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An “ethnic chick-lit” entry about a southern California Indo-American woman, who turns out to be the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Kali, reads like a dumbed-down episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Maya is 30, unmarried, unemployed, and the only one in her extended family who isn’t a doctor. A matchmaking aunt sets her up with Tahir, who flies in from Delhi, and, when Maya goes to the airport to tell him she refuses to marry a stranger, she’s kidnapped by Ram and Sanjay, taken to a motel room, and informed that the dark goddess Kali has returned in Maya’s body. Her task: to recognize evil and stop it. Maya drops by Barnes & Noble to research Kali. Result: “If I were Kali’s personal shopper I’d dress her in Dolce & Gabbana and advise leaving the necklace of freshly cut heads at home.” In sessions at Taco Bell, Ram tutors Maya in her duties, providing her with a ruby-encrusted sword and suggestions about how to take on her powers. Meanwhile, Tahir, who turns out to be a “hottie,” is also unwilling to accept the traditional arranged marriage. He and Maya are having a bumpy time of it (she’s always disappearing to take care of Kali business; he keeps flirting with her cousin Nadia). But Maya continues to find him appealing (at a party, her gynecologist aunt, seeing her gaze at Tahir, announces, “Maya’s aroused, I recognize the signs. . . . No doubt her inner labia have begun to swell and darken in color”). Finally Maya gets drunk at a bar, calls Tahir to pick her up, and they end up in bed together. Afterward, Maya informs us, “The goddess was pretty damn good in the sack.” Too bad that Maya is a vulgar, shallow, self-involved, unappealing narrator, given to puking and profanity when she’s not busy telling us about her Manolos, Tommy Bahama sandals, Armani jeans, and pink cashmere Ralph Lauren top.

Witless and lame debut.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-059036-X
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Avon/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2004