*My warm thanks to the author for the ARC of the book in exchange for my honest review. Some content and quotes may not make it to final publication. This review/post contains spoilers for the 1st book in the trilogy.
Cover & Details
In the aftermath of Jerome Johnson’s murder by a police officer, Rakshan and Therese, Jerome’s mother, must fight together for the legalization of WP. Meanwhile, Sadiya and Maadhini, now in India, navigate cultural clashes and their newfound relationship, and Senator Joseph Begaye may well be set to become the first Native American President of the USA.
Published: Self-published (Nov 16, 2020)
Cover artist: Amrita Raja
Special specs: Rise to complex political discussions, thought-provoking, generational and cultural explorations, POC mcs, LGBTQ+ mcs
For readers who enjoy significant, politically-empowered stories enriched with metaphors and devised to make you think, know, and act on the inequalities of our world.
With Power, the second book in his WP trilogy, Bharat Krishnan brings back in full force the politically-empowered story of Rakshan Baliga, the first generation Indian-American, heist mastermind we met in Privilege.
Sharing much with the first book, in Power the fight for the legalization of WP entails much higher stakes, as the nation holds its breath amidst the legal trials discussing its possibilities, as well as the case of Jerome Johnson, a Black boy murdered by a policeman. In stark imitation of reality, Jerome’s murder tragically brings to a boil the calls for justice, something argued the legalization of WP will achieve. As these intrinsically connected cases are discussed in court, the behind the scenes is expanding to give the reader a clearer picture of all sides of this continuous struggle for equal grounds.
Other storylines run parallel to the one of Rakshan and Therese (Jerome’s mother who is now fighting for justice for her son): Maadhini and Sadiya, now in India, navigating cultural clashes and their newfound relationship; Senator Joseph Begaye, championed to become, perhaps, the first Native American President of the United States, effectively dethroning President Lucas Brooks (who seems to be a well polished, clever replica of Trump); and a couple other narratives that transform this series into the political chessboard it is, leaving you with only the certainty that you never know what to expect.
I thought this politically-charged story contrasting with the more personal exploration of Sadiya and Maadhini’s adventure was really well done. It created this linked juxtaposition that ties in with the concepts of society, culture, and identity. I really liked this inventive way of connecting storylines that are so apart physically but unite thematically in ways that fit the essence of the entire book. Even Rakshan’s own spiral into twisted objectives, neglecting his friends and being unknowingly corrupted by the illusion of power that comes from constantly taking WP, melded the supernatural elements of the story with thought-provoking metaphors, which is, to me, one of the greatest strengths of the trilogy so far.
The author expertly utilizes all these blending storylines, and the general access to privilege, to assess and highlight much of the prejudices and injustice of society. Clear is the manipulation of privilege-wrapped power which preys on the vulnerable and violently turns community against community, the denying of opportunities that deprive many of their potential (here apparently symbolized by the abilities one gets from taking WP) or merely their right to live, the (and these have been my interpretations of the metaphorical aspects of the book) legalization of WP as a legal statement of enlarging those opportunities to those who have gone without them.
The best thing about this trilogy is how it forces you to look at the current world (if you’re privileged enough to have been able to avoid doing so as of yet) and get. Angry. I love that about it, even though it’s not without its faults, mainly in the ways it passes over some important cross-cultural discussions mentioned briefly and dismissively by its characters (such as the mention of the prejudice against Muslim communities).
Like a great man once said, “angry gets shit done”, and though Power is not without its humoristic moments, even it’s handful of sweetness, is more demanding than the first book and most of all a story to make you think and grow beyond its pages. That, along with the shocking cliffhanger by the end of the book (and the cool Jade City reference :p), will make me look out for the last in the trilogy with agitation (which will release on Dec 21, so get your copy now!).
Possible trigger warnings:Police brutality, racism, islamophobia, hate crimes on Black people
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Connect with Bharat
Bharat calls himself a professional storyteller and amateur cook.
After 10 years of working in politics, he tried to explain how the country went from Barack Obama to Donald Trump by writing Confessions of a Campaign Manager. Then he wrote Oasis, a desert-fantasy novel that examined what makes a family and how refugees should be treated.
Bharat is always looking to make a political statement with his writing because he knows politics seeps into every aspect of society and believes we can’t understand each other without a firm, constant understanding of how politics affects us in all ways.
He is currently in the process of releasing the WP Trilogy, an #ownvoices thriller about an Indian-American set in modern-day NYC.
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