Perhaps that’ll best describe Penguin Inked’s latest offering.
Vibha Batra’s Seventeen and Done (You Bet!) is a young adult novel that chronicles the life of Rinki Tripathi. I am presently at a loss to find an adjective that describes the book for exactly what it is, but suffice to say that the only positive aspect of the book is its well designed cover.
The book is narrated by Rinki in first person. The blurb at the back makes you assume that she is the affable teenager next door afflicted with the usual set of concerns (boys, exams, family) that makes growing up what it is. But reading the book reveals that she is an obnoxious 17-year-old brat who constantly suffers severe spasms of delusion. Her character swings from being insecure to self-assured to clueless to insufferable know-it-all, all within a single chapter to the point you aren’t sure if the author had originally intended the book to be a novel about Schizophrenia or if the book is just randomly arranged pages from multiple novel drafts.
The other characters in the book (Adit, Google, Robin, Rinki’s parents and her Mausi) are also poorly constructed and add little colour or dimension. The narration is shoddy as well, partly because there is no story. After ploughing through page after page of disjointed paragraphs that have been glued together with dreadful punctuation (I’m no puritan of the language, but smiley faces in mainstream publishing is just unacceptable), you’re left wondering what the book was even about.
Seventeen And Done belongs to Penguin’s “Inked”, a new imprint dedicated to Young Adults (ages 13-21) in India. There is the possibility I am a little too old to be part of their target audience — I turned 24 two months ago — but dearest Penguin, this next generation of young adults deserves so much better.
Title: Seventeen and Done (You Bet!)
Author: Vibha Batra
Publisher: Penguin Inked
Price: Rs. 199