I have been repeatedly told not to fall for books with glittering covers, but I’m simply unable to resist. There is also the matter of the blurb on the back. This blurb is invariably written in such excellent language and promises such an exciting journey through the pages that I have now learnt (till next time) to distrust blurbs also. This one had a cover with a red stiletto on it (ok, I know it’s cheesy, but still) and the blurb said it was set in Mumbai, and was delightful, exhilarating, intense and explosive. I really needed a Mumbai book for the hometown box in the challenge, and most books set in Mumbai are very depressing (though Mumbai is not) and weird (which Mumbai is).
This book is, of all things, about a beauty pageant contestant (yes, you read that right) and her experiences in the Miss Something or the Other Contest. The book is so titled because this question (What would you do..?) is asked in the final round and the winner depends upon the answer..ehm..ok..(Totally judging the judges now). The author, Ira Trivedi, seems to have been a beauty pageant contestant herself, and since the book is in the first person, I am inclined to think it’s a diary of sorts. In case you are at this point hoping that there’s some sort of suspense about whether or not the author wins the title, please, stop hoping. The subtitle says it all, right on the cover, in bold, “Confessions of a could-have-been beauty queen”. Now why would you do that, publisher and author, why?
So Riya is a Miss SOTO aspirant and really wants to win the title (don’t we all). She is selected, along with 24 other ladies, for a 25 day training session in a 5 star hotel in Mumbai. What follows is days of unendurable diets and bitchy girls and lots of dirt about the inner workings of the pageant.
I have nothing against first person narratives, or even diaries, for that matter. Unless they lack all emotion and read like the life of a spoon. This one, unfortunately, does exactly that. This, along with the condescending tone that the author adopts throughout the book makes it absolutely insufferable. Riya comes across as an extremely silly and over-confident girl, who thinks (all the time) that the whole pageant is too tacky and beneath her (which, as we all know, is a surefire recipe for success). She also seems to have a bit of a dual personality; some days she’s stunningly beautiful, on others she has beady eyes and has no idea how to apply eyeliner. The other girls are given one dimensional personalities in accordance with the nano level emotional range of the book, and variously described as small-town, desperate, pretty (but not so much), simple and bitchy. There’s a bit of unremarkable bilge about troublesome diets, unfair judges (because Riya didn’t win, obv.), and sleazy random guys, which makes up the rest of this (not a) novel.
Riya doesn’t get past the semifinals (thankfully) and is very shocked and numb, which brings us to the only good part of this book, the ending (no, the ending is not good, it is good because it is the ending). Do not bother with this book even if you get it free, it’s quite the waste of time.
P.S. Please Bhagwan, forgive me if I was unduly vicious here, I believe in karma.. 😛
P.P.S. Ticking off the hometown box.. 🙂