When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This book was absolutely adorable. I read it straight through and didn't regret a second. The audiobook, in particular, is excellent, with two fantastic narrators in Sneha Mathan and Vikas Adam. I would definitely recommend this to others.
The premise: Dimple's parents allow her to go to a 6 week summer coding class the summer before college only because they want her to meet Rishi, her potential future husband. Needless to say, Dimple's not very interested in marriage or looking pretty, when she could be coding.
There are a few things about this delightful book that I felt could have been even better (the pacing, particularly in the last half), which would have made me love it at 5 star power. Those of you who know I typically rate high might realize that a 4 can be a bit of a flat rating for me, but this is not a flat book.
For a book set in such a fascinating world (in my mind) as Insomnia Con, I would have loved to see some actual world building there. Basically there was almost none, outside of the basics of getting started. We didn't even get to see the depths that participants went to in order to complete their apps (including Dimple and Rishi who spent more time dancing than coding), and there were tons of other students in the program who we never really got to meet or understand.
Some of the main side characters didn't really seem like the types to attend such a long, intensive summer camp. They were more interested in their wealth and popularity than actual coding, so I'm slightly disappointed in the fact that Insomnia Con could have been the most exciting and fascinating world of intellect, diversity, and nerdery ever and... it just wasn't. Instead, it was more of a romantic plot tool, and the majority of scenes weren't even really about the summer camp or the project, both of which were more interesting to me than the characters going out for dinner over and over again.
So it lost a star for world building failures, and it should probably lose a second star, in all honesty for the last 1/3 of the book, which had major pacing issues and a few moments that made me reconsider if I actually knew and liked Dimple. I know they were there again for "plot" tools, but I hate seeing a character bring out a particularly bad, unflattering behavior/quality at the end of the book and then not really address or atone for it.
However, I did think this was a fun, fast, lighthearted read that made me smile. A lot. So it still gets 4 stars, even though I just overthought it so much I almost reduced a star. There's still a lot of good here. There's still a lot to enjoy in the different ways both Dimple and Rishi consider and react with their cultures, both as Indian-American and as Indian. I enjoyed the culture of this book in general and thought that was a real strong point. It showed the different ways people feel and react, when they're born into one culture/place but raised mostly inside another.
Yes, that helped. Now I do feel it definitely deserves those 4 stars. Just realize that you have to enjoy it for the overall journey, rather than the plot and world building, which both are lacking, particularly as the story progress. I still think the interesting main characters will see you through to the end, so give it a go.