Book Review: Devourers from Suryaksh by Varun Sayal

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I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. 

I’m so happy to associate with the author again, in reviewing his third book ‘Devourers from Suryaksh: Race to the Last Evenuality’ ( Time traveller’s book #2)  It is the second book in his Time traveller’s book series. You can also read my reviews of his previous books ‘Time Crawlers, Stories From Parallel Universe‘, a  short story collection and his first book in this series ‘Demons of Time: Race to the Seventh Sunset (Time Traveler’s Book #1)‘ if you are interested. I will try to keep the spoilers in this book review to minimal. But sometimes it might be unavoidable,so ‘spoiler alert’ anyway.

Tej, the time demon/crawler is fighting against the odds to save the world from the control of evil forces. Just like in the first book, fellow time demons, time readers, humans, necromancers etc are helping him in winning this battle. But unlike the first book, the villain, in this case, is not a fellow human or time demon. There are two alien races in this book, Kshins and Kuleens. One of them befriends humans like Tej whereas the other want to rule over the entire humankind and make them suffer. These two clans reminded me a bit about Elois and Morlocks in the book ‘The time machine’. But there are many major differences.

Some areas/techniques in the book that I really liked:

1. Nefe, the villain

I always believe that a strong villain is necessary to build a strong hero and thereby a strong plot. What we lacked in Rigu or Kumbh in the first book, Nefe more than makes up in the second book. Of course, she is evil and bloodthirsty like other villains in this series. But she also has other layers to her.

We usually get very cold-blooded villains in two versions- either too calm or too aggressive. But I felt Nefe is both. In the planning phase, she must be ultra-cool, because she gets even the intricate details of her missions sorted out in advance with not just preventive measures but also backup plans intact. That seriously needs some clear-headed thinking. Of course, she has help from her fellow beings and partners-in-crime for this. She leads them with both efficiency and fear borne out of her ruthlessness. But at a personal level, Nefe often succumbs to her emotions. She is lustful and aggressive. She even lets these emotions to rule her and her decisions. This is evident when she is on the battlezones or even during crucial moments in the story where she should have played it safe. The way she treats Gajendra, the guard at Rigu’s ashram or Tej’s entire village people or Rubina etc are examples for this. Nonetheless she keeps Tej and his friends in pinpoint throughout the story through her ace plans and power. She made minimal mistakes and saw through most of Tej’s plans. She reminded me of serpents in mythologies, that grows seven heads in the place of one cut down. Kickass villain! But Nefe is not the sole villain in this book. Her entire clan is plotting against humans under her leadership.

2. Characters and their arcs

When I read the first book, one major area where I had complaints were in character portrayals. I felt only Tej had a well etched out character in the first book. But the author has corrected that issue very well in the second book. Not just Tej and Nefe, but other comparatively short-duration characters like Mozeek, Andriele, Pete Morales, Histor, Jarna, Lorem,Kunthala etc also leave an impact on the readers’ mind.  Even car A.I. Pablo feels like a wholesome character.

In characterisation, I love grey areas and redemption curves the most. So even though there is an air of uncertainty lingering around them always, I loved how one friend turns villain and another villain becomes a fellow schemer in this story. But it’s still a wonder to me how Tej can remain as innocent and uncorrupted as he is, despite becoming a pawn for evil schemers again and again.

3. Concept of Lorem

I  loved the concept of Lorem, a time demon who is present in all time slices, kind of like God in our ideologies. I liked how Lorem partially gets involved in the schemes of Tej. If only we could persuade God to help us humans the same way Tej persuades Lorem! Or maybe we do already. 🤔

4. Representation of LGBTQ community 

I liked how the author represents the LGBTQ community in the book. Relationship between Tej and Manu & Vedhika and Rubina were portrayed sensitively.

5. Fine detailing and twists

An area the author excels again is in ‘fine detailing’ especially while explaining technologies, weapons and transportation facilities of various time frames like 772 BC, 3057 BC, 2057-2073 AD etc The multi-faith religions of the future shown through the vessel-character Rosy really interested me.

I loved the descriptions in various battle scenes like solo attempt to murder Nefe, red zone attack etc. I could almost see an adaptation of the book into a Shankar-Rajni blockbuster movie like Enthiran running in the back of my mind. Tej’s skill update to a ‘hive-mind-like-possession’ took his attack mode to a whole different level.

There were some really good twists at crucial moments in the story, especially in the Kuleen party scene and climax. Not going into the details here to avoid spoilers for the readers.

6. Capturing human emotions

Through Concordia VX and Infernex, the author has nailed human thought processes while adopting latest technologies even when their data or personal safety is being compromised. The general human fear of missing out things, of being at a disadvantage without access to the latest technology is pointed out well.

7. Showing world population, Concordia VX preorders and adoption % in different time frames was a really good technique. It worked effectively in building pressure for readers.

8. Time as an element of uncertainty.

Nothing is permanent, not even our worries, not even our assurances. Nobody can be trusted or hated forever. The concept of non-existence is not applicable in the realms of time. Characters we think are gone forever keeps coming back. Characters who were supposed to last forever meets untimely departures. Thus time adds some beautiful uncertainties to this narration, which I really enjoyed.

Some areas that could have been better:

1. We hear about technologies used in various time periods. But the narration still doesn’t give us a panoramic view of the world in each timeframe.

2. The language used in various time frames still doesn’t show much difference. At least in Rudrakshini’s time, we know the language used is not a ‘known’ one. But otherwise everyone is speaking the same kind of English, the only difference being the technical jargon used.

3. The entrance to Kuleen office, Pete guiding Tej, reminded me a bit about the entrance to The Ministry of magic in Harry Potter. Also, Jess Sharma meeting Andriele in her bathtub scene reminded me of Daenerys and Daario scene in the Game of Thrones series. Maybe this was unintentional, but I felt these scenes lacked freshness.

4. I know this is a bit too unfair a criticism. But I can’t help but say it. Maybe I noticed it only because I have been collecting a lot of intel on climate changes recently and general readers may not notice it at all. But anyway, here we go. Despite having a plot going through 2057-2073 AD, there isn’t any mention of climate changes in the story. At the Kuleens party, people are still drinking in plastic cups and even in as late as 2073, there is the pretense of an environment summit. I wish the plot contained some additional complications due to climate changes or gave us some description of how humans overcame it. Otherwise even if Tej saves us from aliens, we would still be perishing by 2073 right?

5. I felt that the book ended well  without the epilogue. Of course epilogue adds some twists, but it could have been more abstract. I felt by stating the obvious and by explaining too much in the epilogue, book now ends with less suspense and tension.

Overall I enjoyed the book and found it engaging. I would give it a rating of 3.5/5. This book is definitely better in all respects than its predecessor in the series.

P.s. One of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Your superpower is not time travel or human possession. Your superpower is your ability to take in a lot of negativity and still do good for this world.”

What Pete Morales says to Tej is applicable to entire humans if we replace ‘time travel or human possession’ with ‘technology or power’.

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