Updated: Dec 20, 2021
My sister commented this week that she does not like romance books. I remember being her age once. I didn't like them either.
But having aged a little, I have grown the list of genres that I will read and the genres that I will enjoy. And I am proud to say...
Romance is now on that list.
That being said, I have never had the pleasure of reading a romance with arranged marriages as a huge part of the plot.
I loved it.
I won "More Than Just a Pretty Face" in a contest put on by Book Riot and am really thankful that I did. It allowed me not only to get my hands on a great new romance book but to read something a little different than most of the books I read (very pleasantly different) and experience a different culture via reading a book.
The book is about a high school student, Danyal who wants to be a cook despite his father's reservations. He is handsome and that is a great asset to him in getting the parents of nice Indian girls to come around for meetings to discuss arranged marriages to him. Especially considering he is not very smart (he is 19 and still in high school). But the girl he really would like to be considering an arranged marriage with, the most attractive girl in his class (who also happens to be his best friend's girl) seems out of reach and the girl who shows up as a potential option is much too much in reach (what with her reputation being spoiled and all). To make matters worse, he has just been chosen to represent the History teacher at "Renaissance Man," the school's essay writing competition which is usually aimed at the smartest kids in school. Now he has to write an essay, pass history, and figure out who to marry and what to do with the rest of his life.
It's a pretty good book.
I did feel that there were a lot of unexplained references to different elements of Muslim or Indian culture and would have personally preferred that some were explained more. I felt it was like a book with excerpts of untranslated French, which is great if you are aiming to have the book read only (or mostly) by French readers but less so if you aim to have the book read across the globe. Nevertheless, I did not feel that the references were enough to distract from the book itself.
I did also find that it was an interesting writing style that was, personally not up my alley. I do think that the way that the book was written contributed excellently to the character of Danyal as it was written in 1st person but I didn't find it to be the kind of style I personally enjoy reading most.
However, I have always felt that the most important elements to a book are not writing style nor descriptions (which I did feel were done perfectly fine by the way, they are added here for further clarification) nor the inclusion or lack of unexplained references or untranslated passages but rather the storyline and the characters. Syed Masood did these two things wonderfully. I fell in love with his characters and wanted to know the end of the story so much that I read the book in less than two days (who cares about homework or my own writing right?).
Thank you Book Riot for a nice new book to add to my shelf. And thank you Syed for a wonderfully written story that I got to enjoy for two days.