The Zoya Factor (by Anuja Chauhan): a much delayed review

The Zoya FactorThe Zoya Factor by Anuja Chauhan

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book two or more years ago and I still have the copy lying about somewhere. Recently I received a copy of Chauhan’s Those Pricey Thakur Girls and decided to at least add this book as “read” on my goodreads shelf.
I remember that I loved the first half. I hadn’t yet read a novel by an Indian author that wasn’t literary and yet boasted competent narrative skills. This author showed her potential from the very first chapter as she set the background for us and let us get a feel for her heroine.
Unfortunately it was like reading…have you ever watched one of those Indian TV serials that are focused on the misunderstandings and misfortunates of two fated-for-each-other people? Recently a lot of them seem to be cropping up and they have meet-cute beginnings and funny incidents and fate intervening to bring them together and so on. Basically every cliche romancelandia has ever invented.
Zoya Factor was like that only with better writing skills and some genuinely funny dialogues.
It was the second half that really disappointed me. Till then suspension of disbelief wasn’t so hard and the protagonist’s silliness, wrong assumptions, bad decisions all seemed endearing. After the halfway mark however my patience was severely tested as all I could feel was embarrassment for the heroine and bewilderment that the hero even liked her, when I couldn’t see a single thing they had in common or a single thing he could admire in her.
She’s textbook for the kind of heroine I could never root for. She wasn’t resourceful, wasn’t capable of independent, un-influenced thought, held stupid prejudices and made frequent and faulty jumps to wrong conclusions.
The hero was a lot more relatable and I felt almost bad for him because I knew he would end up with her. He was a decent guy, with a lot of integrity who just wanted to prove himself and do a good job as a team captain. The fact that he didn’t believe in lucky charms and the efficacy of having a free-loader hanging around his team, making them think that all their wins came from having her around, didn’t make him arrogant and close-minded. It made him a good captain and an intelligent man.
But you know what nearly made me give up the book three-fourths of the way? – That the heroine was so obviously inferior to the smart, capable, pragmatic hero. I know that’s a relationship dynamic often explored in books and movies – bumbling heroine and cynical hero – and it’s supposed to be a yin-yang, she-balances-him thing, but it didn’t work for me in this book. It just didn’t.

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2 comments

  1. thank you! this is one of the first reviews of the zoya factor i’ve read that i actually agree with – i started wondering if i was just imagining all the flaws in the protagonist since no one else seemed to see/acknowledge them…
    good to know i’m not alone! haha i did enjoy those pricey thakur girls a lot more than the zoya factor!

    1. Yep, Those Pricey Thakur Girls was definitely the better book. I also loved the retro setting. And you have to be the only one I have come across, who agrees with this review of mine. I’ve been told several times to read the book again (and maybe get a lobotomy) because I obviously didn’t *get* what the author was doing with the heroine. =D

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