Saturday, 2 December 2017

When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks (1st June 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1473667402
ISBN-13: 978-1473667402


Meet Dimple.
Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination.

Meet Rishi.
He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans...

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Jenny Han and Nicola Yoon, WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI is a frothy, funny contemporary romance set at a coding convention in San Francisco over one exciting summer. Told from the dual perspectives of two Indian American protagonists, Dimple is fighting her family traditions while Rishi couldn't be happier to follow in the footsteps of his parents. Could sparks fly between this odd couple, or is this matchmaking attempt doomed to fail?

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*Fat fire breathing cat hath returned* but not for the reasons you’d think. No, the fire breathing cat has not made its return because it’s in love with a book - but instead because it was such a let down. Alas, tis with great regret I write this review, of what is clearly a much adored book - but I didn’t like it. Yep, it’s out there into the world wide web, I did not like this book. I wish I could take these words back, really, I do, BELIEVE ME GUYS. 

This was one of my most anticipated books of the year, or even over the last few years (with the other being Sarah J Maas’ books). This book promised me so much man. Quirky title - check. A kick ass premise - check and this check is so important, because its a person of colour, writing a people of colour story. And more specifically, SOUTH EAST ASIANS. Who are practically non existent in publishing industry except when there’s a need for a person of suspicious intent (cough terrorist). Sadly, we all know it’s true. 

So to know there would be a young adult contemporary book with Dimple and Rishi, two Indian characters - my heart leapt with absolute and undeniable utter joy. I didn’t even care at that point what the story would be on, it could have been a book about them battling dragons in China for all I care, and I’d still want the shit out of it. But this would be a YA contemporary, where both their parents are setting them up for an arranged marriage (another tick, shedding light on a negatively perceived topic). Which is why the letdown in the end hurt me so much more. Let me get in to the actual review and then I can sob again at the end, to my hearts content. 

The good - I love the title. SO MUCH. It’s quirky, it’s catchy, and it’s seriously cute. The cover is another glorious thing to behold - with the partially hidden face, the henna on her hands as she holds a Starbucks (east meets west with that shot!) and of course, her smile. WINNING. One of the best covers of the year for me, fo’sho. 

More good stuff: huge props to the author who I adore online - but it saddens me to say this didn’t translate into the book I wanted to read, BUT brownie (ha! pun intended) points awarded for the following. For writing a book which featured south east asian characters. I loved the interspersed moments where they speak hindi - as a fluent speaker myself, it’s such a lovely and refreshing thing to read and laugh along to. Points awarded for this being a YA novel about young south asian teens and even more so for it being based around arranged marriage. This is a huge thing for me and something I’m SO glad the author has chosen to base her story on, as the misconception and taboo around arranged marriage is so misinformed - and to take the topic into a YA book based on south asian characters, is a great way to openly talk about the topic in a light and informative way and for me - in this instance - it was a real representation of how arrange marriage in this day and age works. I have so much more I could say about this, but this review is already looking too long so let me cut it short and sweet. I appreciate the things the author has chosen to base her debut novel on - it’s risky territory but I’m glad the representation is there and appreciate the hell out of that. 

Now. The Bad. Brace yo’selves. I really, really, didn’t like Dimple or Rishi. *blows out a big breath* I know. This saddens and shocks me too. But my god, I really really disliked both characters, but probably and sadly, more Dimple. I get what this character was meant to be - the intent was clearly there. Swapping out the ultra-feminine stereotype and making her ambitious, into coding, doesn’t wear make up - intent on pursuing her dreams. Great, really, that all sounds fab - and would have been - if it wasn’t all so cliched and ended up being achieved by putting down other girls who aren’t anything like Dimple. Dimple spends a lot of the book talking about the other girls and characters around her, commenting on them, judging them, and making herself sound like she’s superior to them simply because she wasn’t into the things other girls were. She doesn’t wear makeup - that’s cool - but that doesn’t mean girls who do are any less of a person or not worthy of respect. 

“Even when she was in elementary and middle school, she always chose computers as her choice of centers while all the other more popular girls seemed to cluster together in art or reading.”

There’s. Nothing. Wrong. With. Being. Into. Art. Or. READING. No no no no no NO - we’re trying to bypass these cliche tropes, not fall face first right into them. Dimple can be into whatever she pleases - but NOT at the expense of putting down those who aren’t, who explore other passions or even have no passions even. Other questionable moments:

“Her booty shorts also barely covered her booty.” 


“Really, it was sort of refreshing to have a boy prefer her company to a girl like Isabelle’s.” 


“Of course Isabelle was up for it. She'd probably even eat carbs for that amount of attention.” 


“She refused to be one of those girls who gave up on everything they'd been planning simply because a boy entered the picture.” 


So many wrongs comments, oh my oh my. The way a girl dresses is NOT a representation of her character or a portal through which to degrade her or judge her. Using a boy’s preference of company is NOT a way to asses your own worth or diminish another girl’s. DON’T TALK SHIT ABOUT CARBS YO. And the last one? Don’t even. Pursuing a career and not focusing on a relationship - GREAT. Focusing on a relationship and putting your career second - GREAT. WHY ARE EITHER OF THESE OPTIONS  A PROBLEM?! Even if someone wanted to give up all worldly aspirations and spend their life imitating a cucumber, WHO THE EFF CARES? 

Moving on. Dimple, not cool yeah - not cool. She talks so much about how she perceives herself being judged by the “Aberzombies” again - where she judges another group of people - and yet she’s the one who is incessantly making comments about them? Irony, where you at. Sadly there’s just so many things I disliked about her character - I know she was meant to be a strong, fierce, fiery and ambitious character - but she just comes across as rude, judgemental, and frankly batshit. There was also a lack of focus on the ACTUAL coding part - she’s at this convention, but a lot of the time is spent wandering around with Rishi or trying to come up with a dance routine for a talent contest (moment to wtf pls?). Sigh sigh sigh.

This review is getting so long - so I’m going to wrap it up here folks. I sadly did not connect with any of the characters in this book - there was SO MUCH promise in this book, but it all fell flat as the usual YA tropes made entrances and ruined everything for me. It’s a no from me *Simon Cowell moment*. This book COULD have been spectacular, the ideas were all there - the characters ready to be fleshed out - but the execution left much to be desired. I know the author is coming out with another book, From Twinkle, With Love - which I will still pick up next year - but I’ll be going in with caution. For now - that’s it #OverAndOut 

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