Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got A Life by Kaavya Viswanathan: Impressions

"D.E.L.I.B.E.R.A.T.E. The book has deliberate written all over it."  
"This is the kind of book you buy only pirated copies of."

A few chapters into How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got A Life, and I had decided that my review would start with either of these opening words. I had heard about the book (although I didn't remember the hows and whats) and had picked up a copy from the second-hand bookseller when I saw it. I hadn't Googled it as a policy for a fear of bias, but while looking for an image of the cover of the book on the Net, I stumbled upon some rather unwholesome facts about it. And now the only opening word I can think of for this book review is: *headshake*.

As if the book wasn't bad enough, it turns out to be one accused of some serious plagiarism as well. Now I not only have Kaavya Viswanathan's writing skills to snub, but her taste in books too. I can imagine her poring over endless chick-lit novels, marking carefully the paragraphs she fancies and enventually modifying it a little before shamelessly copying it onto her manuscript.

The sin of copy-paste apart, the book is still lame and someone tells me it was once on the Crossword Bestlesser list and I wonder how. Every line reads like a concerted effort to be funny or emotional or both. Sure no one forced me to read a teenage novel by a teenager, but how a book bearing mostly designer fluff, sprinkled with some show-offy Physics can do so well (at least before the plagiarism charges) is beyond me.

The plot is simple. Opal Mehta's Harvard dreams force her to change from geek to glam overnight. Following her family's strange POA, Opal goes from being nerdy to popular to joke stock and back to being an academic heroine before finally getting into Harvard and landing a boyfriend. The book has been written in a painfully over-the-top manner and one can't be sure if it is meant to reflect the raging hormones of the writer/character or her lack of skillful restrain. Perhaps if Kaavya Viswanathan had, ahem...borrowed a little less and written a little more, the book would have been genuine, just what Opal Mehta wants to be.  


Soumyadeep said...

1 thng i likd about d book is its acronyms.....

can be read...though it became a bit lengthy at d end...& i ws hurrying to finish it....


Urmi Chanda Vaz said...

You're kidding me, Soumyadeep! The acronyms were my definition of cheesy. No?