WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5
The number 33 might not mean a lot to us but in a remote town, in Assam, it means the world to a kid who ponders over his life and the dreaded number which he needs in his board examinations to pass; to be termed successful. I have always argued for the need for education in the development and growth of a child because it helps to impart a sense of the world in a child.
It is education which makes our children aware of the bigger world that lies outside their own little paradigms. It is education which gives them a choice to choose their future. And it is again education which gives the children their imagination, their curiosity, their own unique identity. Education defines them and it is what makes them different from the rest of the world. But unfortunately, like all things which are initiated with good intentions, education has also been turned into a process to mass produce engineers, lawyers, doctors, charted accountants and others.
A novel and humble concept such as “Creating imaginative ideas” has been turned to produce machines with little to zero capacity to think for themselves. The book chasing 33% is a smart and quirky remark on this side of education and it does the job brilliantly using the protagonist in the form of a child who is curious to the brim and is someone who questions everything. It is the story of a child and his two friends. One of them is Maggie; a smart and aspiring MBA grad, and then there is Swadhin, a tech genius who loves to build machines and understand their working rather than cramming up what is taught in his books.
The book has been divided into chapters in such a manner that each chapter reflects each subject of the board examinations. It discusses the perspective of the protagonist on each subject with a series of witty jokes played in midst of the narratives. He is a child who looks through all the bullshit and with his innocence leaves even the most rigid of adults stunned. He is a child whose future is bound by the fateful board exams; a child who is regularly instructed by his teachers, friends, principal, and parents to study.
The book is well written, quick paced and I was able to complete the book in a single sitting of 3 hours. Though there were a few editorial mistakes in the book but I loved the way how each character played his/her part in the life of the protagonist. Chasing 33% though at times might come off as a bit repetitive because of so many books in the market dealing with the same topic but still, it manages to stand out in a unique way of its own.
As the story is so well assembled, little incidents in the book reflect the maturity of the author and his capability to understand the problem he is writing on. This is something I loved a lot. For example, the author takes up the board exams in English and Assamese in which the children are supposed to write essays on a topic of their better understanding. It reminded me of my school days when I saw people cramming up essays from reference books, hence killing their creativity in the process. The author comments upon this in a very sharp and quirky way, highlighting what is wrong with our education system and how it has turned into a creativity killer.
In the end, I rate Chasing 33% three and a half stars on entertainment quotient. It is a chucklesome ride down the memory lane and is a must-read book for someone who is looking to reminiscence about her childhood, and for someone who wants to understand how flawed our education system has become.
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