YA is a highly diverse and booming genre, but there’s one sub-genre that’s always thriving: romantic comedies. I’ve read some phenomenal YA romcoms and some not so great ones, but more often than not, they can lack originality and diversity. When I stumbled across When Dimple Met Rishi I was immediately excited, I had never read a YA rom-com focusing on modern arranged marriages. However, if there’s one thing I cannot stand, it’s when women tear other women down, and When Dimple Met Rishi is chock full of just that. The pitting of women against women and insufferable characters really ruined the potential of this book, and made it a struggle for me to even finish.
Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?
Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.
The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?
Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.
The plot of this book started promising – it was a refreshing story about a young adult bucking her family’s tradition and carving a less conventional path in her life. Oddly, after setting up the main plot as being about Dimple attending a coding camp, the camp was practically forgotten. It was barely mentioned after the first 50 pages, and then the book switched from focusing on coding to a talent show? It was like the author couldn’t make up her mind between whether she wanted to write a Camp Rock fanfic or if she wanted to capitalize on women in STEM fields. I understand that this is a romcom, but that doesn’t excuse it from totally ditching the main plot and setting. The plot pacing was all over the place and the writing was ok at best.
Dimple is pointblank one of the worst YA leads I’ve ever read. She was relentlessly nasty and aimed a large part of her ire at other women. She was also a character who needed constant validation or else she seemed to immediately melt down. The book began with Dimple focussing 100% on her programming future – and that was the only time I really liked her. She was highly driven to succeed and win the prize of working with another woman in tech to kickstart her career. However, once she actually got to the camp, she didn’t seem to spend any time networking or coding and suddenly began intensely judging the other women around her. From comments about what other women were wearing to tearing them down for not being as intense about the competition as she was. She refused to see the point of view of others and was unable to see that she was a small fish in a big pond at the camp. Her epic meltdown when she lost the coding competition was what really sealed how terrible a character she was – she was inconsolable and wouldn’t leave her room after she wasn’t the best.
Rishi was a bland character with a knack for screwing situations up. He also refused to take no for an answer on multiple occasions, which is always a toxic trait. When we first meet Rishi, he was storming up to a woman he’s never met and proposing marriage before he even greets her and then was upset when she reacted by defending herself. This lack of people skills would have been acceptable if he had grown and developed better people skills, but he never progressed or evolved as the book went on. Rishi and Dimple had very weird chemistry – once or twice it felt authentic, but for the majority of the book it felt forced and fake. Also, given their character arc, the ending felt like it was out of character for their relationship – a happy ending for the sake of a happy ending is one of the worst ways to end a book. I want the characters to earn their ending or build up to it, not to be given a happy ending arbitrarily.
My high hopes were very, very let down with this book. It was a struggle to finish this – its sluggish plot, inconsistent characterization, and habit of pitting women against each other all made me very seriously considered quitting reading it. I’d highly recommend you skip this book – there is no shortage of good YA romance on the market right now – if you’re looking for an interesting YA romance, check out Tweet Cute or Dumplin’. 1/5