The boy who loved by Dujoy Datta was published recently…and is currently in the Top selling category on amazon in contemporary romance. Further ahead I am going to critically review this book.
I don’t have to tell you why people read books… But many of us read books to dive deep into the thought process, experience the tell-tale, and above all for being entertained. Some do it just for the “author reader tizzy” where in reader guesses what’s coming and likes the unexpected whereas the author loves being unpredictable and beating the reader’s thought process.
I am sure you will avoid a book that will leave you disheartened, dejected, despaired, gloomy, and sad. But then some of the most popular fiction works carry unexpected dash of everything that’s life… a story with issues, problems and times and then how they deal with it in gloom, pain, despair or even having a great time.
So If you are open minded about reading little darker side of life and also being entertained, look no further as Durjoy Datta’s latest book—The Boy Who Loved.
Now I am not reviewing this book to tell you that everything is great with this book, in-fact I am going to do a “critical autopsy” that will let you pick this book with confidence and read it without being lured into setting an unreasonable expectation.
However,you should also understand that reading further from here will let you know more about this book than you might want.
Plot and Storyline: The Boy Who Loved is a story of an insecure teenager, Raghu Ganguly, who is hung in the dilemma of committing suicide. Raghu looks out for the taller and the tallest building in and around his house for his vested interest.
He thinks he has killed his best friend Sami by drowning him into the swimming pool. This guilt never leaves Raghu, and he wants to end his life.
However, in the middle of the book, a sudden stroke of luck gives Raghu all reasons to rethink about ending his life. And that happens when he feels inclined towards fellow classmate Brahmi Sharma.
Brahmi has her own bleak past…Like her sudden disappearances, the cut marks on her wrist, and her suspicious behavior attract Raghu towards her, and the two fall in love with each other.
Later, Raghu finds out that just like him Brahmi too is possessed by suicidal tendencies.
There are several ups and down in the book and in Raghu’s life for that matter. He carries dislike for his parents, his friends, his brother. He also hates his neighbors. In fact, he hates everyone in the world except Brahmi and his brother’s wife whom he calls Boudi.
The plot is weak, and the story is fractured. No groundwork is laid before introducing an event or a scene. The reader is left wondering what is going on and where did that come from. One such instance is the sudden portrayal of the death of one of the supporting characters towards the end of the book.
Characters: The book has quite a bunch of intriguing and really crazy characters including the lead pair Raghu and Brahmi. The characters are painted to be more on the unbelievable side. Characters seem to be unlikable, clumsy, and quite irritating at times.
Raghu and Brahmi both are highly unlikable and unrealistic as well. You can’t work out how he looks like. There is no physical description of the character named Raghu or the character named Brahmi, the lead pair, let alone the other supporting characters.
It’s hard to connect to any of the characters of the book. Reason—all the characters including the main ones fall flat throughout the read. It appears the author gets so much involved in giving readers a bumpy ride that he loses out on developing his characters, making them vivid so that readers can visualize them, feel a connection with them, or relate to them. I don’t know anything about Raghu except that he is a gawky teenager with suicidal tendencies, a bookworm, and is preparing for the IITs. (Tell me if I was wrong after you read the book)
As far as the character of Brahmi is concerned, I can work out that she is a mysterious girl who despite being the monitor of her class remains alone and aloof. She bunks classes and goes to have milkshakes and burgers during school hours. And, yeah, she also suffers from maniac behaviors and suicidal tendencies. All other characters of Maa, Baba, Dada, Boudi, Raghu’s friends just seem like fillers except Didima. I, in fact, enjoyed reading about her. I find her character believable and realistic. Her mental condition is described nicely, and I appreciate the author for creating such a lively and vibrant character of a sick fussy old lady like Didima.
Scenes and Narrative Summary (Show versus Tell) and Pacing:
- The book is a complete tell-tale as Raghu is writing a diary. There are very few occurrences where you can actually feel any action or things happening. This slows down the pace of the book. There are high chances that you might feel bored by the drag the book offers. Perhaps, you will skim through the pages to reach the end. Perhaps, you put the book in the DNF (Do Not Finish) category.
- The author appears struggling with creating actionable scenes and sequences to make the book lively. It is a dull boring read that is largely depended on its illogically written prose or narration. Misused words, misspelled words, missing punctuation, wrong word choices are found in abundance.
- There are certain extra-long sentences that are hard to read and decipher contributing to the readability issues.
- There are some missing punctuation errors. Example: Unlike me he doesn’t have to pretend to be happy. A comma is needed after unlike me. There are many more occurrences like this throughout the book.
- There are quite a lot of passive sentences throughout the book that make the writing even weaker and harder to read.
- There are some strange word choices and quite a lot occurrence of flowery or purple prose. It appears as if the author has opened the thesaurus and replaced the easy words with its difficult counterparts. Even the mundane things are described with great difficulty.
- If you’re an avid reader, the one thing that is going to bother you throughout the read is verb inconsistencies. The author suddenly jumps from the past to present and vice versa within the same paragraph and often within the same sentence without letting you catch your breaths. This can make it harder for you to realize if the things are happening at present or they had already happened in the past.
Ex1: One-such example is “It makes her happy. Maa’s obsession and deep love for me is now old news. Maa had no choice in the matter.” (No paragraph change. The first two sentences are present tense the third sentence is in past tense)
Ex2: What if she woke up looking for me and finds me gone? (Within the same sentence one past and one present tense.)
Ex3: My heart fluttered and it shows in the picture that was clicked.
- There are quite a lot of meaningless sentences, and the reader will have a hard time to decipher what the author or in fact Raghu is trying to communicate.
Ex1: As I am often wont to do, during the first week I lied to myself that I hadn’t been looking for her face in others.
What does the highlighted sentence mean? May be it’s an editing error, I wonder…
Some more “construction issues”.
Ex2: “If we were serious about it we would have done it by now, not matter what the means.”
“The teachers would think Sahil was in on it as well. Let it go,” said Brahmi.
And when it did, Brahmi and Sahil passed the piece of paper between each other, disbelief writ large on their face. (I think it should be—disbelief written large on their faces. Isn’t it?)
“Why are you here? I thought I had made it plenty clear that we shouldn’t have to do anything with each other.” (What is plenty clear—again an editing error?)
“I think I was plenty clear that we shouldn’t be in touch anymore.” (Is it pretty clear?)
All our meetings post her joining work clicked into place and I realized she had never not worn full-sleeved shirts. (never not together?)
Baba wasn’t just words. He had papers drawn up that said Boudi and Boudi alone, if and when she changes her religion, would be the sole heir to all that the Ganguly’s owned.
- There are certain unhygienic descriptions in the book. Perhaps, the author has tried hard to trigger some kind of emotional response in the reader. But a reader like me simply gets withdrawn and feels extremely yucky and disgusted reading the bitch delivering a puppy on a girl’s skirt and then the girl goes to attend her class in the same uniform.
Dialogues: Dialogues are wooden and stilted across the board, no matter between whom the conversations are taking place.
If you’re an avid fiction reader, you must know how irritating it is to see numerals written in the dialogues. Yeah, you can read numerals in the narrative but not in the dialogues.
Ex1: “Where were you, Dada? Don’t tell me you were at the office like you told Maa. I called and they said you had left at 9. So where were you” I asked.
Ex2: “Zubeida? Where? How? Till 3.”
Ex3: “I’m working at a call centre in Gurgaon. It’s a shit place to live in but the job is good, pays me Rs 8000.”
I would prefer something like this—“It’s a shit place to live in, but the job is good, pays me eight thousand bucks.”
There are many more occurrences like this.
Scene Transitions: The other problem that can keep you drawing away from the book is that there are no # or * signs to separate the time frames or the scenes or events. Everything goes in continuation. The author jumps from one day to another and from one week to another without giving the reader any hint about the upcoming.
Scene transitions would have been improved and also consecutive paragraphs are not succinct.
Modal Verb Abuses: The two modal verbs that are abused throughout the book are “Used To” and “Would Have.”
There is one whole chapter dedicated to “Would Have” where each and every sentence of a chapter has one or two or even three would have’s.
Ex: In the first few microseconds, Dada would have taken it lightly, thought the flame would be little and brief, but in the very next moment, he would have thought otherwise, his body floating, golden flames licking every part him. He would have felt the searing heat, he would have felt the skin melt off him, his organs would have singed.
Overall Impression: The Boy Who Loved by Durjoy Dutta is one strange romance novel…But yet entertaining and original.
To me, the book often reads like a Young Adult Psychological Suspense novel. Sometimes, it reads like a General Knowledge book detailing the affairs and events that took over the country during the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
Sometimes it sounds like a philosophical book preaching about life and death, pain and pleasure, good and bad and so more. But not a single time, not even once and not even for a fraction of a second it feels like a romance novel to me.
The author keeps on enriching the reader with his immense general knowledge of 1947 partition to 1970s emergency to the Sikh riots to Gandhi’s death leaving the reader wandering if they have bought a contemporary romance book or a historical encyclopedia or a history textbook.
Also, at many places, it takes you to a zone where you think that perhaps something romantic is going to happen between Raghu and Brahmi but then disappoints you as the couple just roams the streets, drinks tea, smokes cigarettes, walks in the parks, hand in hand, but never gets physical. Raghu even sees Brahmi’s naked back and applies bandages on it, but never tries to kiss her to make her feel better…(I would have loved to take a romantic tailspin right there 🙂 )
To kiss or not and when is not something I can impose but then kiss is not always sexual. It can be a gesture of emotional support, bonding, sympathy…And I feel the book kind of lacks these emotions.
The story is written in a way making it difficult to follow the story line. It jumps around, dropping in unrelated utterances. Scenes are left incomplete before moving on to something totally unrelated.
Overall, the story is quite depressing, and the ending can tip you off the edge. If you hate cliffhangers, the abrupt ending perhaps even leave you in a lurch.
All in all the love story is bit strangely placed…But I like the mix!
This was my take on The Boy Who Loved. Hope you liked my style of review and if you did do leave likes and comments to keep me motivated…and I will keep them coming.
Time for a cuppa coffee and a walk. Talk Soon!
Click Here to have a look inside of The Boy Who Loved