Without You, by Preethi Venugopala is a book I picked up only because I was systematically clearing up the unread books off my shelf. It had been lying there for a while and seeing that I needed something that did not tax my brain too much, given my recent spell (which I’d described in a previous post), I thought now was a good time as any.
Summary: 20 year old girl meets 26 year old boy. Both profess their “love” for each other though they’ve barely had a conversation. He does creepy stuff like watching her sleep all night. Then his crazy mother insults her, while he just stands there watching. She attempts suicide. Later they reunite (all is forgiven, hallelujah), and she comes to know that he had been sort of stalking her all this while but had not got in touch “for her own good.”
You know what that is? The Twilight Saga 1 & 2, without the vampires or werewolves or glitter. Add in a dash of the cruel mother-in-law from Indian television serials, and there you have it!
They say there is nothing original left to be done in the world of fiction. I’ve no authority to question that statement, but even then, I would not say books are entirely without surprises. Except for Without You – I knew on page one what the ending would be, including the smallest bits which I won’t reveal in order to keep this somewhat spoiler-free. The language is poor, rife with grammar errors (missing articles, incorrect placement of prepositions, wrong punctuations (commas, especially, were murdered), random capitalizations, bad sentence construction) and purple prose. The characters, including the narrator, speak like Yoda (“shameless, she is.”, “you know him, but.”), and many a times, I went like this:
The heroine is one of the weakest literary characters I’ve seen in quite some time. She faints every now and then in the manner of 18th century dames, that need to be revived with smelling salts. She is also constantly telling us about how blessed she is because of the kind of people she has in her life. She’s the literary version of the overly sentimental friend you have on Facebook, the one who updates status lines such as “feeling blessed with Vishal and 38 other people” Speaking of Vishal, he was a character who had a prominent role in the first half, only to vanish later.
But the funniest part has to be – she plots to get her guy back with the help of “zodiac signs”! That’s her genius plot – the hero is a cancerian so she is sure he will behave in a certain way, and with that she knows how to win him back. Well, hello! Newsflash: zodiac signs are fun, but definitely not airtight-behavioural-pattern predictors. Oh God!
Also, the hero: Bro, you’re 26, and a cardiologist, FFS! How are you so stupid and immature? And he’s weirdly creepy too – meets girl, says “I love you” after, like, a day, texts her 5 times after leaving her house just cos he didn’t get an instant response. Bro, why you no chill!
The predictability of the (clichéd) plot, the overly-detailed and unnecessary description of every surrounding, the stupidity of two people saying “I love you” without even knowing each other, the spinelessness of the hero, the doormat-like behaviour of the heroine, the incorrect over-use of the word “literally” (“I could literally hear his thoughts” Babe, no, you can’t) and the word “alluring”, the dialogue tags added to run-on sentences, the bad shape and repetition that convinced me no editor had probably seen this, the sly goodie-two-shoes judgemental tone (“except for a few stolen kisses, our love was innocent”, “I would’ve made you mine. I’m only human” (sense, this makes none.)) and… I could go on; my point being – it was all off-putting.
I had mentioned in a previous review this month that I seem to be reading a lot of romances lately, something I rarely do. Reading Without You reminded me why is it that I stopped reading romances in the first place.