The best thing about Johnny Gone Down is the cover. It is simply marvellous. The Buddha statue, the Christ the Redeemer, the Statue of Liberty, the Taj Mahal, computers, flights pointing particular direction, danger sign, smoke alcohol drugs, blade, shooting guns, outer space and so much more!!!
So when you study the cover before starting the book, you know for sure that you are seated for an intercontinental ride. I really liked the way Karan describes the Khmer Rouge era, the killings the torture, it was as though I was watching it, the pregnant women-stabbed, Nikhil eyeing the second rice bowl - the hunger "or even just the smell"..it was so real and so horrible, "He never rose again.Everyday I envied him", “they removed the body when the smell bothered them”...I have never read a description like this, its pain and defeat written all over. "they had converted a school into torture chamber for educated bourgeoisie"...The Cambodian chapter was the most interesting, most horrifying and most painful.
This is a line from Khmer Rouge Wiki:
Money was abolished, books were burned, teachers, merchants, and almost the entire intellectual elite of the country were murdered, to make the agricultural communism, as Pol Pot envisioned it, a reality. The planned relocation to the countryside resulted in the complete halt of almost all economic activity: even schools and hospitals were closed, as well as banks, and industrial and service companies.
Hats off to the author for writing the story so well.
Small details like Marco using.."men", I could actually hear his accent! "I spent every moment I could glued to my chair; only my fingers on the mouse moved, edging my icon closer to Lara's so we could be together..", “she signed out in the evening to take care of our son, I thought hopefully, I would start working on virtual environment adding tools and option that I thought could please her.” The desperation of getting her back Virtually!!! Thinking of what the person is going through, his state of mind, he wanting his wife so much that even her icon gives him a bout of new life, adding tools to please her! Pain described liked this...the last time I felt like this way was while reading Jeffrey Archer's Kane and Abel (the way Archer described Abel tied up and forced to watch his sister being brutally raped by American soldiers and his sister ultimately bleeding to death... I remember myself sobbing!).
But the end, -- the duel, the guy turning out to be Sam's servant, meeting Sam at the wedding, reuniting with Lara. All this was too Bollywoodish or the masala Hindi movie. I would have liked it more real, even Gump losses his wife in the end. The best thing about Keep Off the Grass was its epilogue and we Indians love happy endings. That way this ending should be the best part too, but still it could have been a more believable happy ending.
To summarize, the novel is really very good. It kind of reminds me of Sidney Sheldon, complete package of drama, spirituality, sorrow, love, lust, gang fights, wealth, poverty, pain, despair and success against all odds.