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Once Upon an IAS Exam — K. Vijayakarthikeyan

Publisher: Rupa Publications India

Pages: 142

Price: Rs. 195 INR(Paperback), Rs. 147 INR(Kindle Edition)

ISBN: 978–9353045951

Buy here: https://amzn.to/2Jr4DRO

Vishy’s worst nightmare — failing the UPSC’s Civil Services exam — has come true. He is plagued by insecurity, fear and doubts. The mother of all competitive examinations has rejected him and he needs a reason to live. So, what does he do? He tells his best friend Rithika, ‘I love you… Will you marry me?’
In Once Upon an IAS Exam, twenty-five-year-old Vishy tries to overcome the uncertainty and confusion about his future and figure out ways of convincing Rithika to marry him. Things turn even more interesting, funny and emotional as Vishy reattempts to conquer ‘Mount IAS’. As he tries to take his academic and love life towards safety, he seeks refuge in the world of IAS coaching centres.
Set in the bustling Civil Services exam coaching hub of Anna Nagar in Chennai, this book is a hilarious account of the actuality, stress and struggle faced by millions of candidates who prepare year after year for one of India’s toughest exams. Join Vishy as he sets out to prove his mettle to the world — and himself. Will Rithika accept the love of her best friend? Will Vishy overcome his sense of failure? Will there be a happily ever after?

About the author

Dr K. Vijayakarthikeyan is a medico turned bureaucrat currently working as commissioner, Coimbatore Municipal Corporation, and is the youngest ever officer to have held this charge. He is well known for his hugely popular initiatives as an IAS officer and has won several awards and accolades for his pioneering work in land, solid waste and urban management. He has authored three Tamil bestsellers, Ethum Doorathil IAS, Adhuvum Idhuvum and Orey Kallil 13 Maangai. On sunny weekends, he can be found wreaking havoc on the cricket ground with his explosive batting and deceptive spin.

My take on the book

Vishy just failed in UPSC prelims but goes ahead and proposes to his best friend Rithika. Not one to easily give up on his UPSC dream, he plans to prepare for the next year in a more organized way, by choosing a different optional subject and also by getting enrolled in a coaching center. The story is about the friends Vishy makes at this center, how he crosses hurdles one after another; prelims, mains, interview — will he make it to each of these challenging but important stages before reaching his ultimate goal; a love story that starts at one of Vishy’s low moments, does it sustain amidst the pressure of clearing the exam; how are Vishy’s parents going to support him at each stage of this exam marathon.

The book is a complete account of what goes into preparing for one of the most challenging and prestigious exams in India. The book covers the smaller nuisances and details that only a person going through this journey would experience. All the characters have good graph and add to the narration, while being very relate-able.

I would have liked to see some point of conflict as the story goes very much as expected with less or known twists. The exam preparation, family, friends, love, coaching centers, tea stalls — there are multiple angles and areas explored by writer through the protagonist but with a near perfect guy like Vishy and simple circumstances, the story ends up being cliched at places. The writer could have explored more around the scenarios to give a more edgy treatment to the story.

At less than 150 pages, it is a very quick and easy breezy read. With simple words and easy narration, this one is a good one time read. Overall a feel good story without a single dull moment.

My rating