Note: We received this title from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in a book. If it’s shocking to you, it’s shocking to me too because I thought I was going to love this. It was one of my most anticipated releases and I was so excited to read an #OwnVoices story about teenagers of Indian descent. And for the most part, the elements of Indian culture and passion for your own heritage was my favourite part of the book. It delivered that, but that was the ONLY thing it delivered for me.
So, let’s just pros and cons everything about this book, from character to plot to actual writing:PRO: Dimple wears glasses and is ambivalent towards make up. A girl with glasses? And she doesn’t take them off, blink away her short sightedness and become more beautiful?? That trope can go and die. Dimple was like if Mia in The Princess Diaries movie didn’t have her make-over and I was living for it.
CON: The number of bloody times I had to read the words ‘Insomnia Con’. It’s not even a good name! They have six weeks to code an app, not 24 hours. Speaking of which, when did they actually work on the app? I signed up for a book about a female protagonist interested in STEM subjects, and she and Rishi spent about 0.45% of the book actually talking about what they were there to do! Where was the montage? Where was the detail? I wanted Mary Kate and Ashley movie levels of commitment to the task, and got literally zip.
PRO: Online friendships. Celia and Dimple as best friends who met online was such a cute touch.
CON: Rishi being a dick about it. We’re talking about a boy who wants to be in a relationship with a girl he hasn’t seen in the flesh for ten years, and he’s concerned about Dimple’s safety when meeting a stranger? Look in the mirror, man. It’s the same thing.
PRO: Indian culture and discussion of race. When the Rich White Girl made a comment about their ‘unusual’ names and Rishi just shut her down and made a fool of her disguised racism, I wanted to applaud.
CON: Talent contest in the middle of a tech event. Are you telling me that the winners of Insomnia Con are mostly chosen from the people that dance well?? What kind of nonsense was that? While I really liked the Bollywood dancing, it felt thrown in as a token Indian experience rather than being necessary to the plot.
CON: Little Comic Con. Not only is it another bad name, but it just added to the general sense of bittiness this plot had. Rishi wanted to have a traditional arranged marriage like his parents and was passionate about his culture but STILL managed to have the ‘it’s not my dream, it’s yours’ conversation with his parents when it came to his career path. Defying tropes and then falling back on them was odd.
CON: Setting up the romance. I despise, and I mean despise sentences like ‘she didn’t know why his absence made her heart hurt’. That’s a paraphrase, but it comes up a few times and it’s just lazy! I want characters to a r t i c u l a t e their feelings, regardless of how messy they are, not rely on sentences like this to make the reader put it together. (Okay, I went into my highlights and found an exact quote: ‘Dimple wondered why that thought [Rishi dropping out of Insomnia Con] sat like a ball of lead in her stomach.’
I think D and R got together too quickly. By 50%, they’re in a romantic place, and so some out-of-place things had to happen to keep the book going. Don’t even get me started on the younger brother and Celia romance that came out of nowhere…
PRO: Dimple and Rishi remaining authentic to who they were before they met each other when they began their relationship.
CON: The writing style. This was the biggest let down, because it’s so easy for romance contemporaries to become cheesy and stunted, and just a sequence of events rather than building to something. ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’ was a victim to all of that. The dialogue was terrible (when a character’s speech act goes on for a whole page, something is wrong) and read like it hadn’t been read aloud to see if it sounded genuine.
Examples of speech that made me laugh for all the wrong reasons:
a. ‘You guys named a natural weather phenomenon?’ – Oh, you mean like how the Met Office names every hurricane/tornado?? Is San Fransisco calling their fog Karl that weird?
b. ‘It was Oscar-worthy. Or, you know, whatever the award was for costumes.’ – Like the Oscar for Best Costume Design, perhaps?
I’ve probably written enough on all of this now, but it’s safe to say, I didn’t enjoy it. If you loved it, and disagree with every single word I’ve written, that’s amazing and I wish we could swap places because nothing is worse than wanting to love a book SO much, and not clicking with it.