Anil Goel's Exit Point could have been a blockbuster. Anil had all the key elements of a thriller set in the cyberspace that too of 2016. So the protagonist Alok has to uncover the murder of a young girl called Megan. Apparently she was chatting with another girl by name Ishshah on a social networking site called Xnet (sort of facebook) founded by one Mark Eisenberg. Plus there is an online suicide pact between two strangers. There is Adam, Eve and even the eastern Mahasamadhi. In an attempt to make the novel success, Anil has stuffed the book with all that he could. So we have foreign accounts like that of Swiss, Quantum computers, a cop with a past, two computer prodigies, noosphere, gunfire in an American School. The plot travels across the globe – Australia, India, China, Hong Kong, London and America.
There is nothing wrong incorporating all these elements. However, they should have been incorporated in the right amount and at the right places. In other words the book required better editing job. Anil has spent considerable ink in thanking his editor for making the novel readable. However, it is only because of poor editing that the book with brilliant ideas drags most of the times, takes time to built characters, wastes pages in unnecessary descriptions, looses the murder and suicide plot behind Mark and gives unnecessary importance to characters like Dharamsingh, Pratigya and Yunusbhai, who have very little to do with the story. The concept of deadswitch whereby a person can record his last moments and send it to the person with whom he wished to share it is definitely interesting. I wish it would have been used a little more instead of just touch and go.
The story sounds very contemporary. I wondered why it was set in the year 2016. The setting in the year 2016 is not too distant a future. So it does not make a very big difference.
The use of incorrect Hindi and Marathi sentences is another drawback of the book. So What Happened is written in Hindi as Kya ho gaga. Don't trouble sir too much, okay becomes Sahib la traas nako diyu ka. It would have been better if the dialogues were kept in English instead of wrong usage of Hindi and Marathi languages. Similarly there are mistakes with regard to English as well. In my opinion the sentence “He fell down as an urchin in a tattered yellow flock flew past him,” is incorrect. I think what the writer meant was a frock and not flock. Similarly lines like I'll take your leave for a bit too don't sound good. At many places a single sentence is abruptly broken to form another paragraph. The length of the novel (more than 500 pages) works against it. The novel could have certainly been a racy thriller if it would have been trimmed down by some pages.
Some chapters carry locations like London St. Paul Cathedral and also month and year, while some chapters don't carry any. The places don't have a role in the story. So even if St. Paul Cathedral had become a Jama Masjid, it would not have any impact on the story. There is no flipflop of years. The story proceeds in a chronological manner. So mentioning of year and location is certainly misguiding.
I will definitely give full marks to Anil for his conceptualization. It is simply brilliant. He should be congratulated for attempting a Herculean task. That he just scrapes through it is another story. I wish the novel could have been better edited. It definitely offers something new. Bad editing makes the novel drag. I mourn the death of a fantastic novel in its womb, for it did not find a trained midwife to make its delivery in the world of literature smooth. But Anil you have the potential and we look forward for your next novel.