By Abhinav Shrivastava and Prerna Verma. Grade: B+
I believe that the books which mean the most to you are either those which make you feel a part of its story, or the ones which remind you of someone from your life who is closest to one of the characters. This time I read ‘The Dumb and The Dumbfounded’ by Abhinav Shrivastava & Prerna Verma, which not only reminded me of many of my old mates, but also narrated a story that took the tales of friendship to a new dimension.
Mr. Shrivastava and Ms. Verma, graduates of Amity University and Delhi University, have more than 500 articles under their pen. Apart from writing, they work for social causes such as the fight against female foeticide, cerebral palsy and right to education. ‘The Dumb and The Dumbfounded’ is their first fiction novel.
For few, college is the temple of learning, for some it is their ticket to romance, for others it is a place to make new friends, creating countless memories!
What does ‘college’ mean to you?
Does it remind you of your ‘best friend?’
The friend who has been there, shared your dreams, acted as an advisor and an agony aunt!
But what if this same ‘friend’ betrays you, tries to sabotage your career and threatens to reveal every single detail of your life?
Would you sit in a corner and sob? Or would to stand up and retaliate?
‘The Dumb and the Dumbfounded’ is a tale of two friends- Aarav and Dhruv, who embark on a thrilling ride of life.
But soon the thin line between thrill and fright starts to dissipate.
Aarav begins to lead a ‘dual life.’
Dhruv gives a new meaning to IIT.
And one of them discovers other’s plans.
Would they forgive and forget? Or would they seek vengeance? But first, they have to make the ends meet, without actually making them meet!
This is a journey where there’s nothing right or wrong.
Right from the cover jacket, the book marks its presence. The cover is unusually good. It is nowhere in sync with the story, but still it stands apart from the regular cover jacket designs. Later some more designs of the same have been introduced, which are equally good as well. The back blurb is one of my favorite, because it doesn’t give away much about the story, but still manages to convey the right idea.
‘The Dumb and The Dumbfounded’ is a story about two friends Dhruv and Aarav, (Tada! It’s not another campus love story!) who are made for each other (Tada! It’s not a gay-love story either), and are trying to find the purpose of their lives. In course of finding this purpose, they start to drift apart, but their fate keeps bringing them closer again and again; making them remember the bond they share. To support their lives, Aarav has Medha, an intelligent girl with angelic beauty, and Dhruv has IIT: Ishanvai, Ira and Trisha.
The story is divided into five parts: campus life, the last few years of college, professional life, the ‘marriage’ dilemma, and post marriage. The narration is somewhat similar to the TV-serials; every chapter ends at a cliffhanger. Only the horrible music they place in Ekta Kapoor serials is missing. While it’s a good technique in some chapters, in others it only served to break the flow, and led to inappropriate and artificial chapter breaks. However, the narration does have a strong grip on the reader’s mind which is maintained throughout the book, which not only makes it hard to put down, but a cover-to-cover read as well.
When I read these lines on Page 173, it made me realize that it’s the most beautiful description of death I’ve ever read:
“He was dead.
No trace of pain, no sufferings, no victimization.”
And another on the same page:
“I felt that he slept for a while and woke up for an eternity.”
The authors used simple English that would appeal to nouveau reader, but avid readers looking for fancy word play and subtext might be disappointed. At times there are too many unnecessary details and then no details at all. There are some chapters which are written as pages of a diary, which could have been made more engrossing if the authors had decided to avoid using the same format for the rest of the chapters. However, witty one-liners and a strong sense of realization of truth bring a smile and keep the reader turning the pages.
To conclude my review, I would say that the authors did a decent job with ‘The Dumb…’ and hit the right chord with most of the young readers. Better chapter breaks would have enhanced the reading experience and could have saved it from becoming a Bollywood-inspired novel. The book is not enough to satisfy avid readers, but is a wonderful read for beginners and casual readers. The best thing about ‘The Dumb…’ is that it stays away from the cliched debuts: no love triangle, and no ‘stuffed’ sexual encounters.
Note to Publishers: I must confess that this is the first book I’ve read from ABC Publishers. ABC Publishers, I’m quite impressed with the page quality and editing of the book. I hope the book is well marketed in the target regions, because it does hold a lot of potential considering the average Indian reader’s mindset. Keep up the good work.