PLOT: 3.5/5 CHARACTERS: 3.5/5 WRITING: 3/5 CLIMAX: 4/5 ENTERTAINMENT: 3.5/5
“You know, we all have created a web of expectations around us. We want everything, and to get that everything, we sacrifice smaller joys. So, running after those great joys, we sacrifice several little joys that help life to become happier. And by the time we achieve those big milestones, we lose the ability to enjoy them because we have missed the deserving age.”
– Shriharsh Sonar, Before Dawn
I am scared of big books. They overwhelm me because of their sheer size and the amount of commitment that they ask of me. Over the years, apart from the books in the Harry Potter series and a few others, I haven’t read a lot of big lengthy books.
Thus, when Before Dawn came my way, it wasn’t without some trepidation that I picked it up, and boy! It did take me a while to get through the epic saga. By the end of it, however, I was satisfied with the process and the whole experience of reading it. Continue to know more about the book and my review of it.
What to expect?
Expect a mega entertainer of epic proportions that offers a bit of everything. Expect a book that offers complex characters and a truly amazing character transformation. Expect a book that takes inspiration from Hollywood movies. And one that though being written by an Indian author, has an American setting, an American backdrop, and a predominantly American cast of characters.
Who can read?
The book is written in a language that is rich and formal, the writing is complex and makes use of references that might not be easily understood by a beginner. Keeping that in mind, I would recommend this book to regular readers. However, those who wish to improve upon their language and vocabulary will benefit immensely from it.
The story as it goes
Before Dawn narrates the story of Gemma Zessar, a powerful and ruthless woman, who heads a 12-billion-dollar media conglomerate, and is known for her ambition and greed. Her thirst for power makes her commit atrocious sins during the short span of her career.
And while she devises various plans to not just peddle but manufacture news of catastrophic tragedies, which she does in order to boost the circulation of her flagship newspaper brand Before Dawn, deeper and deeper she gets sucked into the ugly world of criminals and business-politico-mafioso nexus.
However, when Karma bites back and it is finally the time for payoff, she is saved by a man whom she irrevocably falls in love with. Once touched by the healing power of love, she becomes a changed woman, ready to repent her sins and right all the wrongs.
But does fate have other plans for her?
Will the love of her life be taken away from her just like she had taken away loved ones of thousands if not millions?
How far will Gemma go to save the ones she had come to love?
This is an epic story of a larger-than-life character who finds love at a time when she had least expected it.
Let’s talk about the writing
From the very beginning, the writing manages to create a sense of intrigue. The reader is served both shock and suspense as one is introduced to Gemma’s character. There are pages after pages dedicated to establishing Gemma’s personality as ruthless and fearsome. In that way, the characters have been written really well.
There are moments in the story that render the reader emotional. Even though the story is quite unique and the characters extraordinary, still at the core, the issues that grip them are pretty relatable. Before Dawn also delves into different kinds of relationship dynamics and illustrates why many relationships suffer from the lack of emotional connection, adequate time devotion, etc.
How good are the characters?
The author does a great job of crafting his characters. Almost all of the main characters including Gemma, Walter, Nigel, Sarah, Remeez, etc. have been given a lot of depth. Most of them are charismatic, with each of them having distinct personalities, quirks, ambitions, values, work ethics, and backstories. Who they are and what their actions speak about them can be perfectly attributed to the story of their past.
As the pages progress, most of the characters, as the reader would find, would grow on them.
To describe one of them, let’s take Gemma for example. In the beginning, Gemma seems to have a very one-sided character. She seems to be all black, with not an iota of good in her. But while there is no justification for her flawed moral compass and resultant misdeeds, her back story (esp. the part about her childhood) tells us where all that anger, frustration, and hatred comes from. How her dysfunctional relationships at home shaped her worldview and her future.
In contrast to that, we also see Walter and his back story. How challenging and financially crippling his childhood was and how his circumstances back then, shaped him as an adult. Needless to state, the contrast is striking.
Then, there are other characters whom you meet along the way and who grow on you. Even though many of them don’t command a lot of time and importance in the plot, they are still written with careful thought and given agreeable backstories.
What I didn’t like?
I did not like the romance. The characters are good, and so are the circumstances in which they fall in love and their reasons for falling in love. But the romance is too mechanical. The passionate, intense chemistry that should sizzle through the pages, is missing. For starters, it comes too abruptly. Abruptly enough to seem unbelievable. Then there is the language in which Gemma and Walter converse. It’s too rich, too flowery, too unnatural, too impractical, and might I say, a bit show-offish.
What could have been better?
At many times, the reader is forced to deal with a huge amount of information dump. This information overload which presents itself in the form of lengthy descriptions, unnecessary detailing, etc slows down the pace of the book. Thereby, reducing the reading pleasure. I would have also liked it if the author had used simpler language.
Let’s talk about the climax
For me, the climax of Before Dawn comes unexpected and that’s a good thing. The reader in me just didn’t see the end panned out in such a manner. Also, it is feel-good yet tragic, emotional yet satisfying.
In the end
In the end, Before Dawn is a romantic saga of epic proportions that attempts to capture the unbelievably life-changing power of love. A masala entertainer, it serves entertainment, romance, drama, thrill, mystery, action, and crime in generous doses.
Pick the book if
- You are looking for a mega saga.
- You enjoy life-changing or path-breaking character transformations.
- You like the idea of an evil, ruthless, and ambitious young woman who turned into a phenomenal nurturer who would go to any lengths to protect her beloved.
- You are looking for a book that peeks into the ugly world of corrupt power brokers, greedy business people, and cold-hearted criminals.
- You enjoy stories about the media business.
Skip the book if
- You don’t enjoy lengthy reads.
- You are looking for a book that uses easy language.
Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of Before Dawn using the link below.