TurbulenceTurbulence by Samit Basu

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

i remember when this book first came out, i tried to pick it up to read the back & flap… but the cover made me woozy and i had to look away. that unfocused thing in the type, i swear it destabilizes my inner ear or something… i persevered, flipped it over, and read far enough to understand that the book was something about superheroes and then didn’t feel bad not reading the rest, cause superheroes are kind of my own kryptonite.

but i was at the Bookshop Santa Cruz and one of the store clerks had tagged it–a shelf-tag encomium to its funniness–and i love funny, so i nabbed it, flipped it face-down in my basket and proceeded on.

yesterday i was in need of something funny, so i picked it up and read it. all afternoon, finished it at 2am. it’s that kind of book.

and it is really funny. a lot of times “funny” is pretty suspect in my universe, ’cause funny can be snarky, or mean, or stupid, or partisan, or just plain unkind. the kind of funny i like is rare–it’s the Kurt Vonnegut kind of funny, where he’s telling you something horribly painful but doing it with humor and inclusively. i won’t say that Basu’s writing is anywhere near Vonnegut’s but he is funny in the good way.

so! a group of travelers on a British Airways flight to India fall asleep on the plane and wake up with superpowers. sometimes weird superpowers, sometimes superpowers with no obvious use, but superpowers nonetheless. and of course some of them are good folk, and some are bad, and some are simply misled. it’s a good mix–even the bad guy isn’t wholly bad. well, maybe.

the good guy certainly isn’t 100% good.

the guys are not as interesting as the women, though. i particularly liked Tia, whose superpower allows her to divide herself endlessly. need an army? give Tia 10 minutes, and there’ll be the Army of Tia. and i like it very much that once a Tia splits, she becomes self-determining and may choose to run off and do something Tia Prime wouldn’t approve of. Uzma is also an interesting sort, not being entirely sure what her superpower is, except that people seem to really like her. and Anima! yikes.

so, not a book that falls down on its portrayals of women, which is also nice.

it’s also one of those books plotted to keep you up until 2am, an art i am only recently beginning to truly appreciate.

so, well, it’s not particularly deep. but that’s ok, it’s absolutely first-rate popcorn. i hear there’s a sequel coming out in June this year–i do hope the cover isn’t as nauseating, cause i’d like to be first in line for the book.