SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE by Vikas Swarup
I JUST finished Slumdog, and having never seen the movie, I have to say I was a bit disappointed with it. I mean it was GOOD, but I wouldn't say it was GREAT. And this may be the rare case where the movie is actually BETTER than the book. In fact, reading it, I could see how it would make a pretty amazing movie!
Okay, so back to the book. The thing that threw me off was the cover. On the cover is a profile of the main actor and inset is a young woman running. Underneath are questions like that from a "millionaire" type show and it says, "What does it take to find a lost love?" and then 4 answers to choose from. Does this not sound like the book would be about a "lost love" and then does it not imply that he will be trying to find said lost love? Right. That's what I thought. So with that paradigm looming in my head, I felt frustrated about 3/4 of the way through realizing that that was not really what the story was about. Maybe the movie was cut that way? Not sure, but for me this premise was very distracting.
The story is about Ram Mohammad Thomas who has just been arrested on suspicion of cheating on a televised game show, "Who Will Win A Billion?" He is a kid from the slums with no education and manages to answer all 12 questions correctly, much to the stunned crowd and game officials. During his arrest he is rescued by a lawyer who then asks him to reveal how he could possibly know the answers to all 12 questions. He then proceeds to show her by illustrating moments in his own life that coincidentally have a direct correlation with every single question he is asked on the stage!
It is a very clever method of storytelling, and set in India the author portrays life there as very gritty, chaotic, and sometimes beautiful. My absolute favourite part of the book is the very opening line in the Prologue:
" I have been arrested. For winning a quiz show. "
How cool is this for a first line?! The entire prologue is fantastic and a great set-up for the entire book. I wish I had read it under the original title of Q and A, without the new cover, I would have gone in without any expectations and would have enjoyed it much more. Like I said, I didn't hate it, or even dislike it, it was GOOD. A good solid read.