Five Point Someone

Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT! is a 2004 novel written by Chetan Bhagat, an alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi and Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmadabad. This was his debut novel. It is one of the highest selling English novels published in India and remained on the bestseller list until now since its release in 2004, tied along with other novels by Chetan Bhagat.

The novel is set in the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, in the period 1991 to 1995. It is about the adventures of three mechanical engineering students (and friends), Hari Kumar (the narrator), Ryan Oberoi, and Alok Gupta, who fail to cope with the grading system of the IITs. Ryan is a bit smart and outspoken, whereas Alok and Hari are mildly cry babies. The three hostelmates – Alok, Hari and Ryan get off to a bad start in IIT – they screw up the first class quiz. And while they try to make amends, things only get worse. It takes them a while to realize: If you try and screw with the IIT system, it comes back to double screw you. Before they know it, they are at the lowest echelons of IIT society. They have a five-point-something GPA out of ten, ranking near the bottom of their classes.

The book is narrated in the first person by Hari, with some small passages by his friends Ryan and Alok, as well as a letter by Hari’s girlfriend Neha Cherian. It deals with the lives of the three friends, whose elation on making it to one of the best engineering colleges in India is quickly deflated by the rigor and monotony of academic work. Most of the book deals with the numerous attempts by the trio to cope with and/or beat the system as well as Hari’s fling with Neha who just happens to be the daughter of Prof. Cherian, the domineering head of the Mechanical Engineering Department. Their most important attempt was “C2D” (Cooperate to Dominate).

While the tone of the novel is humorous, it takes some dark turns every now and then, especially when it comes to the families of the protagonists. Most of the action, however, takes place inside the campus as the boys, led by the ever creative Ryan, frequently lamenting how the internationally lauded IIT system has stifled their creativity by forcing them to value grades more than anything else. Uninspiring teaching and numerous assignments add to their woes, though the boys do find a sympathizer in Prof. Veera, the new fluid mechanics professor.

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