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My Rating - 3 out of 5 stars

Publisher - Rajmangal Publishers
Genre - Fiction
Publishing year - 2020
Language - Hindi
ISBN - 978-93-90216-31-4
Pages - 92

My Review - 

I never read a book that explains the discrimination between general and reserved categories. So for my international readers, who don't know about these two sections, let me give you a simple explanation. In India, the caste system strongly prevails; we even have sub-castes. According to the Indian constitution, people from SC, ST, and OBC (considered a low class or untouchables) give first preferences and reserved seats in schools, colleges, and government departments. One section of the country opposed this because many bright students are side-lined due to the special treatment. 

For others, this specific facility is much needed to come forward and find their place in society. I have some strong views about this system, but I'm not going to include them in my review. Although I do feel bad for my country, I sometimes think people will never disregard this nonsense and come forward as one? 

Plot - Reserved: One Won is a story of two youngsters, Sanaya and Vihan. They both got admission to a reputed engineering college. Soon they fall in love and start thinking about getting married. They both are intelligent and hardworking, but Sanaya comes from a reserved category and Vihan from a general. So she spends a lot of her time denying the fact that caste matters, and whenever her friend Akshara points out this truth, she gets irritated. 

Vihan comes from an orthodox family, and his upbringing portrays the harsh reality of the Indian caste system. His family nor go to the houses of reserved categories nor invite them on any occasion. Like many Indians, they think they are superior to everyone else if they are from the general classification. This mentality also affects many lovers because parents won't marry their child in some other caste. Sanaya and Vihan have to go through this challenge. Will their love pass the barrier placed by their parents and society?

Writing Style - I don't appreciate the way Manu Saunkhala used words to narrate the whole story. It seems casual and aimless. The conversation appears bush-league. When I read Hindi language stories, I wanted to feel a connection, which shows how beautiful this language is, not how today's youth talk to each other, which is way too insolent. I hope that the author works on my advice and writes more sophisticatedly in his next book. 

Characters - When Akshara and Aarav delivered the speech at a political rally, I thought they would do something about the reservation situation. I was actually looking forward to seeing their personalities developing, but to my disappointment, they appear to be the rest of the community, only tittle-tattles and no action. Vihan reveals its actual color from time to time, and I pity him honestly. What's the use of your literacy if your head is full of trash? While Sanaya surprised me a lot, I never imagined that she would ever stand up for herself. 

There are so many characters in this book, and I want to mention the father of Sanaya and Vihan. Being the father of a girl child is complex, and things become more complicated when that girl decides to marry someone from the other caste. But Sanaya's father did everything for the sake of his daughter's happiness. While for Vihan's father, caste, society, and his ego come first. He did come from a place where these things were every day, and the author characterizes these two personas ideally. 

Final thoughts - 

This is the author's debut novel, and I always like to read books in my native language. The story is fast-paced and short, so if you're looking for something to come out of a reading slump, this is the one. I admire that Manu Saunkhala writes on a topic that affects most Indians directly or indirectly, but I feel there's a lot of space to improve the plot, characters, and writing. In some places, the narrative is thought-provoking, and it is unusual for an author to pick a theme like this, so I will recommend it, but only to newbies. 

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