Book Review: The Perfect Literarian

Sangeetha Alwar
3 min readFeb 19, 2021

Young indie authors, Mehak Walia and Trupti Kadni on their first venture in writing manage to do what I have been dreaming of (and been putting off) for years now — write a book.

The Perfect Literarian aims to bring a few things YA seems to be obsessed with, at least to an oldie like me — improbably hot men, murders and some nice steamy romance. This duo has decided to add some spice into the proverbial “hot mess” by giving us a serial killer who loves to read. Of course, erudite villains aren’t news to the seasoned reader, in Indian YA fiction, they might as well be.

The book follows the brooding (duh), salt and peppered detective, Aaron on his relentless search for a formidable serial killer who leaves Shakespearean couplets for the LAPD. His tragic story of loss and suffering takes up a lot of the narrative which isn’t as problematic as the sections where we meet the antagonist.

YA fiction, for the most part, has a very concerning villain-fetish. I didn’t enjoy it when I was young, I do not enjoy it now. The whole idea of “yes, he’s a horrible man who commits heinous crimes, but his abs are of a Greek god” narrative gets my goat. Most of our current tv series have made this their sole agenda (*cough* Lucifer *cough*). This antagonist is not different. There are a lot of scenes where his shower takes precedence over the plot, not that a lot of readers would complain — it’s the male gaze turned inward, serves you right.

If only some of the paragraphs dedicated to describing the sinfully delectable profile of the antagonist had been donated to the women in the narrative, I’d have been a happy reader. However, the plot does its job, shows you a series of gory murders and takes you on a tour of LA in search of the killer.

The book is self-published, so the entire text has evaded the editorial blue pencil, which is unfortunate. The Perfect Literarian is, contrary to its title, grammatically illiterate.

The reader in me screams at grammatical and semantic errors but it is pacified by the English Prof in me. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in four years of teaching the language, it is that students are capable of extraordinary things as long as they are willing to take the first step. It’s the same with young writers (who am I to speak of writing!), it takes a lot to write the first book and once the cobwebs are cleared, it just flows! However, I do not place the entire blame for grammatical mishaps on the shoulders of the authors, there should have been an editor who could help them traverse the horrendous landscape of language, but editing is an expensive affair, I acknowledge that. I could go off on a tangent and talk about hegemony in the publishing industry and how gruelling it is to publish from the periphery, but that’s for another day.

Walia and Kadni had a story in them and now the world knows it. They have only just picked up their quills — (more like their laptops, but quills sound so magical, don’t they?) and they have many more wonderful stories to share with us. They’re already working on their next novel, this time centred in India.

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Sangeetha Alwar

A Professor of English by day, a “Quasimodoesque” figure while hunched over the iPad, a reluctant academician and a passionate reader.