I’ve been reading Dev’s work for a while now. And while I’m not caught up on The Rajes series, I was intrigued by The Emma Project. It’s one of those series that I seem to be reading out of order and it’s just mildly confusing haha. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
No one can call Vansh Raje’s life anything but charmed. Handsome—Vogue has declared him California’s hottest single—and rich enough to spend all his time on missions to make the world a better place. Add to that a doting family and a contagiously sunny disposition and Vansh has made it halfway through his twenties without ever facing anything to throw him off his admittedly spectacular game.
A couple years from turning forty, Knightlina (Naina) Kohli has just gotten out of a ten-year-long fake relationship with Vansh’s brother and wants only one thing from her life…fine, two things. One, to have nothing to do with the unfairly blessed Raje family ever again. Two, to bring economic independence to millions of women in South Asia through her microfinance foundation and prove her father wrong about, well, everything.
Just when Naina’s dream is about to come to fruition, Vansh Raje shows up with his misguided Emma Project… And suddenly she’s fighting him for funding and wondering if a friends-with-benefits arrangement that’s as toe-curlingly hot as it is fun is worth risking her life’s work for.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
TW: fatphobia, ableist comment, parental abuse, domestic abuse (between side characters)
To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of Emma. But when I saw that The Emma Project is a gender bent Emma, I was intrigued. Connected to the other Rajes stories, The Emma Project deals with expectations and (mis)conceptions. It’s about having to confront some truths about ourselves and figuring out if we are motivated to look closer. While I think it’s best if read with the others in the series, you can definitely read without (even though this book seems to have a close connection to the previous one especially).
Multiple POV, The Emma Project allows us to see the accusations and miscommunications. How someone can sometimes see so clearly the pieces of ourselves we hide. But also how they can be distracted by their impressions of us. It took me a bit of time to get into Naina and Vansh as main characters. And Dev does not shy away from flawed, complex, or characters who make mistakes. Suprisingly, my favorite POV ended up being a character who isn’t even in the synopsis.
I don’t know enough about the original, but I have my guesses about who this other POV is supposed to be. Even after finishing, I’m not sure I ever completely ended up loving Naina or Vansh. But I appreciated how Vansh is, on the one hand, very privileged, while also navigating his learning disability and his own motivations. At the same time, Naina’s driven nature and passion instantly connected with me.
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All in all, The Emma Project is a fabulous sequel which will mean more if you’ve read all of them. On its own it’s great for fans of Emma and also for readers looking for a story about pushing back against parental expectations and forging our own path. Find The Emma Project on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, Bookshop.org & The Book Depository.