Tue, Oct. 8th, 2013, 04:00 pm || Chauhan, Anuja - The Zoya Factor

add to memories

Zoya Singh Solanki was born the exact moment India won the Cricket World Cup in 1983. Her next fateful encounter with cricket happens when she is assigned to work with India's cricket team for a Zing! ad for her agency, and soon, the team begins to win whenever she eats breakfast with them. Before she knows it, she is annoying the handsome captain of the team, getting a free ride to Australia for the World Cup, and being hailed as a cricket goddess by some people.

I don't usually read chick lit all that often because of the frequent focus on things like brand names and shopping, and because while I can deal with annoying gender roles in historical romances, it's much more difficult to brush them aside in contemporary romances. This book does have some of the things that annoy me—Zoya's initial stint in the ad company is obviously very conscious of brands—but it wasn't too bad. Also, you can tell where my priorities lie: I was incredibly annoyed at Nikhil Koda, the love interest, until he and Zoya went to a street market and had food. As Nikhil was a fan of the food, I decided I liked him a lot more.

I thought I would actually be more bored by the cricket than I was, seeing as how I am not a big sports person, but all the snippets from the articles from India and the overall excitement reminded me a lot of being in Asia during South Korea's run in the 2002 World Cup. By the end, I was enjoying the cricket bits more than the romance bits.

Unfortunately, the book is at least 100 pages or so too long; in order to stretch the story out, Chauhan basically has a ton of Not-Too-Big Misunderstandings get in the way of Zoya and Nikhil's happy ending. Zoya had decides to ignore Nikhil based on suspicions from gossip rags, her brother's speculations, her own doubts, and various other things that might have made sense the first two or three times, but have gotten incredibly boring the ninth or so time around.

That said, I do actually like Zoya and Nikhil, and I particularly like Zoya's family and friends. And I laughed so hard at Zoya wondering how on earth monolingual white Australians got by with only one language (what do they do when they are in a different mood?), along with the weirdness of being in a place so full of white people. I so sympathize. And there's just something really fun about Chauhan's narrative voice, from the toinnnnngggg commercial to the two sports announcers and the assorted excerpts from gossip magazines.

Anyway, it's definitely uneven, especially when it comes to the romance, but it felt a lot more familiar than almost all chick lit and/or contemporary romances I read, which is usually split between glamorous big city or small-town (very white) America. So, looking forward to reading her next two books, especially since it sounds like they have plot elements and/or settings that differ even more from standard chick lit/contemporary romance.

Links:
- reviews from the Anuja Chauhan reading club (also, thanks to [personal profile] deepad for setting it up in the first place!)

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