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Friday 1 November 2013

Book review: Five Point Someone by Chetan Bhagat

To put simply, Five Point Someone is a story of three friends, Ryan, Alok and Hari who land up in IIT, and don't give it a damn. Yet, they have their own stories to narrate, their own experiences to share and their own selves to discover. It is as much a story of their transformation from Five Pointers (labels derived from their CGPA) to five point someone, as it is about the lacunae in our education system.

The author warns at the very outset that it is NOT a guide to survive your college days, but revolves around “what not to do at IIT”. This is indeed one of the direst warnings, since the plot is infused with a plethora of incidents that can put even the sassy and insolent of us to chagrin and mortification. 
Well, that also saves the author from being accused of writing a story, whereby the acts of the protagonists hint at moral corruption time and again. From a different perspective, this book is also an iconoclast in that it reveals the dark side of studying at such prestigious institute as IIT, what with the inherently high expectations, among other usual criticisms (about mugging and cramming) made of the education system.
For a reader, there's enough to treat the eyes, a senior who looks like a demon from cheap mythological TV shows, a terrific troika of protagonists, drudgery of routine that makes fun conspicuous by its absence, insipid food at the hotel mess, being reinvigorated to study with dedication and commitment in the aftermath of a bad quiz performance, a professor's daughter-turned-girlfriend of the narrator, a  piece of advice for friend trying to play the pacifier: if you just paraphrase everyone's arguments, you get to be the good guy... you get the drift.

As far as the theme goes, the author seems genuinely concerned about addressing the flaws of the education system when he remarks,”Where is the time for creativity? Where is the room for original thought?” but the sad part is that eventually, even the passionate Ryan after exhibiting much of his creativity in a project, ends up succumbing to the demand of the curriculum to rote-memorize. The reader can only be thankful that he has at least abandoned all his strategies and shortcuts-to-success-formula!

No mention of this book is perhaps complete without reference to its cinematic counterpart, the much loved film 3 idiots. Even if you try to remain objective, one is forced to conclude that the movie has outdone the book in ways more than one.

Well, I would say that I have tried a couple of times to like Bhagat's fiction pieces, even to the extent of ransacking them to find any meaning behind them. And I have failed this time too, like always, now I have understood that the meaning behind the words penned by him in his fiction is not hidden, but hideous. Still, in sharp contrast I am in love with his non-fiction. Yet, if you are game for an easy-to-read contemporary novel to add to your list, go ahead and get your copy.


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Kritika's bookshelf: read

Angels & Demons
The Story of My Life
The Hunger Games
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
A Tale of Two Cities
Pride and Prejudice
Jane Eyre
Sense and Sensibility
A Christmas Carol
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
The Time Machine
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
The Da Vinci Code

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