Ever since I was a kid I was a bookworm in earnest, someone whose head would always be buried in a book (which wasn’t a part of my school curriculum). I loved reading books but sadly my reading list fell short when it came to Indian authors. Most of the easily accessible books by Indian authors that were meant for a younger generation just weren’t my cup of tea. Save for Ruskin Bond, there was hardly any author who I could relate to. In my early teen years I had to resort to Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Princess Diaries and others that could purge my desire for adventure. In my late teens I struggled to find a decent romance novel in India that would fall into the Young Adult category, that was written with decent grammar and had characters that were even remotely relatable. From the early 2000s a trend of new Indian authors heralding the literary scene in the country began, helmed by the infamous Chetan Bhagat. While his contribution was considerable, he helped to pave the way for many newbie writers waiting to come out of the closet.
Wondering what is it I read that left me so scarred. Sit down, for this will take a while:
- I Too Had a Love Story: Ravinder Singh is known for the love stories he spins out of nothing. His book, I too had a Love Story, howver is apparently based on real-life events. In his debut novel, Singh bared his love life for the world to see and inspect and even comment on. Deemed as the “best romantic novel” of this generation by many media websites, the book fails to evoke any real emotions as the autobiographical element spins a tale of a loved one entering your life and exiting it forever.
- How I Braved Anu Aunty and Co-founded a Million-Dollar Company: Firstly, we need to have an intervention for authors obsessed with long titles and next we need to catch hold of Varun Agarwal. “It’s the mother of all swears—mother swear!” says one line in the book as two engineers turned MBAs decided to start a dream company. Ummm.. what? The scene where they draw up the blueprint on a paper napkin in a dark Bangalore pub with mugs of beer in hand sounds familiar? This book salvages itself with some humor in the form of the character that Anu Aunty is but apart from that it is dull and even narcissistic in parts.
Everytime it Rains: Nikita Singh tries her hand at a modern love story with a girl who is recovering from her past relationships when she meets the boy who is completely the opposite of everything she is. The book tries to encapsulate a broken heart’s tale but is unsuccessful in capturing the real pain of a woman who is grappling with a unforgotten past as she tries and fails to fall in love again.
- The Boy Who Loved: As if the title of the book isn’t too familiar (hint: Harry Potter was The Boy Who Lived, duh!), this book by Durjoy Datta claims to be dark, edgy and quirky. And where is the originality guys? One particular sentence reads: “We bunked the last period and went to the planetarium. The universe witnessed our first date.” Does anyone recall a similar scene in the TV show FRIENDS between Ross and Rachel? A school going boy has everything going well but the guilt of letting his friend die weighs him down. An attempt to create some forced mystery goes down the drain with the predictable plot of the book.
- I Loved A Street Woman: Written by Nitin Vinay Khare the book is full of cliches as it writes the story of Captain Aviral, a war veteran who is trying to reconcile his life as he recovers from his war injuries. Estranged from his childhood love, this book is everything that Bollywood films and Television serials are brewed out of.
If It’s Not Forever, It’s Not Love: A book co-authored by Durjoy Datta and Nikita Singh, this novel shows a road trips of two friends with their girlfriends. The plot thickens as they embark on a journey to look for the lady love of a victim of the 2011 Delhi High Court blasts. Fiction and a poorly written one indeed, this one wavers between being a thriller, a mystery and a love story all at once.
You’re Trending in My Dreams: A book by Sudeep Nagarkar the story revolves around four college students who move in together into a flat in Mumbai. The book aimed to give a glimpse into the lives of these friends but escalates between dull stages of joy and sorrow as it fails to make any real connection with characters that could very well have been relatable to the youngsters living away from home.
The point is why can’t we offer decent Young Adult Fiction to our young minds? And when we do, why does it end up sounding like the screenplay of a would-be Bollywood movie with glamorous characters and unbelievable plot-lines.
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