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Read advance reader review of The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara, page 3 of 3

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The Immortal King Rao

A Novel

by Vauhini Vara

The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara X
The Immortal King Rao by Vauhini Vara
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  • Published May 2022
    384 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 21 member reviews
for The Immortal King Rao
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  • Julie P. (Fort Myers, FL)
    The Immortal King Rao
    How to describe this debut? Is it dystopian fiction about biotechnological innovation? Is it historical fiction about a family in newly independent India in the 1950s? Or is it science fiction about a new world order where citizens are shareholders? It's a back and forth mish-mash of all three, at times confusing, with the author constantly throwing more characters into the mix. Much of the book is about King Rao's childhood on an Indian coconut plantation, intermingled with his later creation of a personal computer, the Coconut (Apple?), which changes how the world is governed. Can this technology lead to the Internet becoming a part of our brains? And how does this affect his daughter, Athena? This book will not be everyone's cup of tea, but maybe those who enjoyed Anthony Doerr's latest, Cloud Cuckoo Land, will enjoy it.
  • Viqui G. (State College, PA)
    The Immortal King Rao
    The premise of this novel was compelling and the main characters were well fleshed out and nuanced. However, the many numbers of different characters were difficult to keep straight and I often had to go back in the book to remind myself of character names and relationships with King Rao or Athena. In addition, I found the plot line hard to follow at times due to abrupt storyline transitions.
  • Sonya M. (Takoma Park, MD)
    King Rao and the Rise of IT
    I recommend this book for those fascinated by the rise of IT and its impact on our everyday lives, the global economy, and politics. That story is fictionalized through the story of King Rao and his invention of "Coconut," mimicking the rise of Apple Computer.

    Told in three timelines, the birth, and early years of King Rao as a Dalit (untouchable) in India, through his rise as a software genius in Seattle and the founding of Coconut, and in the future when the internet and software algorithms rule the world and take over our brains. The Shareholders relinquish their decision making and government to the Algorithm; the Exes have moved away and live a communal existence on islands set aside for their use.

    The modern-day story of the rise of Coconut is interesting and probably parallels Jobs or Gates or a combination of both. However, I found the stories in India sometimes confusing when I lost track of so many names of Rao family members; and the future world seems naively developed. The naming convention is silly – Coconut, Clarinet (for the memory implants), and Algo (for the algorithm). King Rao's story is told through implanted memories in his daughter Athena, which is not always clear that that is what is happening. The writing is mostly quite skilled, but dialogue deteriorates and is unrealistic in parts. That said, many sections are strong and a fascinating read.
  • Becky H. (Chicago, IL)
    Ultimately Unsatisfying
    I thought this was going to be an Indian dalit makes good in the tech world, creates a new world order that turns on him and he responds with more techie intrigue book.

    Unfortunately, it turned out to be a wide ranging but superficial family drama with a vast cast of characters that jumped from past to present to near past to middle past and back to present with jarring regularity. Oh, yes, there is some techie stuff thrown in but it is an obvious afterthought to the family drama.

    The techie part was interesting. Can you turn your mind into a computer and then pass it on to another? What an intriguing idea. I wish more of the book revolved around this idea. I was disappointed.

    There were too many characters, many of whom make only brief appearances before disappearing. The time jumps occurred without warning. The characters, even King and his daughter, Athena, were not fully fleshed out. The story of how a dalit family became land owners was interesting but was glossed over. Ultimately unsatisfying.
  • Nancy L. (Staunton, VA)
    King Rao
    "The Immortal King Rao" is the story of a man of humble beginnings who becomes famous world wide. Beginning in India, we meet the Dalit clan of King Rao and see him as a youngster. Then we travel to the US and see King as a young computer genius. Finally we move into exile with the elderly King in a dystopian future.
    "The Immortal King Rao" is not my cup of tea. I enjoyed the three parts separately, but found the flow of the book too choppy and often difficult to follow.
  • Therese M. (Winfield, IL)
    The Immortal King Rao
    The book tells the story of an Indian Untouchable, King Rao, whose mantra that there's no problem that can't be solved, and his beyond genius computer skills, end up literally changing the world. His company, called Coconut (think Apple on steroids), evolves into a super corporation, with the world's citizens as its global shareholders. In theory, as private industry, Coconut can provide whatever society needs, better than any country's government. Of course, there are those who want no part of the new order, and they become a powerful draw for King Rao's daughter, who he's kept a secret from the world.

    While there are some interesting concepts here, some reflecting a version of current events, I found the plot lines and characters difficult to follow and piece together. The ending's big reveal and it's results frankly left me scratching my head.
  • Gail B. (Albuquerque, NM)
    Editor Wanted
    This was a book I struggled with. The story flips back and forth from 1950's India, to 1980's invention of the internet, to post-Steve Jobs 21st century. Much of the early years was confusing and too long. I guess the author's point is that some basic things don't change -- the old caste system of India becomes the post-modern techni-world divided into the privileged Board of Shareholders class, to Bainbridge Island Exes, to Blanklands where King Rao lives in exile, all defended by the author who says, "Who is going to argue with an all-knowing algorithm ?" I found the book poorly organized, but it might have been saved if it were pared down, or not so much skipping around, or divided into three volumes
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