INDIAN author Chetan Bhagat’s latest novel is supposed to be a thriller and an ‘unlove’ story.
The Girl in Room 105 starts off with a prologue where the author meets a young man named Keshav, who piques his interest with a story about an ex-lover.
Keshav Rajpurohit is a mathematics tutor at Chandan Classes, and he hates his job.
Since breaking up with his girlfriend, Zara Lone, four years ago, he is still unable to move on, choosing instead to turn to alcohol.
This leads to obsessive and harassing drunk phone calls and texts to Zara, who is now engaged to Raghu, owner of a successful start-up.
The demise of the relationship can be traced back to Keshav’s traditional family, who is associated with right-wing, Hindu nationalist organisation, the RSS, which parallels the fact that Zara is a Muslim from Kashmir.
On the night of Zara’s birthday, Keshav gets a message from her asking to meet in her university hostel room, number 105.
Hoping for a reconciliation, he goes to meet her, only to find her cold, lifeless body.
And so begins his quest to find her killer, and to avenge Zara’s death.
As a thriller, the book is rather underwhelming. From Keshav’s professional struggles, his soured relationship with Zara, to the murder and subsequent investigation, on top of religious conflict and the Kashmir issue, there were too many elements that led to the story feeling like it lacked overall depth.
It feels almost like playing an unsatisfying game of pinball, where the ball rapidly hits several targets in the game but before it can add up to a high score, it falls haplessly past the flippers.
I was left wanting to read more about Zara, a PhD student and activist trying to bridge the Kashmir conflict, and a far more interesting character that deserved more focus.