Daily Archives: February 15, 2013

Book Review: The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup

The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup Title: The Accidental Apprentice
Author: Vikas Swarup
Publisher: Simon and Schuster India
ISBN: 978-1-47112-824-0
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 436
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3/5

I had heard a lot about his new book from my friends. Though I sort of like Q and A and had not read Six Suspects, I thought of trying this one. I mean, it is good to get away from literary fiction once in a while and reading some pop fiction as well. It doesn’t hurt and at the same time I could observe a writer’s style and technique, which I sort of liked in Q and A. Though I must say that I did not like the movie Slumdog Millionaire however that is another story altogether.

“The Accidental Apprentice” is meant to read like a pot-boiler, thriller, and everything else rolled into one and it does. The book showed promise at the prologue. The story seemed to me like something out of the T.V. Show, “The Apprentice” however it was not that. “The Accidental Apprentice” is about Sapna Sinha, a middle-class working girl from Delhi, who by chance (or is it?) meets Vinay Mohan Acharya, one of India’s richest men who makes her an offer which she does not think is viable to begin with. However with her personal problems getting the better of her, she takes up the offer and has to prove herself through seven tests from the “textbook of life” (as the book states) or the deal is off.

The reader is then witness to the seven tests and the ways in which Sapna is tested, what qualities are needed to become the CEO of Acharya’s company. That is the deal, and then of course there is more to what meets the eye. The book also looks at Sapna’s life – her family, the tragedy in her life and speaks of the people close to her. The book ends on a surprising note though. It took me a long time to get through this one. The seven tests are taken from current affairs and somewhere down the line lose their touch. They almost become predictable and the writing cannot do much to save it. I had enjoyed Q and A to some extent and was sort of expecting the same from The Accidental Apprentice, given the similarity of the plot. In the former it was questions at a game show and the later had seven tests of life.

I guess I should not have tried to expect anything from the book. The plot is racy for sure but loses the reader somewhere down the line. It took me some time to finish reading this one. I did not struggle with it; however it was not an easy read either after the first one hundred and seventy five pages. I had to keep myself going only to reach the end and expect something very far-fetched. “The Accidental Apprentice” is only recommended to those who have not read any of Vikas Swarup’s books and that too only depends if they would like to read it after going through the prologue. I gave it a 3-star only because of the writing in bits and parts that is effective and the overall plot, which definitely had more potential.

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Book Review: I Kissed A Frog and Other Stories by Rupa Gulab

I Kissed A Frog and Other Stories by Rupa Gulab Title: I Kissed A Frog and Other Stories
Author: Rupa Gulab
Publisher: PAN India
ISBN: 978-93-82616-05-4
Genre: Short Stories, Chick-Lit
Pages: 222
Source: Publisher
Rating: 3.5/5

Let me start by saying that I do not read chick-lit. The genre doesn’t interest me at all. Not because I am a man, but because I think that most chick-lit is only about generalizing men with the age-old tag, “All Men Are Bastards” and it is fact, or at least what I tried reading of chick-lit in the past. So I wonder sometimes, how many bastards have some women really known to make such sweeping statements? It must have then been very sad for them to know such kind of men. May be at some level the expectations of the genders are different and hence the so-called, “divide”. Well, having said all of this, I thought why not give chick-lit one more go and I then started reading, “I Kissed A Frog and Other Stories” by Rupa Gulab.

The book as the title suggests is a collection of short stories, seventeen to be precise and spread across three sections. So the sections are on love, friendship and modern-age fairy tales. I enjoyed the stories and at the same time felt strongly that in some places, it was only the woman’s perspective that was visible. The undertones or sometimes overtones of feminism (I do not know if this is the right word to use here, however I shall) were present throughout the book. Having said that, for me some stories stood out the most. “Au Revoir”, a beautiful story of letting go of friendship in the face of death and “Welcome to the Sisterhood” with its not so unique theme and yet definitely so for our country was bittersweet and left me with a big broad grin. “The Ex Files” on the other hand seemed straight out of a romantic comedy, which ends with finding a new relationship closer to home. “Diet Wars” was forced writing according to me and I am glad it ended soon. “Heavy Weather” is the kind of story that you wish would happen to you. It is ideal in every single way.

I loved the modern-age fairy tales a lot. They are short and to the point and also make you laugh. By that point in the book, I had also gotten used to the women driving the plot and getting things their way. The writing is refreshing and razor-sharp. Ms. Gulab knows how to use her words and when to strike them. The book is a racy read. I finished it in one sitting and did not want to let go. I would definitely read “The Great Depression of the 40s” as it seems very interesting and at the same time different from this one. All I can say is that I am glad I read “I Kissed a Frog” because I needed that change of mind and had to get away from heavy-handed literary fiction. I would recommend it to those looking for a light read.

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