ᴄᴡ: ᴍɪꜱᴏɢʏɴʏ, ꜱᴇxɪꜱᴍ, ᴍɪᴄʀᴏᴀɢɢʀᴇꜱꜱɪᴏɴ, ꜱʟᴜᴛ-ꜱʜᴀᴍɪɴɢ, ʙᴜʟʟʏɪɴɢ, ɴᴏɴ-ɢʀᴀᴘʜɪᴄ ꜱᴇx ꜱᴄᴇɴᴇ, ᴄʟɪᴄʜᴇꜱ.
Dimple Shah knows what she wants and that is to focus on her career. She graduated high school but before attending Stanford in the fall, she wants to participate in the Insomnia Con, a summer program for web developers. But her parents have other plans when they agree to pay for the program. They agreed with their friends to send their son Rishi Patel, a hopeless romantic who respects the customs and traditions, to the same program. With hopes to win over his ‘future wife,’ Rishi doesn’t anticipate Dimple’s reaction. When the two meet, things go quite the opposite of what Rishi was expecting because Dimple was unaware of the setup. Luckily, their story doesn’t end there.
I wanted to love this book so badly but the story lacked consistency, the writing was juvenile and it often forgot about the plot—Dimple wanting to win Insomnia Con which meant getting one step closer to her dreams. The story focused so little on her and Rishi’s efforts to build the app and working hard on achieving her dreams. Instead, it spent time making Dimple seem like a really shitty person. It recycled cliche YA tropes. “I’m not like other girls” is one of the tropes that’s so prominent in this book. Dimple constantly reminds us that she doesn’t want to wear make-up and strongly perceives it as something that would change her if she applied it, that it’d make her someone she’s not. It’s so harmful to portray that because she completely disregards that make-up is a form of self-expression as well.
She’s so judgemental and rude, and at one point she punches Rishi who WINCES and he says others would’ve just playfully slapped him and she has the nerve to say something that directly translates to “I’m not like other girls”.
Here’s the line from the book:
Dimple punched him in the ribs, lighter than she wanted to, but he still winced.
“Ow. You know, most girls just slap guys playfully on the arm or something. They don’t actually hurt them.
“Well, maybe you need to expand your idea of how girls behave.” Dimple replied, grinning.
Abuse. That’s what it is. That’s not something to be proud of. She literally punched him just because he said she didn’t have his artistic vision. And he said that playfully.
Moving onto other things, besides making those “Aberzombies” (the misogynistic, racist bullies) as shallow as possible, Dimple felt the need to rich-shame them too. Don’t get me wrong, the bullies were terrible, but I don’t understand why the author had to follow through with the shallow rich-kids trope. The one part I liked was when Rishi called out one of them for the disguised racism when they said the Indian name was “interesting”. But seriously, if you needed some bullies for the story, at least have the decency to make them three dimensional. Being rich doesn’t equate to a lack of personality and being a bully.
Dimple constantly badmouths her mother for wanting an Ideal Indian Husband for her. Though her mother pushes that at the start, she does evolve and is understanding when it comes to Dimple’s dreams and wishes. It’s disturbing to me the way she talks about her parents–mother especially. All DImple does is complain.
Women are so badly represented in this book. Besides Dimple, you have her online friend, Celia, who she finally gets to meet at Insomnia Con. They become roommates. She’s shown as this girl who hooks up with inappropriate people and makes constant bad decisions when it comes to friendships and sex. She’s the kind of girl who tells Dimple to wear something better, forces her a little even to do so.
The other is Isabella who hangs out with “Aberzombie” bullies and she’s basically called in less than kind words an attention whore who is subdued when it comes to her friends being sexist, misogynistic, and racist. It’s so degrading to be represented like that especially when the counterpart of these ‘feminine, shopping spree, make-up wearing women’ is someone like Dimple who’s “not like other girls”. That’s supposed to make her superior? This book seriously needs a better and healthier representation of women.
The other characters in this book basically had no reason to exist. They weren’t propelling the plot, only dragging it down since it seemed like the author deviated from the plot anyway. They felt like accessories to show some sort of conflict, but it only rendered them dimensionless.
I wasn’t a big fan of Rishi and his Insta-Love plot. These two barely knew each other for 6 weeks and they’ve already exchanged ‘i love yous’. The only thing I liked about Rishi was that he didn’t rebuke his culture and religion as hard as Dimple did. It’s okay to not agree with things in your culture. There are so many things I disagree with. But religion has always be expressed and portrayed so negatively. I just wanted to see a better representation of it—of someone being able to be who they are without compromising their morals and still be able to appreciate their culture. I loved the little moments when the characters spoke in Hindi.
I could go on and on about this but I don’t want to. I gave this book 2 stars for two reasons. One of them being diversity and the other that Rishi didn’t paint the Indian culture in a negative light. There is so much to the Indian culture than what is shown in the books.
To anyone who thought this book was different, it’s really not besides the addition of diverse characters. It lacks in plot, characters, and goes on to portray so many harmful tropes.