Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert
At once engaging and cleverly creative, Ricardo Alexanders' Bollywood Invasion enrapts readers with a fun and fantastical coming of age story, set in a well posed merging of reality and fiction which surpasses the reaches of time and continents.
Instantly the story draws you in, as initially, we meet John Palmieri living in modern times in Brooklyn; he's a nerd and Beatles lover in high school and unsatisfied with his lower middle class existence. Things start with him in the throes of a dream, once again being bested by his arch-enemy Frank Castellano. He loathes Frank, who seems to have so much more than John; smarter mouth, bigger house, more friends, better stuff, including, the attention of the girl he secretly loves -Samantha.
The real adventure begins when fate crashes into his life, via an accident, knocking John unconscious. When John awakes, he finds himself in a parallel existence, where he has been transported back in time to late 1950's, India. He wakes up as eighteen year old Raj Scindia, a prince in the Indian royal family. Naturally, he's initially confused by his sudden transportation to a completely foreign life and culture with many humorous moments ensuing as he tries to wrap his head around what has happened to him.
Meanwhile, as John acclimates to his new life, he realizes he suddenly has the life he has always dreamed of, a life which now includes money, wealth, eager women and extensive privileges. However, as well as being rich and privileged, the prince whose life John has taken over, also includes several unexpected issues such as being engaged to a young lady through pre-arranged marriage, having the reputation of being a spoiled, adulterous scamp, as well as being a second year student in a mechanical engineering college. Ultimately, deciding to make the best of his new circumstances, John plays his privileged new life to the hilt; he fakes being psychic and parties not really taking his new life too seriously until he meets the best friend of his promised fiance, Ankita and falls instantly head over heels for her which within his new culture gives rise to many issues. While looking for ways to win her over, John forays into the world of music by joining a local band and uses his extensive knowledge of Beatles songs to propel his group "The Beetos" to "Beatles" status making him and his group rock stars, thusly creating a parallel universe with the Bollywood version of the Beatles. Consequently, their new found fame comes with unexpected repercussions, as the story progresses with scenarios that parallel events that really happened with the famed Beatles.
Definitively, Bollywood Invasion proffers readers a compelling read that entertains the imagination with a unforgettable journey into adulthood. This was a winning combination with its twisted melding of Beatlemania, romance, drama, humor, fantasy elements, and intriguing characters, especially Raj/John who seems to a loosely posed reincarnation of John Lennon. This would make a worthwhile read for fans of fantasy or YA reads.