Thursday 20 July 2017

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Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya MenonNetGalleyWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (eProof) - The arranged-marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed...

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?
From Goodreads.

I had been looking forward to reading When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon since I heard it was being published in the UK. There's been so much hype around this book, and it sounded so good, I knew I was just going to love it. Unfortunately, I didn't.

I'm going to talk about what I liked about it first. I loved how feminist Dimple was, and how she was determined to fight back against what she considered to be patriarchal traditions of her culture. She hated how her mother would always criticise her for not trying to look pretty or for not wearing make-up, because how was she was supposed to get a husband otherwise? Dimple believed her mother thought a woman's role was to get married and have a family, but that's not what she wanted, she wanted a career, and a life on her own terms. I loved that about her, and I love how she fought for it.

At the same time, I also loved how traditional Rishi was, and how much respect he had for his parents and how he trusted them to find him a suitable match. I didn't always agree with him, but I didn't need to to respect him for placing value on his cultural heritage, and believing that an arranged marriage was what would ultimately bring him happiness. He didn't want romance, he wanted a long lasting bond, like his parents have.

I loved how passionate both Dimple and Rishi were - Dimple about coding, Rishi about his comic book art. But whereas Dimple was heading for her dream of becoming a coder, Rishi had decided to put aside his love of comic book art to pursue Engineering, a much more practical job that would earn him a good wage so he could look after his future family.

I loved the diversity of the book. Almost all the characters were people of colour; Dimple, Rishi and their families are Indian American, as is Hari, one of the "Aberzombies" - a clique Dimple and Rishi don't like. Rishi's family are Hindu, and I believe Dimple's are, too. Celia, Dimple's room mate, is half Dominican, and I bisexual, although no label is given. And Dimple's father has Diabetes.

However, I didn't feel Dimple and Rishi had any chemistry whatsoever. Yeah, they enjoyed each other's company and had a good time together, but they felt more like friends to me than two people who were falling in love with each other. And because I didn't feel it, I wasn't rooting for them - I just wasn't bothered. Not that it mattered really, because the story was so predictable. You knew exactly where things were going from the very beginning. Being so predictable may not have mattered so much if I felt there was something real between Dimple and Rishi, because then I would have just enjoyed watching things come about, but as I didn't, the predictability was so frustrating.

When Dimple Met Rishi is cute, everyone says so, and I agree - but I'd go so far as to say that it's too cute. There were so many moments that were just so cheesy, and I rolled my eyes more times than I could count. Although Dimple and Rishi's path to love isn't perfect, and definitely not easy, the book itself felt to me like a "perfect romance novel" - by which I mean that you know, while reading, that it's all going to be so cute, everything will work out, and there will be that happy ever after, there's no question about this - and so it felt fictional. It wasn't a story I could believe was real. I was very much aware that this was just a story the whole way through. It wasn't real enough to be believable for me.

And then there's the problem with not much actually happening. Once Dimple and Rishi get together, it's all mooning at each other and swooning. Nothing happens for them, not really. Not until pretty close to the end. And then a subplot around Rishi's brother Ashish comes out of left field, so suddenly, in to time at all, and it just felt like it was added in so that something was happening with someone, even if nothing was happening with Dimple and Rishi. It gave them something else to think about besides each other, I suppose.

Finally, there's Insomnia Con. Where Dimple and Rishi meet, a Summer course in coding that Dimple is over the moon to be going to, as it will help for when she starts at Stanford, and she may get to meet her hero Jenny Lindt. My problem is that I finished the book knowing as much about coding as did when I started - namely, nothing. Dimple is so passionate, but all she talks about is how much she loves it, the app she wants to create, and how she wants it to help her diabetic father. There is absolutely nothing about coding itself. There's nothing about why Dimple loves coding, not even something vaguely poetic about how awesome it is to write a piece of code, stringing characters together in this computer language that will translate into the big, bad boss guy getting closer to you if you haven't tracked your medication or food into the app. Nothing about how she got into coding, nothing about what they actually get taught in their classes, nothing about coding itself. It felt so lazy, like not enough research was done. I'm not expecting Menon to be a coding expert, but there should be something. Yes, this is a romance, but becoming a coder is Dimple's dream, this is what she's fighting for, fighting against her culture. It's so important to the overall plot, yet there's absolutely nothing about it. And while we're talking about Insomnia Con, what was going on with that talent show? Why was it even there? Why, at a convention for learning coding, would you have the students then put on a show for various talents that have nothing to do with coding, and make it a pivotal part of the course (because the winners win points for their overall score, but also a grand, which they can spend on working on their app)? It was so random. I really didn't get it. It broke up the swooning, and gave Ashish something to do while he was there, helping Dimple and Rishi choreograph a Bollywood dance, but it was just confusing and weird, and I didn't get it.

When Dimple Met Rishi was just hugely disappointing. Really just not for me. But there have been a lot of people who loved it, so do read other reviews before deciding whether to read it or not.

Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton via NetGalley for the eProof.

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Published: 13th July 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Sandhya Menon's Website

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  1. Aww I'm so sad you didn't like it! I LOVED it! Although I agree I thought there'd be more actual coding in it? Although in hindsight it's probably a good thing there wasn't because I don't understand coding anyway and I would've gotten lost.😭😂😂 Rishi and Dimple were both suuuper cute IMO and I loved them together! :D

    I hope you enjoy your next read more!

    1. I know, I was so looking forward to it! It just wasn't for me I guess. The coding thing really bugged me. If she's so into coding, why not talk about it? I think it could have been done in a way that those of us who know nothing about it (me included) could still understand. It just seemed kind of lazy to me. But I'm really glad you enjoyed it!

      Thanks! Sadly, I did not enjoy my next read at all. Oh well.

  2. Thank you! :) It was such a shame, because I was so looking forward to it :(