The Accidental Apprentice by Vikas Swarup


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My friend passed me this book, even though she was half way through it, assuring me that I would like it, and that it was good. I know I should trust her, since we share many  things in common and she was the one who introduced Maeve Binchy’s books to me. Still, if she can just stop reading the book halfway,  how good can it be?

This author is acclaimed for the story behind hit movie Slumdog Millionaire. In this book, he takes on The Apprentice.

Sapna is the eldest daughter and breadwinner,  supporting her widowed mother and younger sister. She lives  in a low cost housing colony in Delhi.and works as a retail salesgirl in an electronics departmental store. Her best friend is Karan, whom she secretly has a crush on.

One day, she is stopped at a temple by Mr Acharya of ABC company, who tells her that he has identified her as a likely successor for his company and if she passes seven tests, he will make her the CEO of his company.

Naturally she is wearied and skeptical of his suggestion, but he is also offering her a large sum of money just by agreeing to take the tests. Needing the money for rent, she agrees.

And so, she awaits the tests while living her pathetic live, acknowledging the fact that not only is she dark and not beautiful, she is poor and powerless in a highly corrupt society.

Life does seems to be full of catastrophes after her agreements and she finds herself being told she has passed the tests after suffering numerous setbacks, sometimes even endangering her life in the process.Yet her intelligence, integrity and boldness help her through, until the final test, when she finds herself being accused of murdering her would be benefactor.

It’s often said that books bring you places, and in this case, we are taken to India, which I have never been, and makes this reading experience a more pleasurable one by the writer’s description of the country.

Sapna is an exceptionally courageous Indian girl and I wonder if her boldness is from courage or naivety. Are there really such a wide gap between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the powerless?  I know I see it often in Korean dramas, how the rich and powerful can get away with any crimes,  so I count myself lucky living in Singapore.

The book is an easy read and a page turner until the final chapter which is a huge letdown. I cannot imagine a girl of such intelligence and with such street wisdom cannot see through the evilness of the villain. As a reader,  I feel the writer took the easy way out of ending the story and cheated us of a better one.

Read and tell me if you agree.

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About vickychong

Just an ordinary woman.
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