A False Alarm | Book Review | The Literature TodayJune 9, 2020
The present-day human society is confronted by issues that are critical and need attention. It becomes the responsibility of writers to bring these issues into the limelight and raise awareness among people. Arjun Kacper in his book, “A False Alarm” fulfils this responsibility by bringing a critical issue in front of the readers through his work.
The two sisters, Viola and Valentine Romano take the centre stage and the narrative is explored through them. The author takes time to build upon their lives by frequently shuttling the narrative between Italy, New York and Miami and shows how the lives of the orphan sisters change. Both are finely developed personalities who are poles apart and yet one thing that unites them is their bond and the love they have for each other. Both show equal determination to go to the ends of the earth to save one another, however, the situation calls for.
The critical issue which can also be considered to be the theme, human trafficking comes up a little later but thereafter, the readers are not able to forget the importance of it in the present time. This is one such issue on which quite less is written and the author makes sure to explain how this happens. The other themes that the author highlights are parenting, bond of blood ties, and human sensitivity.
The title of the novel “A False Alarm” only makes sense at the end in the last section when the author gives the book the least expected twist but even to understand that, the reader has to read the whole novel. The twist begins to develop quite early but the reader only realises it at the end when the author informs the reader through his third-person account.
Kacper frequently keeps shifting the narratives in the first and third person. He informs the reader of the scene that is is to follow and the reader gets to know about the rest through the characters and their words. With this technique, the author makes sure that the characters do not become mere puppets in his hands, rather develop and emerge with their own personalities. This does remain limited to Viola and Valentine. It goes beyond to Mr. Owen, Mr. Finn and even minor characters like Owen’s wife Emma, Benjamin, the less appearing Oliver, Arissa and Sogin Dang.
Although Viola and Valentine are opposites in terms of their personality and nature, they both sound quite convincing in their places. They decide for their lives on their own and do what they want with excellence. They both have their own lives but one thing that hold them and the narrative together is their love for each other.
The readers may have to be on their toes initially to get an actual grip of the plot and its development but as the plot progresses, it begins to hold the interest of the readers and they begin to observe and also become involved in the narrative to the extent that they also become their own kind of investigators. This is the art of the author, who manages to involve the readers at a subconscious level and makes sure that they remain involved throughout.
The subject of “A False Alarm” is very strong and hard-hitting which is only a reflection of the contemporary scenario. The subject more than relevant in the current scenario and the fact that less has been written makes the book even more important. Keeping this in mind, readers should read the book with an open mindset to understand the criticalities the author is trying to point out. The language used by the author is fine and can be understood by an average reader. This book is specially meant for those who look for the content beyond the fantasy world and rather prefer to look at the realities of life. The book may be a work of fiction but the issues it raises and the characters he creates are more than enough to supply the realistic element to “A False Alarm”.