Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Review: VIRGIN by Radhika Sanghani

Title: VIRGIN by Radhika Sanghani
Pub Date: August 5, 2014

ARC received from Penguin Group Berkley in exchange for an honest review.

Dannie says: I liked it better when it was called Forty Year Old Virgin or Losing It or...The Vagina Monologues get the picture.

Okay, I admit it…I didn’t do it.


This is normal, right?  I mean, just because everyone I know has talked like they’ve already done it doesn’t mean that they’re telling the truth…right?

It’s not like I’m asking for that much. I don’t need the perfect guy. I don’t need candlelight or roses. Honestly, I don’t even need a real bed.

The guys I know complain that girls are always looking for Mr. Right—do I have to wear a sign that says I’m only looking for Mr. Right Now?

Sooooo…anyone out there want sex? Anyone? Hello? Just for fun?

I am not going to die a virgin. One way or another I am going to make this happen.

Hey, what have I got to lose? Besides the obvious.


The humor--begrudgingly. Even though much of it is that crass style of humor that I'm not super crazy about, there were some good one liners, particularly once the blog excerpts start. The humor prior to that is in the vein of DOING IT by Melvin Burgess which, man did I hate that book. But, as this is intended for an older audience and is thus more appropriate humor for, you know, grownups, it makes a lot more sense. I'm just not sure it's very original. I mean the waxing scene was funnier in 40-Year-Old Virgin. The awkward teeth blow job was funnier in...hmm...I think that may have been 40 YOV, too? Something About Mary? American Pie? IDK. Some movie that came out A LONG TIME AGO. Perhaps it's because being a forty-year-old virgin is a lot more far-fetched, awkward, and oh, I don't know, humorous than being a twenty-one-year-old virgin?

The ending. I won't say more because spoilers, but I feel like this was the right ending of this particular character's journey. Which is to say, she doesn't deserve a better one. 


The random references to a middle grade series. I got most excited when there were references I recognized from Harry Potter, which is sort of embarrassing to admit because, yeah, this is definitely NOT a children's book. Oh and then the author references HP herself and I felt at least less alone in my awkward-perviness.

The "new" bestie on the block. Emma was probably my favorite character (even though her name is too close to Ellie and I was thus forever getting the names mixed up as I read.) Not only is she complicated and sincere, she's consistent and her personality makes sense. She also seemed to be the only of the three primary female characters with a brain a lot of the time. 


A more original primary theme. This is not my type of book, and honestly I can name at least three titles that did the "virginity loss quest" story that conveys the awkwardness and agony that is new sexuality in a less campy, more well-written, conflict-filled way. The writing was not great, but more than that, the plot itself wasn't really original. And some of it straight up didn't make sense.

Some depth and complication to the L.I. ***warning minor spoiler here*** Honestly and truly I kept hoping Chris the Emo would make a reappearance. He was the only male character who seemed like an actual person in the entire book. Instead we get this assclown. Really, this is a book that if I were reading for pleasure I would put down for one very simple reason: I honestly didn't care if any of the characters met their story goals. More than that, I sort of hoped they didn't.

More scene and less introspection. Since I wasn't really crazy about the MC I wasn't crazy to spend as much time in her head as we did. There was far too much introspection [read: whining] in the first half of the book for me. As a reader, I would have stopped reading before I got to the more balanced second-half that has both stronger dialogue and more entertaining narrative.

More organic/authentic dialogue. Wow. For real. There were times throughout this book that the dialogue felt so much like dialogue that it was painful. I questioned if the writer spent much time around actual human beings, or if she had critique partners at the very least. The conversations did not feel real to me at all.

A more likable main character. While I definitely found Ellie sympathetic (emphasis on the pathetic), she was too shallow to champion for me. I really dislike weak MCs who need the other characters to provide their insights. And I fully agreed with her childhood bestie that the MC's behavior toward guys over the year were increasingly desperate.  And beyond all that I found the character to be internally inconsistent. So she's done all this internet research and is absolutely crass and yet she doesn't have the skills to call a male escort service if she's really that desperate to get rid of her oh-so-terrible virginity? This isn't even getting into the fact that I felt like her whole quest and story goal made her unlikable to begin with. I was hoping for more of an arc to her personality as well as the overall character. I didn't get it. 

Less [definitely not more] virgin shaming.  I tend to keep my mouth shut on the whole anti-slut-shaming movement in general, because, well, I just do. But for me, it's not okay to say "slut shaming is bad" but to be totally okay with virgin-shaming, which is what a lot of the narrative in the first few chapters felt like for me. I don't think it's okay for New Adult novels to have a "fuck anything that moves because being a 21 year old virgin is pathetic" theme. For an older audience, I'm still not crazy about it, but I get the theme and humor and where the author was coming from. It's just not for me personally. But for me, and not even being someone who was necessarily a late bloomer myself, I was a little irritated by the lack of any female character with the perspective waiting is good.

Short story long, this one didn't do a lot for me. Well, no. It irritated me a lot. Not only was I not crazy about the major story elements as a reader, but the writing is just simply not good. Chances are many of you will think I'm wrong, though. If you're a fan of painful virginity stories, Bridget Jones' Diary, The Vagina Monologues, Losing It, and Forty-Year-Old Virgin and you don't mind those ideas being borrowed upon heavily, this could be a fun read.

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