Full disclosure: I was given a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
In all of my years of reading, I have never come across a political thriller. However, I’m glad that I started this website, so I could read novels that I would normally not pay much attention to. I’m glad that I lost my political thriller virginity to Privilege by Bharat Krishnan – a wonderfully fast-paced book with complex characters that addresses privilege, power, wealth, class, and race.
Privilege is the first book in the WP Trilogy. It revolves around Rakshan – a twenty-something Indian American in New York City who plans to steal a powerful drug known as WP, which grants superhuman powers. Only white people can get their hands on it legally. After Rakshan gets fired from his job at a hedge fund run by Aditya Shetty – another Indian-American who has been able to acquire WP through business transactions – and dumped by his girlfriend, he is determined to obtain the drug to earn glory and to win her back. He enlists his friends from college to help him with the heist. His journey also sets off a chain of events that affects others in the city, the country, and even the world.
In this political climate, I think readers would know what WP stands for (and no, it’s not for WordPress.) Having that as a drug is a very clever idea on Krishnan’s part to emphasize the issues of race, power, and obviously privilege. I’ve noticed some people expressing issues with how the drug works. All I will say is that they may have overthought about it because to me, the drug is similar to cocaine, as in it makes the user euphoric; mentally alert; and hypersensitive to sight and sound. Obviously, Krishnan exaggerates these effects to show how powerful people can become while on the narcotic.
Krishnan claims the book is perfect for fans of Ocean’s 11 and House of Cards. Even though I’ve never seen the latter, the former makes sense. In fact, the novel made me think of The Bouncer by David Gordon because both evoke the humor, crime, and thrill of the Ocean series as their characters go on their heists.
I also enjoyed how fast paced the book was. There was always something going on. At only 118 pages, the novel manages to contain a main story and three subplots. I was able to follow every one of them because of how Krishnan fleshes them out. My favorite subplot was with Rakshan’s ex-girlfriend Sadiya as she comes to terms with her sexuality with her lesbian best friend Maadhini. The author gives the proper weight to that conflict, especially when Maadhini questions if Sadiya’s feelings are real, or if she is only wanting to experiment. In addition, I liked the plot with Jerome – a black teen who comes across the ring Rakshan used to propose to Sadiya. He notices that it contains WP and goes to many lengths to have more, even if it means dealing with shady people. Also, there’s another subplot about some politicians trying to legalize WP, yet it’s not given a whole lot of development. I imagine that Krishnan will do more with that one in the trilogy’s future titles.
Additionally, I liked the characters and how complex they were, especially Rakshan. After getting fired and dumped by Sadiya on the same day, he thinks that getting the narcotic will help him get her back (even though he swears to his friends that’s not the case.) As a result, his actions take on a more obsessive, stalker tone as he and his pals plan to break into Shetty’s apartment to get WP. Rakshan even taunts his best friend Abhinav for his weight and how nerdy he is. Abhinav is willing to tolerate that to a point, but when the group is jailed for the first failed attempt to steal the drug, he loses his temper and points out Rakshan’s actions. Later on, Rakshan heartfully apologizes to his friends for his behavior. He even gets a chance to make a difference when he encounters Jerome’s mother at the very end.
Overall, Privilege by Bharat Krishnan is a very entertaining and compelling piece of work. Its concept is a very clever take on the issues that ravage today’s society. At 118 pages, it’s a fast read with captivating characters and situations. I can’t wait to read the next title in the trilogy, which is appropriately called Power!
Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates. Also feel free to email me here for any review suggestions, ideas, or new titles!