When I first started reading true dummy I picked it up with a lot of apprehension. Its not the kind of book I would normally pick up during my monthly book buying sprees. It has a lot of philosophy and a blurb which says “True Dummy engages with questions about existence, ambition and the meaning and purpose of life while addressing the most soul searching dilemmas of the human race”. I have a general rule while buying books. Never buy books which promise to tell you the meaning of life. I always say, Hell!! When someone can find out the meaning and purpose of life the whole joy of living is lost. I think life is interesting and exciting only because of the fact that it is hugely uncertain and u never know what to expect at which corner. But when one gets a sincere request from someone asking one to review their first book one is intrigued and more so when a free copy of the book is shipped at one’s doorstep. ;)
Anyway, I must say I started reading true dummy with pre conceived notions about the book assuming it must be one of those books to belt our free and unwanted gyaan.
The book is about a boy who runs away from his village along with his friend to a distant island – the fabled island of true pearls or the achievers after listening to an old woman in his village who tells him about the island and those people who are true pearls and those who are dummies. He reaches the island meets a man who tells his friend and him about the three different ways to become a true pearl. Either take the money gate, the power gate or the fame gate, prove yourself worthy of being a pearl in the “Rings” and become a true pearl. In his quest to be a true pearl he falls in love, endures betrayal, pain, suffering, experiences true love, learns from his experiences, learns from his mistakes, learns to differentiate between genuine people and superficial people, meets different kinds of people and his experiences finally culminate to an interesting and fairly gripping and unexpected climax.
As I read the book I could find stark similarities between true dummy and paul coelho’s alchemist. The style of narration, not revealing many names and just using terms like the boy, the old woman, well dressed man etc, the setting of the novel, the basic premise of both the books being the same – follow your dreams.
But on further reading I found a lot of differences too. For one I seemed to understand true dummy, which is more than what can be said of what I felt about alchemist. There were many places in the alchemist which never made sense to me primarily because I am person who needs facts on my face. Subtle hints and inner meanings always elude me. True dummy excels here. Its simple language and powerful narrative make sure you read the book till the end.
The book does not grip the reader and I would definitely not call it a page turner but there is something about the book which makes u want to finish it and find out finally what happens to the protagonist. In spite of this being his first book I was very impressed with some of the examples and stories used by Ashish Jaiswal which are very simple yet make you sit up and think. Especially the part where he talks about how the human brain is divided into two parts and goes on to explain what each part does is really good. Similarly all his conversations with Ira where she tells him stories is also quite engrossing. This is one book which gives u gyaan- and loads of it but doesn’t get preachy or over the board at any point of time. It is like the pachatantra or Aesop fables for people above the age of 20. Jaiswal gives you gyaan in a way that u don’t even realize you have been enlightened.
Furthermore some of the one liners in True Dummy are sure to stay in your mind for a long time. Like “people who are afraid of death are the ones who have no imagination” or “the tears of defeat are not to be spent. They are to be saved for fuelling forthcoming battles” or the one liners about talent and practice etc are quite good.
There are some places where the book gets a little wishy washy and you wish the author had tightened up the story a little bit and I personally felt the climax dragged a little bit but given the fact that this is Mr.Jaiswal’s first book I think I am more than willing to pardon these flaws. It is a very very sincere attempt by a first time author and the effort must be lauded and appreciated. The book might not attain iconic status like the Alchemist did and taking a leaf from the book itself, it might not go on to become a “true pearl” in the world of books but if you read the book you will understand that it is not even necessary to become one.
Good Job Mr.Jaiswal.