Thursday, July 28, 2016

ARC Review: Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

Title: Enter Title Here
Written by: Rahul Kanakia
Published: August 2, 2016 by Disney-Hyperion
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: I’m your protagonist—Reshma Kapoor—and if you have the free time to read this book, then you’re probably nothing like me. 

Reshma is a college counselor’s dream. She’s the top-ranked senior at her ultra-competitive Silicon Valley high school, with a spotless academic record and a long roster of extracurriculars. But there are plenty of perfect students in the country, and if Reshma wants to get into Stanford, and into med school after that, she needs the hook to beat them all. 

What's a habitual over-achiever to do? Land herself a literary agent, of course. Which is exactly what Reshma does after agent Linda Montrose spots an article she wrote for Huffington Post. Linda wants to represent Reshma, and, with her new agent's help scoring a book deal, Reshma knows she’ll finally have the key to Stanford. 

But she’s convinced no one would want to read a novel about a study machine like her. To make herself a more relatable protagonist, she must start doing all the regular American girl stuff she normally ignores. For starters, she has to make a friend, then get a boyfriend. And she's already planned the perfect ending: after struggling for three hundred pages with her own perfectionism, Reshma will learn that meaningful relationships can be more important than success—a character arc librarians and critics alike will enjoy. 

Of course, even with a mastermind like Reshma in charge, things can’t always go as planned. And when the valedictorian spot begins to slip from her grasp, she’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for that satisfying ending. (Note: It’s pretty far.)

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

WOW! What a unique and compelling contemporary YA coming-of-age story. This is like no other contemporary I have read with the way it played with the tropes and storytelling made for a truly engaging and interesting read.

First things first, I have to talk about the characters in this book. For one thing there is nothing really likable about them. Yes, them. All of them. Practically every character is hard to like in varying degrees. But none more so than our main character Reshma. Resh is a selfish, entitled, arrogant brat who treats people like crap and expects them to fawn all over her. Most of the book I wanted to shake her or lecture her for being so awful to everyone around her. But at the same time I felt for her. What Kanakia is able to do here with Reshma is no easy feat, he has made a truly terrible character empathetic. You want her to succeed and you cringe when she fails for some odd reason. You hate her but you want good things to happen to her. Maybe that's because there aren't a lot of things that go well for her. In fact, the universe loves to kick her when she's down and a lot of bad things happen to her. Most of it she deserves. There's this great sense of karma or justice throughout the book that I think helps make the book compelling and the character empathetic.

But you also may empathize with Reshma because of her development throughout the story. I would probably consider this book a coming-of-age story but it's so far from that traditional novel that it almost feels like satire. It is a very self-aware and meta book. For one thing, Reshma is trying to model her life around a typical YA novel so she can write a typical YA novel. But nothing about this book or her life is typical. In the end she wakes up to that reality and has to realize the cold hard truth about life. She also realizes just how self-destructive she has been and slowly, very slowly, learns from it. As a person who was kind of a terrible teenage I appreciated that. But the development was subtle which I think made it all the more real.

The way this story is told was also very unique and meta as well. It's not necessarily a story within a story but it's not a traditional narrative either. It's told in short bursts with kind of day in the life vignettes as Reshma talks about what she did to advance her novel and/or life. But she is also so honest about this being for the novel that sometimes you wonder what is her book and what is her life. It's only when she breaks the fourth wall and tells you directly what she is doing that it becomes clear. This writing style was definitely strange and surprisingly compelling but it did make for a weirdly paced story. It didn't have a clear flow and there were a lot of different plot points that worked together and independently. Some of them had strong resolutions and others didn't. But isn't that how life works?

Enter Title Here is one of the most unique books I have read and I loved that about it. It played with the tropes in a way that made an interesting and compelling story that I couldn't stop reading with characters I loved to hate.

I give Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia 9 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Byapass: Buy. I will say that I don't think this book is for everyone. I have given it a really good review but it's my kind of read. It's different and difficult to read but that's what I liked about it. Fans of books with "unlikable" characters and anyone looking for a unique contemporary should check this out.

Have you read Enter Title Here? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts? Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

1 comment:

  1. This is the first I've heard of this one, but it does sound interesting! I will admit, I'm worried about reading a book about characters I won't like... Characters seem to be one of the main factors when it comes to rating for me. I'm glad you liked it though! Great review :D

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds