Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Q&A by Vikas Swarup
Genre: Crime Drama, Romance, Mystery, "Coming of Age"
For reasons unknown, 18-year-old Ram wants to go on the game show Who Wants to Be a Billionaire? Being a lowly tea server, no one ever expected him to answer all thirteen questions correctly. In fact, the producers and host of the show are so outraged and baffled, that they attempt to torture him into revealing his cheats and secrets.
But Ram never cheated. Not once. He knew the answers, and we discover through stories of his past how he does, and his reason for going on the show in the first place.
Okay, a show of hands: How many of you have seen Slumdog Millionaire? Yes? No? Well, it was originally--*gasp!*---a book. As most films these days are. I saw Slumdog Millionaire before I read the book, and I really liked it. I found Latika to be a crappy love interest; she was ditzy and unlikable, and WHY JAMAL WHY would you go through so much trouble for such a boring girl? Dksejgjhsdfbosjhgonsogsgbsdgnjh!!! *head-desking the laptop*
BUT, other than that, it was an excellent film. And when I discovered that my library had a copy of the book, I was like, "Ooh! Ooh! Dibs! MINE!!!" *hisssss* After all, aren't books always better than their cinematic counterparts? The Hunger Games, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Blindness, Speak, Hatchet, Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, to name a few. But alas: this books-to-movies rule does not apply here. If you loved Slumdog Millionaire, DO NOT READ Q&A. Yes, it's about a kid going on a game show, and yes, it's about him recounting his life's story. But that's where the similarties come to an abrupt, screeching halt.
The book Q&A is nothing like the movie, so don't go headfirst into reading it (waitwaitwait....headfirst? What other way would a person go, Hannah? Butt first? You moron....) expecting it to be. Like I did...*sigh*....
So the book begins exactly like the movie did, with Ram/Jamal (pick whichever name you like) getting tortured by TV producers.This goes on for quite a while until, magically, a lawyer randomly appears and says that she is defending Ram. So she takes him to her place, where he is ever grateful for rescuing him. But of course, just before torture began, he had been on a game show where he answered 13 questions perfectly and won one billion rupees, which is more than 18 million US dollars (so sayeth the online exchange rate converter). Yay Ram!.....right?
No. The TV producers don't believe he played fairly, so thus commences the torture. Anyway, now that he is in the care of his awesometacular lawyer, he has to explain in explicit detail how he knows the answers to every question, and then we see his life story unravel right before our very eyes.
Aww, how sweet! How touching! How beautifully poetic....*sniffle sniffle*....One third of the way through, I was prepared to give the book 4 stars out of 5. Halfway through, well, about 3 stars. The story wasn't bad, but the narrative was a tad dry and uninteresting. Actually, this isn't a YA novel, it's for adults. Martha told me I could only review YA books, because, duh, it's a YA book blog. But I have a legitimate excuse for posting this review: Despite this being an adult novel, it's written in a very juvenile manner. I don't mean to say it's "dumbed down" or anything like that, but I feel like the terminology isn't quite up there with, ya know, Shakespeare. And Shakespeare is my lowest standard for everything all the time EVER. Just kidding:P You know, I think it has something to do with the fact that I was reading We Need to Talk About Kevin simultaneously with Q&A, and, well....just flip through a few pages of that, and we'll see how dumb you feel then. I mean, DAY-am, Lionel Shriver can write. I think she co-wrote the dictionary or something, cuz she know BIG WORDS. Anywho....
And then we get to page 260. Oh, page 260, how I despise thee. OK, look: I have my library copy of Q&A with me right now. I have flipped to the last page, which is page 318. Are you following me? There are only 318 pages in the entirety of this book. And Ram's love interest, Nita, doesn't get the slightest mention until freakin' page 260!! What the falafel?
And, ohmygosh, you wouldn't not BELIEVE how pathetic the romance is. It's laughable. In fact, I'm bawling with tears and laughter right now, it's so bad. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think this romance is worse than Fallen (sorry, Martha, I know you liked Fallen....). I just can't even.......WORDS, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE HAVE FAILED ME..............But not really. Time for some hate.
Okay, so, if you have seen the film, you know that at one point, Jamal/Ram was working as a fake tour guide for idiotic tourists at the Taj Mahal, to earn some extra cash. Well, he did this for some snobby rich college kids. But then, they offered him the time of his life, and Jamal, being the dumb teenager he is, said, "What the hell, why not?" So he tags along with them and ends up.......in a red light district. Yes. He gets introduced to a prostitute named Nita, has sex with her (yup. She was paid for this), and holycrapohmysweetbabypineapple it must be forever, true, undeniable, everlasting, eternal L-O-V-E............NO. No. No. No no no nononononononono NO! WHEN WILL YOU AUTHORS LEARN!?!?!! SEX and LOVE are NOT synonymous!! You can't just have two characters have sex and then BAM! Insta-love. No! As you can see, I am outraged at the moment. I need a YouTube break. Excusez-moi.....
Alright, I'm back..........And certainly not any calmer!! Gah!!! More ranting!! Okay, so beyond what I've already mentinoed, the author, Vikas Swarup, has done absolutely nothing to fill out the romance. It's like he barely even tried. We get no character development, absolutely nothing to make me like Nita. Not that you can do that much with ONLY 50 PAGES LEFT!! Hmm....I seem to be abusing Caps Lock for this review.....
For those of you wanting a less heated and more level-headed review: .......................................No, I can't. I can't do level-headed. Sorry.
In addition, I felt that there were WAY too many coinkydinks. A girl that Ram helped out when he was 12 actually turns out to be the lawyer that defends him later. The man who abused Nita (not getting into the details there) and a woman Ram used to work for is actually the host of the game show that he's on. And, just....there are way too many. There are so many details, that I can't even get into them all.
The last thing I want to address is the lack of humanity in just about every single character that Ram comes across in his life. Just about everyone is complete and total soulless scumbag. And it seems like the author unrealistically portrayed the underbelly of India. I mean, I'm not sure; for all I know, the slums of India could really be the disgusting, revolting, despair-filled and nightmarish rock bottom that Swarup makes them out to be, and the inhabitants even more so. But, ya know, maybe not. Ram comes across prostitutes, thieves, wifebeaters, kidnappers, murderers, rapists (including incestual rapists), drunks, drug addicts, gangsters, child maimers, pimps, black-soulled mothers, evil priests, and on and on and on and on....Is there not one decent person in India? Or are they all sad, pathetic excuses for human beings? That is the question....
Ahhh.....I think I've finished ranting. The bottom line: If you put aside your brain for a bit, there's a slight chance you might enjoy Q&A. Most likely not though. Actually, no. I wouldn't recommend this. Go watch Slumdog Millionaire and stay away from this. My hat's off to Simon Beaufoy, who adapted this book into the screenplay for the film. Boy, that must've been an ordeal... -Hannah
I've rated Q&A: