Once in a while, you come across a book which makes you question the very foundation your life has been built upon, the norms you have been following all your life. The Wall is just that kind of a book. It urges you to take a leap of faith. A leap beyond things no one thought to even look beyond, and those few who dared, were silenced.
It is set in a world called Sumer, which is bound by a wall. The wall has been there since time immemorial and it stands in the present day as a protector to the people of Sumer. However, things begin to change when a group of young people dare to question its existence and see a future without it. The book follows the journey of Mithila and her friends, as their mere dream of a horizon transforms into a revolution. It is a tale of rebellion, of rights, of duties, of curiosity, of yearning and above all, of love. Love for not just the people in your life, but for your own thoughts and ideas.
The writing style of the author is one of the best things about the book. The way it traverses between stories revolving around the history of Sumer and the present day plot, without seeming abrupt at any point, is something quite appreciable. I really like how the book is presented to the reader, with excerpts from original texts of Sumer, songs and poetry which compliment the story all along.
The world building is quite intricate and detailed. The nomenclature, inspired by Hindi and Sanskrit, is also something worth mentioning. Also, Gautam places women at positions of power in his story, breaking all the stereotypes and that too, effortlessly. It seemed as if there was nothing unique with women leading a government, it was something equally likely for both the genders in Sumer. The romantic relationships too were not bound by the gender norms of our world. But, at the same time, I could draw so many parallels between our world and Sumer-how people’s right to express themselves are curbed by fooling them, how the loopholes of governance are hidden successfully from the people because of their unawareness, how inter-caste relationships are still forbidden and so on.
There were times, I felt the story to be a bit dragged. In my opinion, it lacked action, adventure and twists, which would have made it all the more easy to get one hooked to it. I also felt that the romance was way too subtle. It could have been written about more. Also, I struggled a bit with the functioning of the world in the beginning. Too much information was given to the reader without much time to process it .I found myself struggling to understand what was happening in the first hundred pages, I would have appreciated a little more explanation of how things worked in Sumer.
Nevertheless, The Wall is a beautifully written book which will make you stand against whatever wall the society has built around you or even you yourself have managed to trap yourself in. It will make you question things, for no reason in particular but just because they exist.
Looking forward to the next installment!
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About the Author
Gautam Bhatia is a reviewer an editor with the award-winning Strange Horizons magazine. The Wall is his first SF novel.In another world, he is a lawyer.