Without You, by Preethi Venugopala

Without You, by Preethi Venugopala is a book I picked up only because I was systematically clearingpreethi-venugopala-without-you-sreesha-divakaran 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.

Genre: Boy-meets-girl-and-some-insta-crushing

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:

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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.

Rating: 1/5

Goodreads | Amazon 

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25 thoughts on “Without You, by Preethi Venugopala

    1. You know, even predictability can sometimes be forgiven if the rest of it isn’t cliched or incredulous. For instance, I guessed about the Colonel in the beginning, it was such an obvious easy way out, but I couldn’t wrap my head around the improbability of the concept – the writing couldn’t convince me and therein lies its failure.

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  1. There do seem to be a lot of books out there rife with poor editing. Wonder if it is the Indian publishing scene that is making this possible. I had friends over for lunch on Friday and we were discussing just that. Sigh, never mind. Oh and this review has your signature style all over it, as usual. And you know how I love that. 🙂

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    1. The publishing scene in general is tragic these days. Quality of literature, whether it is Indian or western, has just gone down. Maybe because hardly anyone really wants to read these days, but still wants to pretend that they’re well-read or something, way too many of these easy-breezy reads have come out, that no one proofreads.

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      1. Although I’ve not read this particular book, I agree that the literary quality of these books published by new publishers is very average. Although I’m also a product of the same, my first book being on the same lines as this, I have read a lot of good books since then and I think I’ve improved a lot. Reading Khaled Hosseini and Murakami changes your reading tastes and even your writing style. Something which I think budding Indian authors must do 🙂

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      2. Hosseini’s marvellous! Right up there in my list of favourite authors. While I’m not Murakami’s biggest fan, I can’t help but admire his mad storytelling skill. It’s something else, truly! The thing about both the authors you’ve mentioned and several others who are “different” from their easy-come-easy-go-no-edit counterparts is the interwoven complexity and simplicity. It seems so effortless, yet you know you’ve read something worthwhile and meaningful.

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      3. Yes, Sreesha, I agree. Even I’ve not loved both of Murakami’s book I’ve read, neither have they touched me emotionally nor did they have the kind of satisfying ending I wanted (Norwegian Wood and After Dark) but the language and narration is delicious which makes me want to read more and more. Yes, I cried a lot in Khaled Hosseini’s book The Kite Runner. Along with wonderful language, he has the ability to wrench your heartstrings mercilessly, which is a rare quality. 🙂

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  2. Oh yes – the girl who was 20 acted like a 15 year-old (and I am sure I am offending some 15 year olds by the comparison) and the dude was SO immature for his age! I have read some mindless romances, and I can even enjoy them once in a while, but this book takes the term to a whole new level!

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    1. I know, right! Like, for instance Eleanor & Park which we were discussing recently, is a story about actual teenagers. That’s written so beautifully and those kids didn’t seem half as stupid!
      Oh yeah, even I can read mindless romances once in a while, when I need a cleanser from heavy literature, but I know what you mean – this one just isn’t it!

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  3. In most of the 60s /70s Tamil/Telugu films, the heroine always, always, at some point, tells the hero “you naughty!” That’s it. Not you naughty man, you naughty fellow – nothing. They were geniuses at using adjectives as nouns…in a weird way 🙂

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  4. This clearly is one of the books that I hated. But I was kind in my review and gave it a 2.5 just because I knew the author. Worst decisions ever!

    I absolutely loved your review. It was everything I felt as I read the book. I’m surprised you missed mentioning the Colonel Nair bit. That was crap at its best in this book.

    Sense, this makes none. Love story, this was not. Story, this was not.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ughh, don’t get me started on that Colonel Nair guy – the man was in Kerala, then later in Bangalore, then on a flight to Dubai with the heroine – even someone as thick-headed as she could see something was off. I knew he was some kinda easy plot hole, and I wasn’t the least bit surprised when he turned out to be what he turned out to be – and yet I found it hilariously bad. Predictable yet unconvincing.

      Hahahhaha I love your last sentence 😄

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  5. I have not read the Book but Internet has been flooding with awesome things everyone had to say about it.
    It is an eye opener to have someone who honestly reviews it. Book Reviews had just started becoming licking asses of writers.

    Thank You for writing this down. It helped.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, it has a high rating on goodreads too – I don’t know if I should be surprised or worried about the literary tastes of the present generation or just ignore it. To each his own, I guess.

      Glad you liked the review 🙂

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  6. Love your review, Sreesha. Spot on as usual. Did you know that this book is among Amazon.in best seller list, it’s at 7th position!! *Rolls Eyes*

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