PLOT: 3/5

The rule of staying peacefully with parents is to keep the sarcasm minimal.

Chetan Bhagat, 400 days

My musings

The release of Chetan Bhagat’s books is always marked by a frenzy. The hype of the release, the excitement amongst the readers, the buzz in the blogging and booktubing world – all of a sudden there is a new leash of energy in bookish circles. 

Chetan Bhagat might not be the favorite of critics, he certainly is the favorite of the industry. For who doesn’t like an author whose books sell like hotcakes. And when there is demand for his books, there is demand for its reviews as well.

So, falling in line with the expectation of our readers, I too bought myself a copy and quickly sat down to read it. Read on to know my review of Chetan Bhagat’s latest book, 400 days.

What to expect?

Expect a book that is much like the other recent books by the author. Expect a book that is an effortless read; one that can be easily read in a sitting or two. Expect a medium-length read (350 pages approx.) that combines romance, humour, family drama, and mystery in equal doses. 

Is this book different?

The thousand buck question that everyone wants to ask is if this book is different? 

Has Chetan done something different this time? 

Sadly, the answer is NO.

For me what ‘spelled different’ in Chetan’s recent writing career were 2 books – 1) One Indian Girl – because it was written from a woman’s perspective and 2) The Girl in Room 105 – because it saw Chetan venturing into a different genre. 

To be honest, between the three books – The Girl in Room 105, One Arranged Murder, and 400 Days, the latest turned out to be my least favourite.

Who can read?

The language is simple and beginner-friendly and as such, it is a book that can be picked up by all levels of readers. Even those beginning to read English will be able to read and enjoy the book.

Let’s talk about the storyline

Keshav and Sourabh are amateur detectives who run a part-time detective agency. While Sourabh is employed in a computer security company, Keshav is preparing for the UPSC exams. These are the same characters with whom the readers were acquainted in Chetan’s previous books The Girl in Room 105 and One Arranged Murder.

There isn’t much happening in both their lives. But all that changes upon the entry of Alia Arora, who is Keshav’s neighbor, an ex-model, and a mother of two. With her hazel green eyes, a head full of luscious brown curls, she is what one would call ‘drop-dead gorgeous‘.

Though Keshav simply can’t take his eyes off her face, she comes to Keshav with a high-profile case. (and trust me, this play of words is not my invention!)

Nine months ago, Alia’s daughter Siya, just shy of celebrating her thirteenth birthday, was taken away from her grandparents’ home in the dead of the night. The Aroras and the police tried their level best to find Siya, but sadly that wasn’t meant to be. 

After no development for weeks on end, the police decided to file the case as cold and even the Aroras gave up hope. 

Except for one person. 

Her mother Alia had never stopped looking, and now she wants Keshav to take up the case.

Will Siya ever be found?

Can Keshav and Sourabh solve this kidnapping?

Will Keshav move past his attraction for Alia?

How good or bad are the characters?

The characters are mediocre at best. Apart from Keshav and Saurabh, whom we are already invested in because of the previous two books, there is no one else who leaves a lasting impression on the reader. Alia has been given a lot of attention and importance in the story. But to me, her character felt inadequate and shallow.

The plot as it exists

The plot is pretty much non-existent. It is quite linear, and a huge part of the book is predictable. There are not enough plot twists to hook the reader.

The writing style 

The writing makes good use of sarcasm and humour. This is the part that I enjoyed the most, where the comic elements lent the book a light-hearted vibe. 

What could be better?

The romance. There was simply no need for it. It was shallow and cliché, not to mention unrealistic. Why does it feel that Chetan has invented a formula and is going to continue with it in his future books too?

A mystery that hardly existed

Technically, the book cannot be called a mystery. There is a generous dose of drama, romance, and comedy that has been given much more importance and space than the mystery element. 

There are no edge-of-the-seat thriller vibes either. At no point in time, the reader feels in grip of the mystery. And while the reader does feel inclined to turn those pages, it isn’t because of the mystery quotient.

Why it reminds me of Alex Lake’s Seven Days?

Call it coincidence or luck, the very book I finished reading before 400 days was Seven Days by Alex Lake. Incidentally, the latter plotline was eerily similar to that of 400 days. While Seven Days didn’t have that amount of drama, it surely came with a generous amount of mystery and thrill.

Is the climax good enough?

The climax is okay. It is neither great nor bad, and some aspects of the book can be guessed way before the end.

Will it make for a good screen adaptation?

Yes, given the wholesome package that conventional Bollywood movies seek, the book would make for a good screen adaptation. Not that it matters much, but even some of the character names in the book share their name with Bollywood star kids.

Is the book entertaining?

It is a decent entertainer. 

The final verdict

Can be picked as a one-time read.

In the end

In the end, 400 days is yet another one-time read delivered by the author. Though effortless to read, it does not offer anything unique to the reader.

Pick the book if

  • You are a Chetan Bhagat fan.
  • You have previously enjoyed his works.
  • You are a beginner-level reader.
  • You are looking for a packaged entertainer.

Skip the book if

Can’t wait to read it? Buy your copy of 400 days by Chetan Bhagat using the link below.