact to the readers. In fact, each story is unapologetic with the narrative and how it delves into this fact.
The way the author has depicted these worlds and their societies give us a glimpse into the confusion and indecisiveness that is so familiar to the human brain.
The writing is raw and to-the-point. The author doesn’t waste any time. The author has taken such thrilling concepts and weaved excellent narratives around them. He has made sure not to add anything that may seem cliche into his plots. ‘Illusions of Control’ guarantees that it remains unique and distinctive till the very end.
Each story is very different from the other and has some of the favorite tropes of anyone who reads science fiction, i.e. time travel, aliens, dystopian societies, etc. He has crafted each story to make it engaging, ensuring that the reader doesn’t take their eyes off the book at any point. This book is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys well-crafted speculative fiction.
‘Illusions of Control’ is priced at Rs.349 and available in Paperback and E-book formats across major E-Commerce channels and platforms.
For further updates on Mahesh and his book, visit:https://linktr.ee/maheshratnamr