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November 17, 2011

Book Review - 57 : Resident Dormitus

Author: Vikas Rathi
Publisher: Rupa Publications

Achet, the lead protagonist hails from a small town. Having excelled at whatever the world threw at him, he is set to climb the tallest corporate ladders around. But he doesn’t know what he wants from life. Both, his desire to explore life and his work take him to Singapore. And thus begins the journey of self-discovery. Despite the hectic schedule at work he finds the time to cynically size up those around him, experiment with drugs, lie for cheap thrills, display a complete disregard for professional ethics, almost commits career-suicide and a cold-blooded murder. Is there salvation for Achet? If so, is the price too high?

Resident Dormitus is a polarizing book. There is so much to like in this young adult fiction, but still it fails to keep the momentum going. During the middle portions of the book, the screenplay goes in circles without achieving anything. The book is so caught up in being self-congratulatory that it doesn't even realize where it has been slipping up. It inflicts seriously and sincerely on each of the characters but when all of them are portrayed as lazy, inactive and obsessed with booze, babes and drugs; it all becomes repetitive and to a point boring.

However, the author delves into small nuggets of life that is all so endearing. Read how Achet decides to explore the personalities of people sending official mails by observing the title and font colour. Or that scene in which a funny situation turns poignant when his friend decides to reveal about his childhood and a brooding, silent father. Even the portions when he gets drunk first time and has passed out is hilarious and keep you in spirits.

But all this does not quite fit in the scheme of things coherently. There are snake-like plot movements which do not work in taking the story forward. All the inactivity of Achet and his group of friends are likeable to start with but when the constant references of going to pubs, drinking heavily, finding girls and reflecting on their past misadventures, it all soon become all so familiar and predictable. The triggers which come off as twists in lives of the protagonist are abrupt and contrived, not investing enough in the metamorphosis for each of them.

I am going with a heavy-hearted 2.5/5 for Vikas Rathi's 'Resident Dormitus'. It is a book you want to desperately like because it brings those subtle nuances so effortlessly. Unfortunately, it cannot rise above its flawed script and become a sum of all its parts. Still not a bad Sunday read as it will make you think about yourself and for those moments when you have doubted your own abilities. Otherwise it is a clunky book which takes itself far too seriously for its own good. It flys, but never soars. It swells, but never bursts.

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