Yes, I know I know! I am way too late to write this review. Half Girlfriend is old story now! I read this book few weeks ago, so I am sorry for the being so late to write a review.
I am not a great a great fan of Chetan Bhagat stories. My friend recommended this book to me saying “It Was Awesome”. Before starting the book, I checked what other’s had to say about it. DNA newspaper termed it as old wine in new bottle. On goodreads and other websites, I read mixed reviews. So I started this book with an open mind. No expectations at all!
Cover, Storyline and Characters:-
The cover design of this book was beautiful. But not something that will catch your eye.
The story revolves around Madhav Jha, a poor guy from Bihar who wants to be successful and wants to help his mother in the development of their town. He develops a crush on a girl who he meets in his college. Riya Somani, belongs to a rich family from Delhi. She likes playing basketball and is in the same college as Madhav. She likes someone but doesn’t want to admit it. She keeps sending mixed vibes to Madhav and agrees to be his “half girlfriend”.
So I am not an extremely professional reviewer or something but i would like to share my opinions about this book. These are my HONEST opinions. Firstly, I have read Chetan’s 2 books, and I have noticed he writes in simple English. He doesn’t use complicated and difficult to understand types words which was good for me as I didn’t had to sit with a dictionary beside me. So I would like to give a plus one for his simple English writing.
The story started well, but it slowly became quite predictable. Chetan Bhagat has a cameo (maybe that’s what they call it) in this book. Ah! The quota story! Sports quota! The lead, who doesn’t know to converse in English properly and has a bad score, gets admission in a highly reputed college on the basis of sports quota.
It also shows governmental inefficiency, corrupt politicians, apathy in rural primary education, declining girl school enrolment, absence of toilets in rural schools etc. It also delves into marital violence, mother-in-law’s harassment, philanthropy by American citizens, class divides, caste divides, lung cancer, death, depression and pain. Read ahead!
He then meets the 2nd main character who also happens to get admission through the quota system. He starts developing feelings for her. Madhav wants to make her his girlfriend, but she refuses. So he keeps on pestering her! Ah! Another great example where the stalker has become the hero.
He demands that they get physical. He even forces himself on her with the words, I quote, “Deti hai to de, warna katle”. Obviously, she parts ways with him. And yet throughout the whole book we pray that these two meet again! Now begins the most predictable part. The story from here on takes a major Bollywood/ Indian TV serial type of turn.
She leaves and gets married to someone else. He goes back to his hometown after knowing the truth and getting depressed. There he helps his mother in her mission to improve the village. There is a time leap. After years they meet again and, like every Indian TV serial, she is divorced and he see’s another opportunity.
But because his mother doesn’t like her, she leaves by lying to him saying she is going to die. Another leap, and now he realises she is alive. With the help of Bill Gate’s Foundation (Yes! Bill Gates is there in the book!) he goes to find her. Madhav goes in search of her in New York. After three months of extensively searching (Yes, another leap), he finds her at a jazz event and the two reconcile. Back to the future, the lead couple is now happily married and have a son.
The story is very much predictable. At one point, I was playing a guessing game with myself by guessing what’s next! And I was right 80% of the time. I feel the whole purpose the book was written is so that a movie could be made.
The concept is very similar to some other books I feel. And, as long as I know, this will never happen in real life. I mean which high class girl would fall for a guy who can’t speak English, has no other talent other than playing Basketball, stalks and harasses a girl, comes off strong and desperate physically and then uses harsh language!
So should you go for this book?
If you’re a fan of Bollywood drama, like, “Ja Simran, Jee le apni Zindagi” types, or a Chetan Bhagat Fan, you will surely love this book. But if you have been reading great novels by other authors, this is a No No for you.
Book: Half Girlfriend
Author: Chetan Bhagat
Publisher: Rupa Publications
Price: Rs 176/-