Wednesday, January 18

Five point, someone?

I had heard a lot about this book and like many others who read the reviews, wanted to read 'Five point someone' as soon as possible. However it did not happen till yesterday.

It so happened that my brother was reading something with a newspaper covering (or so it looked like) and knowing that he would never cover his books thus, I had to find out what book it was. That is how I landed up with this book. (Now its up to you to decide if a book with a coverpage that looks like its been wraped in newspaper invites you to read it.)

'Five point someone' is a story about three guys in college (IIT, Delhi), the 'fun' they have during their fours years together (Hmmm.....) and how they almost 'screw' up their degrees in the process. It begins with how a guy (near death) is being rushed to a hospital and then flashback (Hmm..... I know this?!) The author, Chetan Bhagat, takes you through the four years of the three guys, Alok, Ryan and Hari (supposedly the author himself) starting off with a ragging episode. Ryan saves the other two from some impossibly obnoxious thing during the ragging and their friendship is sealed. Ryan is this rich, smart and handsome guy who apparently has 'everything going for him', while Alok is this poor, intelligent, fat and (almost) ugly guy who has 'all the problems in the world'. And Hari is somehwere in between, an ok-to-do, intelligent and ok-to-look-at guy, who is narrating the story and so we hardly have any insights into his background. In the first semester itself they score a five point something score in their exams and that is how they come to be known for the rest of their stay, 'five point somethings', the underdogs. Ryan is irritated with the 'system' because it does not allow one any freedom to innovate things, but rather produces human machines. He proposes that the three friends have all the fun they can have as 'these are the days to do it' and so between movies, food, chess, porn and vodka they 'screw' up their studies. They never rise above their five point something. In the meanwhile Hari falls for the daughter of the Head of Department (a very strict guy who does not allow his daughter to talk with guys or receive their calls) and to impress him he wants to score an 'A' for his course. And the easiest way to do it is steal the paper! (Ryan's idea) So Hari goes to the professor's house to meet the daughter and with no one at home they end up having sex and he also manages to get the keys and go out (in the father/professor's shirt) and duplicate them and come back and bump into the father and meet the daughter clad in a bedsheet at the doorstep............ and in general have a blast! With keys in place they sneak into the office at night and get caught and are expelled for a term. Due to the expulsion and tensions at home, Alok jumps from the roof and breaks himself at a hundred places. Having 'screwed up' their degrees and chances at a decent job, they come to their senses and work hard on a project........................ You get the drift.

Now. The book is not as great as the reviews I had read claimed it to be. The story is good and it could happen to anyone. As such it is realistic. The characters are however very stereotypical. Ryan for example is goodlooking and smart and rich and hates the system and wants to have fun - it seems too much out of a bollywood film and stereotyped. The whole book has been written in a very 'yuppie' language to give it that college fun feel. But, as Hari says at a point in the book, "It kills the effect"; the yuppieness of the language does not flow naturally but seems to have been brought in after a some real effort. The yuppieeness is not as natural as the film Dil Chahta Hai, which seems to have inspired this book (Hmm..... now I know). Comparing notes with a friend we were unanimous that it seems to try to do a 'Dil Chahta Hai'.

I will not say dont read it. Go ahead and read it. Its a quick read with only around 250 pages and definitely not 'crap'(a word which has been used too many times in the book.) Read it to see that IITians are not all bookworms and studious, they have their share of fun and 'college life'. Read it to realise how its important to know where to draw the line. Read it and let me know!


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Supremus said...

Lovely review on what is a very average book by my liking. It is great for its nostalgia value though - it immeidately did transport me back to my college days; everything else was ordinary - esp the characterizations of main players.

Great review here - keep them coming!

Bhupi said...

too long review to read...will read it in parts :)

Shruthi said...

Fun review! I have also heard of this book, and it is usually spoken of highly compared to his second book :) But no, I have not read either! Will look out for both!

meera said...

I agree completely with you. I also picked up Five Point Someone for its rave reviews and the high praise. Turns out thats not enough to make a book readable!

In the future I'll read your blog for the book review first and then pick it up.

Great review! You are definitely more than nine point someone!

Manasi said...

Thanks all of you!

Meera you surely did flatter me!(blushes). It happens quite a few times that we take up a book or a film due to its reviews and then it disapoints us. I think in the case of this book I should have "judged the book by its cover" - the newspaper lookalike!

Suyog I agree with what you said. It has its nostalgic value. Though I never did anything of 'that' sort, I can definitely identify.

Abhi said...

In fact I picked up the book after i read the review on your blog. It is an OK kind of book, something like a timepass movie(which you can watch only once). I feel the highest Chetan Bhagat could go was Cherian's speech in Hari's dream.The bottom line is good GPAs do not necessarily make a good person.

Anonymous said...

well watever one says , this book does have its fair share of flair n panache... i mean look at the deadly combo of vodka,pink floyd ,insti roof and grass... [awesome]

and the daily morning butter smeared parantha breakfast...

i do agree , that its nothing very excetional from the literary point of view, and that the lead characters are very typecast & seem to have been drafted straight outta a hindi flick.

but sometimes its the timing that's more important , that etches a book into ur memory for reading the alchemist, when ur aim in life seems confusing.

i read this book during the last months of my college life...
and it made me value the remaining college days more than the whole of my entire 4 years.

i'm not defending this book or anything, but its just another point of view.



Manasi said...

Shaant: It is nice to know that the book made you cherish your last days in college. I think it says a lot about the quality of the book. And like you said, my review is just my point of view :)