(This is a really old one that I had written for an assignment, thought everyone should know how lame the book really is.)
As with most of his books, Half Girlfriend begins with Bhagat being stalked by a man with a story, and he then decides to (surprise surprise!) turn it into his next ‘Best Seller’, and thus is told to us, the story of Madhav and Riya, a small town boy and a girl from the big city of Delhi. Blossoming in St. ‘Stevens’ (as the ‘English types’ call it), this is the story of how they fell in love.
Madhav approaches Mr. Bhagat with a set of journals, written by his lost ‘Half –Girlfriend’, hoping they would be of some use to him, as the girlfriend in question (half, I mean) was a big fan of his, and he’d spent many a time reading his works by her side.
Curiosity finally gets the better of the author, and we then embark on a journey that is the (not so) colourful love story of Riya Somani and Madhav Jha.
Their college life was basically Madhav trying to kiss Riya, while she politely rejected his advances, referring to him as ‘Baby’ and failed attempts at conversing in English. Add terribly described basketball matches to the mix and you have yourself the first act of the book. And of course, how can I forget Madhav’s desperation, leading him to use the worst pick up line of all time, a crude “Deti hai toh deh, warna kat le”, in order to get where he wanted to with his lady love.
Further into the book, we see Madhav returning to his village life, heart still pinning for Ms. Somani who, (surprisingly) walks right back into his life, and again begins the dance of advances, rejections and the worst possible ‘Friend Zoned’situation ever. A story line featuring Bill Gates himself comes into play some time now, but as Bhagat rightly guessed, Madhav’s English lessons with Riya were of more importance. Sadly for him, the half in Madhav’s ‘Half Girlfriend” theory still holds strong.
The third act of the book goes international, and we keep Madhav company while he tears down the Big Apple, looking for his lady love. And finally, the couple the find the happy ending they long deserved (?).
The story is written as though translated word to word from an originally Hindi manuscript. The language used is crass, and childish, but befits Madhav’s character. The story lacks imagination and speed, and most of the couple’s ‘awww’ moments have been borrowed from tacky Bollywood movies. To mention a high point in the book would be difficult, but I commend the author for not writing Riya’s character as that as a typical rich spoilt Delhi girl. He manages to maintain some mystery surrounding her life till the end. An okay read if one is an avid Chetan Bhagat fan.
A failure in comparison to his previous works, Half Girlfriend is a book ever budding writer should read, to learn how NOT to write a novel.