I'd bought OVERLAND last Diwali, had read a couple of pages and then one thing leading to another, the book was set aside for a later read. Finally, I picked it up and finished reading it in the last couple of days.
Now, personally I had been hearing about OVERLAND since a while before it was available on stands, all thanks to FB. I used to wonder, if Mark had travelled across Asia all those years ago, what would he have written in his book? About the third world aspect or something nice? When I read the book, I was in for a couple of surprises!
1. Mark is an awesome story teller. He had me glued to the book. Last night my husband had a slight fever and this was the first time he had ever been this unwell. I was nervous and didn’t want to fall asleep. I wanted to stay awake and monitor his body temp from time to time, but kept dozing off. This was when I picked up OVERLAND’s half read copy, and believe me, I was wide awake, reading and checking on my husband, till 5:30 in the morning! Now, that should speak a lot about the story teller’s skill, shouldn’t it?
2. Another surprise was not a good one, and made me feel bad Mark. The book had many grammatical and proof reading errors. This needed to have been taken care of by the publisher I guess. While most people wouldn’t mind, as the plot is great …. A few finicky editors and grammar Nazis like me would find this uncomfortable.
Still, the story telling was so awesome, towards the end, I had started ignoring these flaws.
So the story kind of flips between 2010 and 1979-80, and two generations of Bensons.
Here is the synopsis from http://www.overlandthebook.com/:
“Overland is an action/adventure love story set against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Graduating medical student Danny Benson proposes to his long time girlfriend Heather Matheson on a beach in Santa Barbara so they can start their lives together, only to reject his proposal. On the day of his last exam, he receives a Dear John letter from Heather telling him she is in London and about to take off on the Magic Bus ride of her life to...”
The story begins in Afghanistan and ends in Nepal and in between, the protagonists travel all over from US to Asia. Danny, a doctor travels from US to Asia, all because the love of his life had left him and gone on the trip. The story becomes fascinating to me right from the moment the “Magic Bus” is mentioned. Having always wanted the adventure of picking my backpack and travelling all over the horizon, but being too cautious and scared to ignore the problems that I might face … Danny’s journey through the Magic Bus was my fantasy relived!
Another great thing about OVERLAND was that almost all of us can identify with it. I’d say almost all of us have done infinite foolish things to win the love of someone we thought we loved, and then we lost and finally found our true love! I have! And so did Danny! All through the period when he embarks on the journey to find Heather, I keep asking myself, “What about Emily? Hadn’t he fallen in love with her when they were younger? They HAVE to meet again!”
And they did! And how!! Every chapter had a new revelation and as I said, I simply had to finish the book overnight. Moreover, a snob like me decided to stop fussing about the proof-check mistakes and concentrate on the story!
OVERLAND is a book I will definitely recommend to new as well as regular readers, and as for Mark’s next … hell yeah! This time I am not gonna keep the book aside for3 months before reading it!
Rating: 4/5 for superb story telling