Thursday, 19 March 2015

Review of ‘Breach’ authored by Amrita Chowdhury.

‘Colare’ is supposed to be the new ‘wunderkid’ on the block. A drug that has gone through a long and stringent testing period, that is going to be used in the fight against late-stage metastic pancreatic cancer. With millions of dollars already invested in it and billions expected to be garnered from it once it hits the market; the scientists are absolutely horrified to discover anomalies in the data that is coming in from their ‘Research Centre’ in Mumbai.
Days away from filing for global patency it’s a desperate race against time to discover why this is happening?
 Is that drug not all what it was believed to be or is the data inconsistency being thrown up due to non- adherence to research protocol in their Mumbai facility? Has a virus been planted in their system to distort the data and if so who has done it and how do they find it? Is somebody trying to steal their research and piggy back on it? The probable causes are endless, the outcome just one that they can consider…they have to plug the ‘breach’.

Ms Chowdhury takes us through the shiny, antiseptic research centers’ in the USA and India; past the seedy underbelly of Mumbai’s slums and criminals. We catch a glimpse of middle class India and the choices that technology has given them. Above all it takes us into the world of computing and its threats that very few of us know much about.

Breach is an extremely well researched novel, be it about computer viruses or systems, drug related issues or even the patent filing system; Ms Chowdhury has delved deep and given us a comprehensive idea of what all it entails. After reading this book I was absolutely horrified at how easy it is for anyone to hack into my computer and get my personal details. It throws up an absolutely appalling picture of what modern day crime could result in. The plot was a believable one and I could envision something like this actually happening. There were these little nuggets of personal observation by the characters which I felt were so astute, be it Raghu thinking of how their ‘lives were leached of colour’ or Sandman pondering the harsh reality that people talked to him on the internet who would not have given him the time of the day if they had know whom he really was etc.

What I did struggle with in the book was the excessive technological jargon. There was a lot of in-depth exploration and explanation of software systems, viruses, clinical trials, patency laws etc but it was not couched in lay-man’s terms and even though I did appreciate all the research done for authenticity, I found myself skipping parts as trying to understand all that was taking away from the story. Secondly I found it had too many characters and little mini plots around these individuals. My personal liking is for stories in which I can recall the characters and don’t have to keep referring back to see whom is being written about and their context to the story. Then again, wouldn’t call this a drawback but just the way I like something.

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