Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Three friends venture into the most dangerous corners of a sprawling Indian city to find their missing classmate.Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away.Jai drools outside sweet shops, watches too many reality police shows, and considers himself to be smarter than his friends Pari (though she gets the best grades) and Faiz (though Faiz has an actual job). When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit.But what begins as a game turns sinister as other children start disappearing from their neighborhood. Jai, Pari, and Faiz have to confront terrified parents, an indifferent police force, and rumors of soul-snatching djinns. As the disappearances edge ever closer to home, the lives of Jai and his friends will never be the same again.Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India.Take a look at the Reading Guide for Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line.

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line Details

TitleDjinn Patrol on the Purple Line
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseFeb 4th, 2020
PublisherRandom House
ISBN-139780593129197
Rating
GenreFiction, Mystery, Cultural, India, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Contemporary, Adult, Literary Fiction, Adult Fiction, Crime

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line Review

  • Paromjit
    January 1, 1970
    Journalist and author Deepa Anappara draws our attention to the horrors and tragedy of the terrifyingly enormous numbers of children that go missing in India, a matter that is largely met by indifference in mainstream Indian society. The impoverished slums and community are depicted with an astonishing vibrancy as the people go about their daily lives and the challenges they face, lying within sight of the wealthy and powerful to whom the poor are invisible and a blight on their landscape. Journalist and author Deepa Anappara draws our attention to the horrors and tragedy of the terrifyingly enormous numbers of children that go missing in India, a matter that is largely met by indifference in mainstream Indian society. The impoverished slums and community are depicted with an astonishing vibrancy as the people go about their daily lives and the challenges they face, lying within sight of the wealthy and powerful to whom the poor are invisible and a blight on their landscape. Annappara provides a pertinent social, political, cultural and economic commentary on modern India, with its huge wealth inequalities, class, sexism, crime, police corruption, abuse, exploitation, and religious tensions and divisions. Interspersed within the narrative are the folklore and superstitions that abound in the community, such as the Djinns.Jai is a poor young 9 year old child, who is obsessed with TV crime drama shows, so when his class mate Bahadur goes missing, he wants to emulate those shows by investigating. He is assisted by the brighter and smarter girl, Pari and his friend, Faiz. In a narrative that brings danger and goes around in circles as more children disappear, their investigation comes far too close to home for Jai on a case where the grim realities of contemporary India bring a loss of innocence and underline an absence of all of childhood should be, safe, secure and protected. This is a harrowing and desperately heartbreaking read of a national tragedy where there are rarely any happy endings. A brilliant novel that highlights such an important and urgent issue in India. Many thanks to Random House Vintage for an ARC.
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  • Paige
    January 1, 1970
    I really enjoyed the atmosphere created. The environment reveals a distinct separation of classes and the varied lives according to social status and monetary value. Police negligence, religious violence, and educational values are exposed through this fictional tale set in India. The language was great, and I enjoyed the story being told through the eyes of nine-year-old Jai. “The man scratches at his feathery beard. “Kids around here disappear all the time,” he says. “One day they’ll have too I really enjoyed the atmosphere created. The environment reveals a distinct separation of classes and the varied lives according to social status and monetary value. Police negligence, religious violence, and educational values are exposed through this fictional tale set in India. The language was great, and I enjoyed the story being told through the eyes of nine-year-old Jai. “The man scratches at his feathery beard. “Kids around here disappear all the time,” he says. “One day they’ll have too much glue and decide to try their luck somewhere else. Another day they’ll get hit by a rubbish truck and end up in a hospital. Some other morning, they’ll be picked up by the police and sent to a juvenile home. We don’t make a fuss about anybody vanishing.”” The story itself became repetitive. After one child disappeared, Jai and Pari investigated and played detective, and I was into it. However, then the same thing just kept happening. Another would disappear, Jai and Pari would investigate, turn up empty handed and go home, then another disappear, etc. So, the progress wasn’t as engaging as I would have preferred. For me, the most powerful chapters were “This Story Will Save Your Life” which were mostly stories of the djinns and other beliefs regarding wandering children. My favorite scene was when Jai and Pari went to the railway station. Because of the title and blurb, I have to admit that I thought a big portion of this novel would take place around the railway. However, there was only one big scene there in the beginning. I wasn’t too pleased with the ending, but I respect the underlying messages delivered to the reader through that conclusion.I think the themes embedded in this story are significantly valuable. However, the progression of the story was uniform. Overall, I liked the story because of the important leitmotifs. Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this copy. Opinions are my own.More on railway children:Railway Children in IndiaWhat happens to "railway" children
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  • Carolyn
    January 1, 1970
    This is a tragic story that underlines the shocking fact that an estimated 180 children go missing in India each day. It describes the religious, social, and financial divides problematic in modern India. The story immersed me in the vibrantly described sights, food and fragrances of its slum setting. Here the people mostly love their children and care for the people in their neighbourhood despite the poverty, drudgery, and the squalor in which they live. The trauma of missing children began to This is a tragic story that underlines the shocking fact that an estimated 180 children go missing in India each day. It describes the religious, social, and financial divides problematic in modern India. The story immersed me in the vibrantly described sights, food and fragrances of its slum setting. Here the people mostly love their children and care for the people in their neighbourhood despite the poverty, drudgery, and the squalor in which they live. The trauma of missing children began to raise their suspicions, and anger at their corrupt and inefficient police force. Nine-year-old Jai, a Hindu schoolboy is obsessed with detective and police shows on TV. He decides to become a child detective and enlists two of his schoolmates to serve as his assistants after a boy at his school, Bahadur, goes missing. Pari is smarter but is given a subordinate role because she is a girl. His friend Faiz, is. Moslem boy. He misses a lot of school as he needs to work to help his parents. Their investigation starts amidst complete indifference by the local police. The police make no effort to look for Bahadur, claiming he ran away. The investigations by the three amateur detectives takes them into very dangerous parts of the city, such as the busy marketplace, the filthy local dump, the bordello district, and the train station at the end of the Blue Line. Rising above their dirty, ramshackle slum neighbourhood can be seen the highrise apartments and penthouses of the wealthy. As they interview families, shopkeepers, friends and suspects, they find no evidence of what happened to their missing schoolmate. Jai and Faiz suspect he may have been snatched by an evil Jinn (spirit), but the less superstitious Pari tries to dissuade them of this belief. Soon other children go missing. Omvir, a friend of Bahadur, vanishes. Next, a 16-year-old girl, Aanchal, disappears. The police insist that Omvir has simply run away and refuse any search effort. Aanchal was a good girl employed as a beautician while studying English in hopes of becoming a call centre worker. The police, with no valid evidence, said she was a brothel worker in her 20s and had run away with a much older Moslem lover. When next, a 4-year-old girl disappears, not only are the parents of the missing distraught, but the entire neighbourhood is frantic and afraid for the safety of the children. Since these five children were all Hindus, the suspicion and blame falls on local Moslems, putting innocent Moslem lives are in danger. When people complain about the inefficiency and disinterest of the police, they are threatened that their homes will be bulldozed for stirring up trouble. The case becomes more difficult when two Moslem children, a brother and sister, are next to disappear. Jai is becoming discouraged with his Djinn Patrol’s lack of progress, and then to add to the tragic crime wave, his older sister, a star athlete, is next to disappear. Will Jai and his two friends manage to find any of the missing youngsters or any evidence of what happened to them? Who is committing these atrocious crimes? What is the motivation? Will his sister be found in time? What will be the aftermath for their families and neighbours? Many thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada for this poignant and heartfelt story based on alarming facts.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    [2.8] The strength of this novel is the vivid setting of the Indian basti (slum) and surrounding city that 9-year old Jai navigates. It is written as a light-hearted caper featuring Jai imitating a TV detective to find a missing friend. Until more children go missing and it is clear that there is a serious problem, it feels like a middle-grade novel. I ended up skimming the 2nd half. I'm not sure who the intended audience is - but it isn't me.Thank you to Random House for the ARC.
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  • Louise Wilson
    January 1, 1970
    Jail lives in a poor slum in India. Children start going missing and he decides to investigate like the detectives do in his favourite TV shows. But Jai is just nine years old. The local police are not interested in finding the children. The depiction of slum life is harrowing. It has also been sensitively written. Sometimes the book is a bit confusing and repetitive. The story is intriguing, funny and heart wrenching. I really liked Jai and his two friends who tried to find the missing Jail lives in a poor slum in India. Children start going missing and he decides to investigate like the detectives do in his favourite TV shows. But Jai is just nine years old. The local police are not interested in finding the children. The depiction of slum life is harrowing. It has also been sensitively written. Sometimes the book is a bit confusing and repetitive. The story is intriguing, funny and heart wrenching. I really liked Jai and his two friends who tried to find the missing children. The story is tb old from Jai's point of view. The author paints a picture of what life is like living in a slum.I would like to thank NetGalley, Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and the author Deepa Anappara for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    “Do you know there are people who will make you their slaves? You’ll be locked up in the bathroom and let out only to clean the house. Or you’ll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won’t be able to breathe. Or you’ll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets.” Hundreds of children go missing in India and some do not survive. The author of the book wanted to draw attention to these facts, but she also wanted to show “Do you know there are people who will make you their slaves? You’ll be locked up in the bathroom and let out only to clean the house. Or you’ll be taken across the border to Nepal and forced to make bricks in kilns where you won’t be able to breathe. Or you’ll be sold to criminal gangs that force children to snatch mobiles and wallets.” Hundreds of children go missing in India and some do not survive. The author of the book wanted to draw attention to these facts, but she also wanted to show the “resilience, cheerfulness and swagger” of the marginalized children that she had interviewed when she was a journalist. Those characteristics are captured in Jai, the 9 year old amateur detective, and his friends who try to track down why one if their schoolmates has disappeared. And he is not the only one who fails to return home. At least Jai tried to solve the mystery, which is more than can be said for the police, despite the bribes that they received from people who really couldn’t afford to pay them. The mystery and detection part of this book was just ok for me. What I really liked about the book were the incredible details about life in a basti (poor area) of India. The author doesn’t bother to translate for non Indians so it’s like a disorienting immersion in the country - including the homes, jobs, food, schools, pay toilets and smog. For example: “Quarter runs a gang that beats up teachers and rents out fake parents to students when they get into trouble and the headmaster insists on meeting their ma-papas.”, “...he stops at a theka in Bhoot Bazaar to drink a quarter-peg of daru, which is how he got the name Quarter.” and “His nose learned to catch the weakest of smells from hours before – marigold garlands, sliced papayas served with a pinch of chaat powder on top, puris fried in oil — to guide his steps to the right or left in dark corners.”The story is told primarily from Jai’s point of view, and he was a terrific child, but then there are also chapters from the point of view of each of the missing children. So, I liked the descriptions and the voices, but I’m just not that crazy about child detectives. Overall, I found the book both educational and moving. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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  • Matt
    January 1, 1970
    First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Deepa Anappara and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.Delving into to the darker side of life in India, Deepa Anappara presents readers with this most impactful mystery. With close to two hundred children disappearing off Indian streets daily, this story about a missing child leaves the reader feeling a little less than comfortable. Jai may only be First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Deepa Anappara and Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.Delving into to the darker side of life in India, Deepa Anappara presents readers with this most impactful mystery. With close to two hundred children disappearing off Indian streets daily, this story about a missing child leaves the reader feeling a little less than comfortable. Jai may only be nine years old, but he seems to know just how life ought to be. When a boy goes missing in his school, Jai works with some of his friends to locate the young boy. Well-versed on police procedurals from his time watching television, Jai is sure hat he can lead a brigade just like on the screen. He’ll come across a great deal fo poverty, with people who will do and sell anything for their next meal, and travel late into the night to the far reaches of the city, all in hopes of capturing a killer, just like those on television. Refusing to back down, Jai encounters a number of stumbling blocks along the way, including incompetent police officers, members of gangs, and even the mysterious djinn, a spirit with a penchant for children. Forgetting the danger that creeps up regularly Jai will not return without answers, all in a place where another missing child is swept into the rubbish bin and forgotten. Jai refuses to ignore his intuition, even as those around him write him off as foolish. An interesting take with a strong backstory, surely of interest to some readers. That being said, I could not effectively connect with the story and it left me needing more to sustain my attention.I am always fascinated to learn about new countries and cultures, particularly when the reader hails from that part of the world. Deepa Anappara not only spent her early life in India, but has written extensively about child disappearances and poverty on the streets. She brings much to the table in this piece, using a number of essential young characters to give the story a different perspective. The use of Jai and his friends helps to enrich the story for a reader who may know little about life on the streets or the horrible statistics about missing children. As this young boy looks for his classmate, he is fuelled by the sense that he, too, can locate someone in short order, as though he were closing a case before the credits scroll, like his favourite television personalities. The cast of characters seems to work well, different from one another and always trying to provide additional flavouring when it is useful. The story itself was well crafted and paces itself relatively well. I suppose I found myself lost in the shuffle from character depictions and how things developed. There is a strong story and the narrative keeps the reader intrigued, but I could not find a place on which to latch myself. Like many of the faceless people who see and hear nothing, I felt as though the essential aspects of the book passed me by. To see that others enjoyed it is pleasing, though I am surely going to sit in the minority outside the tent and say that this book was not one I found stellar. Kudos, Madam Anappara, for shedding some light on the horrors of missing children. I trust many will find the pieces I could not in this novel and give you the praise you seek.Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at: http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
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  • Marchpane
    January 1, 1970
    The Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line combines humour, warmth and wit with tragedy and deprivation: innocence and optimism with bigotry and corruption. Despite the ‘djinn patrol’ of the title, there’s little magic here.Set in a basti, or Indian slum, where children have vanished and the police are disinclined to help, the novel follows 9-year-old Jai and his friends as they play detective to try and solve the case. It’s an incredible window on daily life in such a place – the precarity of The Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line combines humour, warmth and wit with tragedy and deprivation: innocence and optimism with bigotry and corruption. Despite the ‘djinn patrol’ of the title, there’s little magic here.Set in a basti, or Indian slum, where children have vanished and the police are disinclined to help, the novel follows 9-year-old Jai and his friends as they play detective to try and solve the case. It’s an incredible window on daily life in such a place – the precarity of knowing the authorities could bulldoze your home at any moment, but also the strong family and community bonds that form there. The sights sounds and smells of the basti are vividly evoked as Jai & investigate, and this immersive depiction is really well-balanced to be neither sensationalised nor sugar-coated.The child characters are so endearing and naïve that I was a little unprepared for how dark this novel becomes by the end (I’ve since learned that the story is based on real events). The heart-wrenching conclusion really brings home some hard truths - about how poverty renders people invisible, and the way vulnerable communities are so often failed by the systems meant to protect them.
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found. These are staggering statistics and the basis of this novel. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a coming of age novel set in the slums of an Indian city. Young Jai has a vivid imagination and a fascination with cop shows. When one of his classmates goes missing he enlists his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, into "detectivating" with him. As the three set about on their case we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and 180 children go missing each day in India. Only 1 in 3 will ever be found. These are staggering statistics and the basis of this novel. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a coming of age novel set in the slums of an Indian city. Young Jai has a vivid imagination and a fascination with cop shows. When one of his classmates goes missing he enlists his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, into "detectivating" with him. As the three set about on their case we are introduced to the sights, sounds, and characters that fill the basti. Although this book shifts narrators to lend a voice to the victims as they go missing, it is told entirely from the perspective of children. Ranging in age from 5 to 16 you get to see how much they are neglected and overlooked, how much responsibility is placed in their small laps and the dangers they face as they try to navigate this world. You also get to see how they pass on knowledge through stories - "Listen. This story may save your life." You're exposed to the corruption of the police force who are more concerned with collecting their hafta than looking for the lost. Police are not there to protect but to be feared. Parents are hesitant to report crimes. The threat of bulldozers demolishing their settlement is very real. You get to see how prejudice colors the investigation. Gender bias leads to adultification of female victims. Girls are mislabeled as older. Their sexual reputation becomes a focal point. Frictions between religious groups are exacerbated as rumor and innuendo lead to vigilante justice while the people wait for the police to respond. Deepa Anappara has spent 11 years working as a journalist in India. Through her interviews with impoverished students she got to see their pluckiness in the face of adversity. She knew that she wanted to tell this story but felt that only a novel would give her the breadth to truly tell this story from their perspective. Special thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group and Deepa Anappara for advanced access to this book.
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  • Helen Power
    January 1, 1970
    Synopsis Set in Metropolitan India, this atmospheric novel follows Jai and his two friends as they search for their missing classmate. Obsessed with a police television show, Jai is convinced that he will be able to find the boy, even when the police themselves are indifferent about the case. As more and more children go missing, however, it becomes clear that there is something insidious going on, and Jai's life will be forever changed by the events that unfold... My Thoughts This book is Synopsis Set in Metropolitan India, this atmospheric novel follows Jai and his two friends as they search for their missing classmate.  Obsessed with a police television show, Jai is convinced that he will be able to find the boy, even when the police themselves are indifferent about the case. As more and more children go missing, however, it becomes clear that there is something insidious going on, and Jai's life will be forever changed by the events that unfold... My Thoughts This book is beautifully written. The words seem to leap off the page, creating a dynamic, three-dimensional image of metropolitan India. It felt like I was actually there.  The language, while beautiful, can be hard to follow at first, as Anappara uses many Indian words in casual conversation. While the meaning of the words can be discerned from context, I wish I'd noticed the glossary at the end of the e-book before reading the story.  That said, I don't think not knowing the exact meaning of words impacted my enjoyment of their use.The protagonist is a child named Jai, and his entire world is tinted by rose-coloured glasses. He has an innocent and naive perception of everything that goes on around him, which is demonstrated through both his observations and the prose.The book mostly comes from Jai's point of view, but we also get scenes from the missing children - their last memories before they disappear. This in itself is heartbreaking, particularly after reading the author's afterword.  180 children go missing every year in India, which is a shocking statistic that makes the words on these pages even more poignant.My favourite parts of this book were the parts where Jai's friend, Faiz, would state that the djinn were stealing the souls of the children. Brought up casually in conversation, I think this served several important purposes. It added a supernatural air of mystery to the story and it reinforced our perception of these children's innocence, but it also created a beautiful metaphor for the true malignant cause of the disappearances.This book is marketed as a mystery, but I disagree.  From the description on Goodreads, I'd gotten the impression that it was about a group of children searching for their lost friend, and that it would read similarly to Stranger Things or The Goonies. This isn't the case. Jai is compelled to search for the missing boy that he barely knew.  The story is not at all plot driven. It is primarily setting and character driven, and the focus isn't at all on his search. While his friends are three-dimensional characters in this story, I never got the feeling that they have an unbreakable bond and would go to the ends of the earth to find each other should one of them go missing.  The story itself doesn't carry with it a sense of hope that I prefer to see in coming of age stories. It's more of a harsh removal of the rose-coloured glasses, and we see the world for what it really is.  Gloomy.I recommend this book for someone wanting to get lost in the streets of Metropolitan India.  This is a coming of age story more than a mystery, and it delivers a powerful commentary on a true story, and how tragedy can shape an entire community. * Thank you to NetGalley and McClelland & Stewart for the arc to review! * This review appeared first on https://powerlibrarian.wordpress.com/ Instagram | Blog | Website | Twitter My 2020 Reading Challenge
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  • OutlawPoet
    January 1, 1970
    What you need to know about this book is…It’s going to break your heart.It starts out with the most innocent children on earth, living in a land of abject poverty and corruption. And despite all the evils of their world, these kids are just so funny and pure. And you think you’re going to get a story that’s a bit adventure, a bit coming of age, and a sprinkling of magic.But, oh, this gets dark and tragic. I wish it hadn’t. I completely understand why it does – I was just unprepared after the set What you need to know about this book is…It’s going to break your heart.It starts out with the most innocent children on earth, living in a land of abject poverty and corruption. And despite all the evils of their world, these kids are just so funny and pure. And you think you’re going to get a story that’s a bit adventure, a bit coming of age, and a sprinkling of magic.But, oh, this gets dark and tragic. I wish it hadn’t. I completely understand why it does – I was just unprepared after the set up to enter a world quite so real and horrifying.It’s a well written book and, I think, a necessary book. It just wasn’t what I expected.*ARC Provided via Net Galley
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  • Robert Blumenthal
    January 1, 1970
    This is a really excellent, though somewhat intense and heartbreaking debut novel. The author was a journalist in India for years and became aware of the rampant kidnapping of children that are later trafficked. Instead of writing an article about it, she chose to write a novel from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy. His name is Jai, and he is a wonderful guide through this very important story that is filled with the joy and optimism of a nine year old. Children start to disappear from This is a really excellent, though somewhat intense and heartbreaking debut novel. The author was a journalist in India for years and became aware of the rampant kidnapping of children that are later trafficked. Instead of writing an article about it, she chose to write a novel from the point of view of a nine-year-old boy. His name is Jai, and he is a wonderful guide through this very important story that is filled with the joy and optimism of a nine year old. Children start to disappear from his neighborhood, a slum in a large Indian city. He is obsessed with true crime stories, and he decided to become a detective, along with two of his friends, and try to solve the crimes.There are various issues explored by this wonderful author, one of the major ones being the prejudice shown to the Muslim people by Hindus in India. The first supposition of most of the Hindus is that the disappearances are done by Muslims to get back at Hindus. Even after two Muslim children are taken, the Muslims are still blamed for the crimes. There is also the issue of police and political corruption, and it is hard to know who to believe as the narrative moves along.The novel does have a somewhat lighthearted touch, kind of similar to Slumdog Millionaire. The realities can be hard to take, seeing that children are disappearing in India at an alarming rate. The author does not sugar coat this aspect of the tale, and I admit to a bit of a feeling of hopelessness when I finished. However, the depiction of Indian life (let it be known that there is a glossary at the end to help with the various Indian words and phrases) and the exceptionally well-drawn characters of the children help this to be a thrilling, very involving story about a devastating and very important subject.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Indian debut novelist Deepa Anappara is a refreshingly original and wonderfully unique read. In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners to find their missing classmate. . . Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Indian debut novelist Deepa Anappara is a refreshingly original and wonderfully unique read. In a sprawling Indian city, three friends venture into the most dangerous corners to find their missing classmate. . . Down market lanes crammed with too many people, dogs, and rickshaws, past stalls that smell of cardamom and sizzling oil, below a smoggy sky that doesn’t let through a single blade of sunlight, and all the way at the end of the Purple metro line lies a jumble of tin-roofed homes where nine-year-old Jai lives with his family. From his doorway, he can spot the glittering lights of the city’s fancy high-rises, and though his mother works as a maid in one, to him they seem a thousand miles away. Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line plunges readers deep into this neighborhood to trace the unfolding of a tragedy through the eyes of a child as he has his first perilous collisions with an unjust and complicated wider world. Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from TV to find him. He asks Pari and Faiz to be his assistants, and together they draw up lists of people to interview and places to visit. Drawing on real incidents and a spate of disappearances in metropolitan India, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is extraordinarily moving, flawlessly imagined, and a triumph of suspense. It captures the fierce warmth, resilience, and bravery that can emerge in times of trouble and carries the reader headlong into a community that, once encountered, is impossible to forget. The indifference of the police force regarding those missing broke my heart and highlighted just how deep the corruption runs. This is a witty and resonant debut and an introduction to a writer of enormous talent.Every now and again a book comes along that is impossible to ignore; this is one of them. Many thanks to Vintage for an ARC.
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  • Peter Boyle
    January 1, 1970
    This promising debut is narrated by Jai, a nine-year-old boy who lives in an Indian slum with his family. Their one-room house is located beside a rubbish dump, in an area smothered by smog, but they have learned to make the best of their situation. When his classmate Bahadur goes missing, Jai, an enthusiast of TV crime shows, decides to investigate. Enlisting the help of his friends, the hardworking Faiz and clever Pari, the trio try their best to solve the mystery. It becomes clear that a This promising debut is narrated by Jai, a nine-year-old boy who lives in an Indian slum with his family. Their one-room house is located beside a rubbish dump, in an area smothered by smog, but they have learned to make the best of their situation. When his classmate Bahadur goes missing, Jai, an enthusiast of TV crime shows, decides to investigate. Enlisting the help of his friends, the hardworking Faiz and clever Pari, the trio try their best to solve the mystery. It becomes clear that a corrupt police force will do nothing to help the people of the shantytowns. So Jai and his pals will have to do it all on their own. But then more children start to go missing and the evidence points to something far more sinister at play.I enjoyed the voice of Jai in this novel - he is an imaginative, mischievous child whose lighthearted innocence is slowly eroded by the malignant events in his neighborhood. The poverty and neglect suffered by the inhabitants of the slums all feels very authentic, and Deepa Anappara uses her journalist's eye for detail to bring an important story to light. However, I have to be honest - I did not find the plot all that compelling until the final quarter, when the disappearances have a more direct impact on the protagonists. That being said, I must commend the bravery of the ending. An encouraging effort from a writer with plenty of talent.
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  • Tzipora
    January 1, 1970
    I LOVED THIS BOOK!Nine year old Jai loves watching reality crime solving shows on TV and playing with his best friends Pari and Faiz in their crowded, impoverished basti at the end of the metro train purple line in India. When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to put his detective skills to the test, with Pari and Faiz as his assistants. Together they draw up a long list of people to interview and investigate and places to visit and surveil. But what starts as a game becomes something much I LOVED THIS BOOK!Nine year old Jai loves watching reality crime solving shows on TV and playing with his best friends Pari and Faiz in their crowded, impoverished basti at the end of the metro train purple line in India. When a classmate goes missing, Jai decides to put his detective skills to the test, with Pari and Faiz as his assistants. Together they draw up a long list of people to interview and investigate and places to visit and surveil. But what starts as a game becomes something much more sinister as more and more children disappear. With an indifferent police force, terrified parents, religious and cultural tensions, and the rumors of soul snatching djinns, Jai and his friends lives will never be the same again. It’s a difficult story based on the very real life fact that as many as 180 children go missing in India each day. The author was a reporter in India for more than a decade and found that if these disappearances made the news at all, the focus was on the perpetrators of the crimes, not the victims. So Anappara set out to interview the children in the poorest areas, many of them working as scavengers in junkyards or begging by the sides of the busy streets. She was struck by how cheeky, funny, playful, and smart these kids were, that they were anything but victims. And she wanted to tell their story and perhaps try to figure out- How does one live with uncertainty each day? How do you find hope when you are told there is none?I loved this book and found the writing with its vivid details of day to day life in an Indian slum and around the bustling marketplace to be absolutely transportive. I could smell the street food and sweets, feel the heaviness of breathing in the ever present smog that at times got so thick school was canceled for the children. While Jai and his friends are so young, I was able to see the world through their eyes, to watch what started as an adventure become something much more scary, to see the fear in their parents eyes and to try and head the warnings to stick together and come straight home after school but to also be buzzing with youthful energy and curiosity. It’s an incredibly rare talent to be able to write from a child’s point of view so well and Anappara does that here. This was by far the best book I’ve read in a long time and already one of my all time favorites. Highly, highly recommended! Add this one to the top of your TBR!
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  • Phyllida
    January 1, 1970
    In her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara examines the epidemic of missing children in India through the eyes of a naïve, TV-obsessed young boy living in the slums. When a boy from Jai’s school goes missing, he decides to use his detective skills learned from watching too many episodes of Police Patrol to find him.This was a book that confounded many of my expectations. Based on the premise of djinns in contemporary society, I was expecting a magical realist depiction In her debut novel, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, Deepa Anappara examines the epidemic of missing children in India through the eyes of a naïve, TV-obsessed young boy living in the slums. When a boy from Jai’s school goes missing, he decides to use his detective skills learned from watching too many episodes of Police Patrol to find him.This was a book that confounded many of my expectations. Based on the premise of djinns in contemporary society, I was expecting a magical realist depiction of life in India, in the vein of Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. In fact, Anappara’s terse, utilitarian style owes a lot more to true crime writing. This is perhaps to be expected, given her background as a journalist reporting on cases of disappeared children. While we’re occasionally reminded of the story’s supernatural elements, they jar somewhat with the central narrative, never quite fitting together.Anappara creates a rich cast of characters, each struggling to survive in the face of poverty, police corruption and religious conflict. Jai’s sister Runu, who has ambitions of becoming a star athlete, and his academically gifted friend Pari chafe against the limitations placed on women in their society. While the women are the emotional heart of the novel, they feel oddly de-centred.The novel is structured around the events of each disappearance, written from the victim’s perspective, but focuses on the ‘everyman’ protagonist Jai, in many ways the least interesting character. His limited perspective and lack of understanding give the novel a frustratingly narrow view of the world it depicts. I would have loved to see a more in-depth exploration of the other characters’ inner lives and everyday experiences. While the tagline reads, “This story is a talisman. Hold it close to your hearts,” the novel never quite delivers on this idea of the redemptive power of storytelling, instead falling into a sadly realistic but narratively unsatisfying conclusion. As many as 180 children go missing in India every day, and despite its imperfections, Djinn Patrol will hopefully bring much needed international attention to this issue.Review copy provided by the publisher in return for an honest review
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  • Jo
    January 1, 1970
    I was sent this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nine year old Jai is obsessed with reality crime shows and detectives. When one of his classmates goes missing, he ropes his friends Pari and Faiz in to help look for the boy. When others start to disappear, finding out what happened becomes the most important thing in Jai's life. Child narrators can be difficult to capture in print and can often annoy the reader but the author manages to convey Jai's childlike innocence combined I was sent this by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Nine year old Jai is obsessed with reality crime shows and detectives. When one of his classmates goes missing, he ropes his friends Pari and Faiz in to help look for the boy. When others start to disappear, finding out what happened becomes the most important thing in Jai's life. Child narrators can be difficult to capture in print and can often annoy the reader but the author manages to convey Jai's childlike innocence combined with a worldview that can only come from living in poverty. Jai is a likeable character and his casual mentions of things like people dying from diseases, debt issues, etc, in a matter of fact fashion show how prevalent things like this are in his part of the community. The novel is a vivid depiction of life in an Indian slum with corrupt police and nobody batting an eyelid when children are being exploited. The families of those missing struggle to have their voices heard and the reader finds their hearts going out to them because their pain leaps out from the page. The author was inspired to write this novel to raise awareness of how many Indian children go missing every day and this is certainly thought-provoking. The writing draws you in and the story keeps you reading as you hope beyond all hope for a happy ending.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This book is fairly interesting: set in modern India, three children begin investigating the disappearance of their classmate. We learn that 180 children go missing in India everyday--which is probably one of the most horrifying statistics I've ever learned. I ended up googling more about it...and it's just really awful. I've definitely never read a book set in India, written by an Indian author, An ARC was provided to me for free by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.This book is fairly interesting: set in modern India, three children begin investigating the disappearance of their classmate. We learn that 180 children go missing in India everyday--which is probably one of the most horrifying statistics I've ever learned. I ended up googling more about it...and it's just really awful. I've definitely never read a book set in India, written by an Indian author, so I'm glad these diverse narratives are becoming more available and accessible. This book is also shedding light on an awful social reality for Indian children, mixed with the mythology of djinn. Of course, I really can't tell how realistic the portrayal of Indian life is in story, given that my own knowledge of life in India is incredibly limited.However, I did find it difficult to get into the story. I felt like there was no real atmosphere or grounding; there were hints of ethnic/religious prejudice between Muslims and Hindus, and we're told there are mobile phones, but I was otherwise not sure how everything was working together in society. I think solidifying the setting--the cultural, religious, ethnic, political issues in a place as diverse as India--would have helped keep me grounded in the story as a reader being introduced to a new place. The writing did feel a bit weak: it was very dialogue-heavy and it took me a while to realize the narrator was only nine years old. Young narrators can sometimes be interesting in their unique, innocent perspectives. However, I'm not necessarily sure it added anything special here.Overall, I think it's an interesting premise exploring a real issue. That said, I'm not sure the execution was quite there. Sadly, a pass for me.Blog | Twitter
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  • Judy
    January 1, 1970
    I found Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line to be an absolute page turner. I was a bit confused in the beginning with the structure, but after a couple of chapters I was hooked.. If you read much Indian literature, you may not learn much, but this is a new twist on structure and the writing is excellent. Each of the three sections starts with a "chapter" titled This Story Will Save Your LIfe. I would describe these as folklore and are probably my favorite sections. Each child who disappears has a I found Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line to be an absolute page turner. I was a bit confused in the beginning with the structure, but after a couple of chapters I was hooked.. If you read much Indian literature, you may not learn much, but this is a new twist on structure and the writing is excellent. Each of the three sections starts with a "chapter" titled This Story Will Save Your LIfe. I would describe these as folklore and are probably my favorite sections. Each child who disappears has a chapter that describes the action leading up to their disappearance. The rest of the story is told by Jai a nine year old boy who lives with his 12 year old sister and parents in a basti (slum), but they are not the poorest of the poor. I thought the descriptions of their slum life were very evocative. All the characters were well-drawn and easy to keep separate. I would not hestitate to recommend this book to anyone. I want to thank the publisher and Net Galley for giving me an ARC to read and review.
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  • Andy Weston
    January 1, 1970
    9 year old Jai lives in a sprawling slum in an unnamed city in India, in the shadow of the luxury apartments in which his mother works. A classmate vanishes and young Jai is presented with an opportunity to practice his ‘detectiving’ skills that he has gathered from TV shows. As the weeks go by more children disappear and despite the protestations of the residents the police do nothing. As much as it may seem like a whodunnit type novel with an unusual detector, it isn’t, it turns unexpected 9 year old Jai lives in a sprawling slum in an unnamed city in India, in the shadow of the luxury apartments in which his mother works. A classmate vanishes and young Jai is presented with an opportunity to practice his ‘detectiving’ skills that he has gathered from TV shows. As the weeks go by more children disappear and despite the protestations of the residents the police do nothing. As much as it may seem like a whodunnit type novel with an unusual detector, it isn’t, it turns unexpected corners and defies categorisation. What began as a YA mystery becomes an unflinching urban noir. In her afterword Anappara (previously a journalist in Mumbai and Delhi) explains why she wrote with such a style; her real aim being to provide the reader with as real a slice of the life in the slum as possible, and to highlight the problems modern day Indian cities have. She certainly succeeds. I for one was deceived at first, after the initial chapters stepping my reading pace up and envisaging a routine YA , which it absolutely isn’t.
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  • Joe Kraus
    January 1, 1970
    I picked this one up on the day of its release because The New York Times Review of Book was glowing over it and because Ian McEwan among others was singing its praises. That was a kind of experiment for me since I’m not usually an early adopter. I wanted to see if I shared that reaction right out of the gate.I’m sorry for that hype because, while there is a lot I admire here, I don’t think it rises to the level of your typical McEwan. It’s a striking book with a look at world most of us never I picked this one up on the day of its release because The New York Times Review of Book was glowing over it and because Ian McEwan among others was singing its praises. That was a kind of experiment for me since I’m not usually an early adopter. I wanted to see if I shared that reaction right out of the gate.I’m sorry for that hype because, while there is a lot I admire here, I don’t think it rises to the level of your typical McEwan. It’s a striking book with a look at world most of us never see. I admire it for giving voice to protagonists who have some dignity, and I enjoy its setting. But, I think it blinks at the end and undermines some of its strong premise in the way it presents multiple narrators to limited effect.Our main characters here are all children in the slums of India. A couple are so poor that they live in the railway station stealing and getting by on their wits. Our central character, Jai, is somewhat better off; his parents care for him, and he has the relative luxury of going to school and watching TV. In fact, Jai watches so much TV that, when first one and then another of the children in his neighborhood go missing, he determines he will find them like the detectives he knows from his shows. He recruits a pair of his friends, wins the friendship of a stray dog, and tries to piece the larger clues together. Jai’s voice and perspective are, for me, the star of what’s happening here. This is postcolonial in both its perspective and its early structure.The climax of the first part of this comes when Jai and his young friends steal a little money and take the newly built (in part by his father) purple line of the city’s rail system. It feels a lot like Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time in the way our protagonist ventures on a great adventure that is also the everyday stuff of others’ commute. That postcolonial reworking is effective as a structural ploy – a refiguring of Western culture in something of the classic example of the way steel drums came from reworked surplus and supplies – and the boys’ adventure is powerful. It’s also powerful in the way we see the world through the eyes of characters who are shaped by forces so out of their control. As an Indian in a nation that has much of its economy shaped by powers abroad (at least one character takes classes with an aspiration to work for an American call center), as a lower-class resident of a community that the area wealthy routinely threaten to tear down, and above all as a child, Jai can never forget his powerlessness.Anappara’s greatest success here is in refusing to see these children as acted upon. They have agency, and they really do conceive of themselves as detectives with the power to solve this crime.All that said, [SPOILER ALERT:] I think this loses some of its edge when, at the end, we learn that instead of inchoate, international powers that cost this community its children, there is a real serial killer. Jai even has a hand in uncovering him when, though the corrupt police try to stop him, he is among the first to storm into the house where they find the incriminating evidence. I find that move a betrayal of the larger sense of the people of this community as victimized by a global economy indifferent to the price the poorest of the world have to pay.Further [SPOILER ALERT:]. I’m also frustrated by the seemingly gratuitous plot twist that Jai’s sister, angry that her father has struck her, decides to run away in the midst of the childnapping crisis. As a result, she seems to be another victim, one never recovered or accounted for, and the price her parents pay is extreme. The action simply doesn’t feel authentic to me. Before her decision, she seems to have the same pluck as Jai. After, she seems sullen and unnecessarily cruel.On balance, I do see a lot to appreciate. It’s good to hear so striking a voice and to be brought to a world of such poverty. It’s not McEwan, though, and I don’t think it’s even extraordinary by the standards of current releases. Again, maybe I’d be more inclined toward it if I didn’t walk in expecting a masterpiece.
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  • Nur Ben-Hamida
    January 1, 1970
    Who cares about a missing child from the slums of India? Another child. I went into this book with some trepidation, the yells of poverty porn made me very uncomfortable. But I wanted to form my own opinions. And I’m so glad I did! This is how you write a novel about situations that are HAPPENING DAILY. This is not fantasy and don’t be mistaken by the title. Its not fantasy or magic realism. It is about human lives. The narrator is a little nine year old boy (Jai) who is precocious, delightful Who cares about a missing child from the slums of India? Another child. I went into this book with some trepidation, the yells of poverty porn made me very uncomfortable. But I wanted to form my own opinions. And I’m so glad I did! This is how you write a novel about situations that are HAPPENING DAILY. This is not fantasy and don’t be mistaken by the title. Its not fantasy or magic realism. It is about human lives. The narrator is a little nine year old boy (Jai) who is precocious, delightful and occasionally heartbreaking. His insight into the world around him is crushing at times, especially when you’re reading from the safety of the commute to and from work. There’s moments that are joyous, and the. Suddenly small short phrases that then knock you for six. Is there anything more heartbreaking than children suffering and trying to make sense of that suffering? I hope people read this book, we should already be compassionate, but the author tried and succeeded to give a voice to voiceless children in a very real epidemic of child abductions and murders that are prevalent in India.I spent the whole time reading HOPING, nay, PRAYING for a happy ending. And I never get that feeling usually, I was left bitterly upset but the reality of this book hit me. This is not poverty porn. This is a call to look past what we see on tv, to look past our own assumptions, to remember the people. Also, kudos to the editor of this author for leaving words and phrases untranslated and Un-italicised. This story was unapologetic in its culture, the authors culture and language, the narrators reality. This is a big thing in literature and it’s groundbreaking. It made me so happy to see. This did what slumdog millionaire tried and failed to do.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Jai is nine years old and lives with his family in the slums of New Delhi. He loves watching reality cop shows, especially Police Patrol (presumably a fictionalised version of Crime Patrol), waits hungrily for his mother to bring back special food from her job as a maid in one of the ‘hi-fi’ flats of the city, and is watched over by his older sister, Runu, who dreams of becoming a successful runner and winning a sports scholarship that will allow her to escape. When children start disappearing Jai is nine years old and lives with his family in the slums of New Delhi. He loves watching reality cop shows, especially Police Patrol (presumably a fictionalised version of Crime Patrol), waits hungrily for his mother to bring back special food from her job as a maid in one of the ‘hi-fi’ flats of the city, and is watched over by his older sister, Runu, who dreams of becoming a successful runner and winning a sports scholarship that will allow her to escape. When children start disappearing from Jai’s basti, he forms a detective gang with his two best friends, Pari and Faiz, and they determine to find out what is happening. Their investigations take them onto the Metro’s Purple Line, into a part of the city they have never been before. Jai is convinced that there may be something supernatural at work, and that the children may have been snatched by the hungry djinns that are said to hunt at night. Framed by the fact that around 180 children in India go missing every day (although this article [https://www.thehindu.com/society/indi...] explains that the reasons behind this statistic are complex, and not all of these children are abducted), this debut novel is unafraid to highlight the limited interest from the Indian media in the fate of poor kids and to go to some very dark places. Indeed, I found this one of the most upsetting things I have read for some time.[You can read the rest of my review on my blog: https://drlauratisdall.wordpress.com/...] 3.5 stars. I received a free proof copy of this novel from the publisher for review.
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  • Catalina
    January 1, 1970
    A tender, heartwarming novel yet a harrowing read! A dichotomy, I know, but nonetheless true. Anappara talks about the harsh reality of poor Indian families living in slums, the corruption of governmental institutions(I really liked this hilarious yet evocative phrase describing the police: The letters P and O are missing from the Keep's side, so it reads LICE), the high rate of child abductions, illicit rings involved in child smuggling; social constrains especially for girls/women etc through A tender, heartwarming novel yet a harrowing read! A dichotomy, I know, but nonetheless true. Anappara talks about the harsh reality of poor Indian families living in slums, the corruption of governmental institutions(I really liked this hilarious yet evocative phrase describing the police: The letters P and O are missing from the Keep's side, so it reads LICE), the high rate of child abductions, illicit rings involved in child smuggling; social constrains especially for girls/women etc through the eyes of a group a children. I don't know about others, but I really love the world of children. I love how they see the world, how the explain to themselves what is going on around them, sometime in unexpected ways that fill you with wonder. In the afterword, the author mentions the interviews with children she conducted and how despite their hard life they don't see themselves like victims, but rather "cheeky and funny and often impatient in the face of my questions", hilarious, sarcastic, full of energy. And while she thinks she failed to transmit all that in her journalistic articles, I believe she did a wonderful job here. I was completely won over by Jay and Pari and Faiz. I adored their desire to solve everything. How they did everything in their power to find the child snatcher either human or mystical being. How they overcome their fears, and all the obstacles they encountered in their quest. How they navigated human relationships, friendship, loss and grief. Then I see the star again. I point it out to Samosa. I tell him it's a secret signal, from Runu-Didi to me. It's so powerful, it can fire past the thickets of clouds and smog and even the walls that Ma's gods have put up to separate one world from the next.*Book from NetGalley with thanks to the publisher
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  • Fanna
    January 1, 1970
    - based on a real incident- set in an Northern-India slum- POC & SA representation- strong themes like Hindu-Muslim conflict & pollution- award-winning debut novel
  • Alyssia Cooke
    January 1, 1970
    Whilst the beginning of this really caught me with the story of Mental and how his ghost continues to help those street boys in need of him, once the main tale got going I found myself plodding along with no real purpose. I'd say the strongest aspects of this novel are the beginning and the end, but the middle seems to lose pace or direction, instead relying on lots of repetition and drawn out scenes of a child playing detective. The best scenes tended to be the shorter ones from the Whilst the beginning of this really caught me with the story of Mental and how his ghost continues to help those street boys in need of him, once the main tale got going I found myself plodding along with no real purpose. I'd say the strongest aspects of this novel are the beginning and the end, but the middle seems to lose pace or direction, instead relying on lots of repetition and drawn out scenes of a child playing detective. The best scenes tended to be the shorter ones from the perspectives of the victims, telling their final moments and bringing you into their lifes. Some of these draw you vividly into the world and the challenges faced by various different groups individuals. I also enjoyed the chapters focused on the tales of the djinn and some of the folklore and stories surrounding them, but these were used as interludes rather than bringing anything to the actual plot.I think the topic Deepa Anappara is making here is one of great importance; the number of children who go missing in India, either stolen, lost or dead, she highlights in the authors postscript is harrowing - 180 a day - and the cultural setting certainly makes this stand out from the majority of kidnapped children novels which tend to be based in Europe or America. One thing I did find difficult however was the number of Indian words and phrases throughout the novel with no explanation or even a basic glossary to look things up. I found myself confused by relationships and some of the dialogue, drawing me out of the story as I tried to put things together. I have no objection to use of cultural terms, references or phrases - in fact it would make it more realistic if I could understand them - but if you are trying to appeal to a mass audience, there needs to be something to allow the average reader to pick up on the terminology being used and there wasn't.In terms of the actual main narrative though, much of the middle section is superfluous and repetitive, particularly when the kids are running around trying to find 'clues'. I found the main character, nine year old Jai, irritating and naive; often asking exactly the questions that are going to rile people up. I get that he's nine, but the self-absorbed and over confident attitude got my my nerves very quickly indeed - he's so keen on being a child detective and yet half the time won't listen to his friend Pari who is notably more intelligent than him... and more tactful. Maybe his reckless and bull in a china shop attitude might have worked for child readers, but this is not a children's book. Whilst the child narrator added an air of innocence, I can't help but thinking that the entire thing would either have been better off from Pari's perspective who is that little bit more mature. It would also have allowed for the dialogue on how women are treated and expected to behave to be expanded, as what Annapara does write on this is very interesting.I had also expected this to have more of a focus on the railway children of India, but other than the introduction and a scene somewhere around mid-novel, there is virtually no mention of them which is a shame. It's seems an opportunity lost, particularly considering the theme of missing children. A closer exploration of this may have resolved some of the books issues; in particular it's repetitive nature and plodding plot could have been revitalised by the inclusion of something like this.Either way, I think there's certainly potential here and some of the writing and descriptions are wonderful. I just don't think it was executed as well as it could have been perhaps. It either needed more of a sense of threat - which is difficult when the lead character is treating it all a bit like a game - or it needed more content in the middle and perhaps a less irritating primary character. I'd have loved to see more about djinns written into the actual story instead of serving solely as interludes with little connection to what is going on and likewise, the perspective from the victims are one of the strongest points here and show a variety of views of India, rather than one naive, little boy who thinks he's better than everyone else. These could have been expanded and again, it would have made for a far more fascinating read.Many thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for my free ARC copy of this book.
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  • Sakina (aforestofbooks)
    January 1, 1970
    The WritingI did read the arc version, so while the format wasn’t that great, I was completely taken with the writing style.I’ll admit, at first I found the use of Hindi words in the actual dialogue and narrative to be a bit jarring and weird. But then it hit me the reason why. It just felt so real. They were words I understood, words that I’ve used myself, words I’ve heard my mom use a lot at home (how many times has she called my brother a goonda lol). It felt like home. And I hadn’t expected The WritingI did read the arc version, so while the format wasn’t that great, I was completely taken with the writing style.I’ll admit, at first I found the use of Hindi words in the actual dialogue and narrative to be a bit jarring and weird. But then it hit me the reason why. It just felt so real. They were words I understood, words that I’ve used myself, words I’ve heard my mom use a lot at home (how many times has she called my brother a goonda lol). It felt like home. And I hadn’t expected to feel that way.The writing style is also pretty unique. The book reads like a middle-grade book. Our main character Jai, is nine years old, and unlike a lot of middle-grade books I’ve read, where the main character’s dialogue and inner monologue are written in a way where you would think the character is much older than they actually are, this book doesn’t do that. It captures Jai’s naivety and innocence and confusion so well, that I had to stop in the middle of reading and think “Wow, I’ve never seen a book written this way, but it’s perfect and realistic and how books should be written.”Considering the writing style, the Hindi phrases and words used made complete sense and really fit with the main character. I laughed out loud so many times, especially the scene where Jai says “Papa, ma is doing drama-baazi again.”If you’re reading this review and are Indian or Pakistani, or just know Hindi, you will love this book, I promise! The lighter moments are just so heartwarming, and the descriptions of food and chai are mouthwatering, and just the culture and day-to-day aspects of life are things we’ve either experienced or heard stories from our parents and grandparents.Culture and Religious CommentaryI wanted to talk about this for a bit because it was really well done and it just fits so well with what is currently happening in India right now.The basti that Jai lives in is predominantly Hindu (though Jai’s friend Faiz, a Muslim, does live there too), but the Bhoot Bazaar and surrounding area have a lot of Muslims. Seeing the tensions between the two escalate as the story unfolds was difficult to read about, but also felt so real and current.I loved the way Deepa did this. We get to see how stories travel, and how they’re changed and embellished as they’re passed from person to person. How gossip and rumours take what was originally the truth and turn it into something dark and ugly.We see this done really well when another girl from the nearby area disappears. People start saying that Chandni was a prostitute and worked at a brothel and that she fell in love with some old Muslim man, or that she was working at a brothel because her father was awful and of course she disappeared and was dead because what would you expect from someone like that, and on and on. Her story, her life, was twisted because of people who either didn’t know better or just came up with their own conclusions. When we actually get to read from Chandni’s POV, we realize how different things were. But because of that rumour that was started, many Hindus started blaming Muslims, saying one of them had taken Chandni, and that they must also be behind the other kidnappings. It let to attacks and arrests. Muslims were scared to leave their homes for work and school. Many of the basti parents didn’t want their children interacting with Muslims. There were retaliations and the blame just went around and around. Even when two Muslim children disappeared, it was assumed that whichever Muslim who had kidnapped the others, must have kidnapped one of their own to curb suspicions. Muslims also became wary around the Hindus and at the end of the book we see many Muslim families who lived in Jai’s basti, moving to a Muslim one where they felt safer.I found the cultural aspects to be especially well done too.Life is hard for these kids. They live mostly in poverty, with not a lot of food, no running water. Their home life is awful. Many girls stay at home instead of going to school to take care of their younger brothers and sisters. Those who do go don’t have access to quality education. Many kids have to skip class in order to help out their family when times are difficult. A lot of kids work after school or on the weekends. And then you have the abuse that many of these kids face at home, the awareness that life isn’t like this for everyone, and the longing that maybe they could get out of this situation and become something more. We see in these POVs how badly these kids want better lives. Bahadur doesn’t want to have to sleep on the streets when his mom works late because he’s scared of his alcoholic father. Omvir doesn’t want to spend the rest of his life pressing clothes like his father. Chandni wants to learn English and get a better job, and she doesn’t want people to see her only for her beauty. Kabir and Khadifa have their own dreams. And yes, some of these dreams might be childish, like Omvir wanting to become a famous dancer. But they are kids, and you realize by reading their POVs how young and innocent their hopes are, yet they do still hope.The girls’ POVS really stuck out to me. Chandni getting harassed by men wherever she goes because of how she looks and dresses, the rumours people come up with that she has to endure, the hard work she puts in to better herself. We see Khadifa being scared that if her brother continues acting out and her parents finally notice, she’ll be sent off to her grandparents’ village with her brother and be married off at 14, when all she wants to do is enjoy her childhood and have fun dressing up with her friends. We see another POV where a girl struggles with wanting to pursue her dream, but knowing that no one really supports her and how they’re just waiting for her to finally become like other girls and eventually get married. She hates seeing her body go through changes because she wishes she were a boy and had a lot more freedom. It’s just so sad, but a reality for so many people, especially girls, and it’s not just limited to one religion or culture, it happens to everyone.Our “Detectiving” TrioI loved, loved, loved our main trio so much. I definitely got some Harry, Ron and Hermione vibes from them too lolWe have Jai, of course, our main character. His Hindu friend Pari, and his Muslim friend Faiz.I think my favourite part was their friendship and how they teased each other and helped each other through difficult times. When the other Hindus started blaming Muslims for the kidnappings, Jai and Pari didn’t turn their backs on Faiz, but stuck by his side. Jai even thinks multiple times how it doesn’t make sense that everyone is blaming Muslims for being awful, just like you can’t blame all Hindus if an actual Hindu is kidnapping the children. That moment there made my heart hurt. Children are so innocent and open-minded. They don’t always cling onto prejudices that they see their parents or family or friends preaching. They look at their experiences and judge appropriately.I absolutely loved Pari. She gave me major Hermione vibes, but less bossy and annoying. She’s so intelligent and sharp, and I adored the moments when Jai was like “That was a good question to ask, why didn’t I come up with that?” or when he goes “Ugh, why is Pari so good and smart, why can’t I be that way?” It made me laugh cause it’s so cute. Pari loves to read and cares so much about school and going further with her education. That’s most of the reason why she reminded me of Hermione, plus her dynamic with the other boys and her constantly fighting with Faiz reminded me of Hermione and Ron fighting all the time. She’s also so friendly and makes friends with everyone, and she’s kind and caring, and tries to do the right thing. She’s all round a loveable character.The Ending*THIS MIGHT BE SPOILERY SO BEWARE*I will say that this book starts off in a lighthearted way. Yes, we see a boy in the basti has disappeared, but as Jai and his friends start looking for clues and “detectiving” (as they call it), there’s this sense of hope I got that eventually they’d find something or someone would be able to solve the mystery and we’d get a relatively happy ending. But as more and more kids disappear, we start to see how Jai and Pari and Faiz aren’t really getting anywhere with this mystery, and it makes sense when you think about it. In reality, you can’t expect a bunch of nine-year-olds to solve something this big and complex. But they’re children and their innocence really shows. The police are useless as we see. The pradhan doesn’t seem to care either, until things get really bad at the end, and even then he’s more self-obsessed than anything. There’s no one to help them, so they take it upon themselves. Jai uses his “knowledge” from watching Police Patrol and other crime shows, Pari uses her intellect, and Faiz joins along on their hunt through the alleys and corners of Bhoot Bazaar.Seeing how useless the police is really hit me because it’s something I’ve constantly heard from my parents when they talk about Pakistan. Seeing the bribes the parents of the missing kids gave the policemen and nothing come out of it was maddening. No one cared cause these kids are poor, they live in the “slums”, and the upper-class people think they’re a waste of space anyway. So why spend time and money and energy finding them? The police argued that the kids probably ran away as they do and decided to live on the streets but that they’d be back eventually. But months go by and there’s nothing. Everything the police does, all the supposed paperwork etc. takes forever or doesn’t actually occur. It’s frustrating, and this book really showed how messed up the system is.The last quarter of the book, it really started to hit me where this book was going. The POVs we get of the kidnapped children made me think maybe, maybe, there was hope that they were somewhere safe. The djinn aspect of this book, though not as huge of a role in the story as I was expecting, made me think maybe a friendly djinn was taking care of them. Or that there was an evil djinn and the trio would fight him somehow lol. But in reality these evil djinn are just evil people. When we finally get to see what happened I was shocked and horrified. I was somewhat expecting it, but even after that I still thought that things would be okay, that some of the kids would be found alive and safe. But they aren’t. And that’s the reality. The author states how 180 kids in India disappear everyday due to child-trafficking, slave labour, etc. It’s awful to think about.The ending was honestly really sad and heartbreaking. We see how certain cycles repeat themselves as Jai’s parents break down in their grief. Even Jai himself feels alone and isolated as his friends move away to a different school and basti. He only has his dog, Samosa, and the voice of his sister following him around. It makes you think and wonder what’ll happen next and if they’ll ever have the answers to their questions, and whether the victims will get the justice they deserve.One thing that stuck out to me was this quote from Jai:”I’ll never watch Police Patrol again. When they act out real stories of people getting snatched or killed, it will feel as if someone is trying to strangle me, I just know it. A murder isn’t a story for me anymore; it’s not a mystery either.”I think this summarizes why I find it so hard to listen to stories of people disappearing and getting killed. Because they are true stories that happened to actual people. The pain that they must have gone through, the nightmares their family must have had during and since, it’s just all so real and it’s hard for me to see what happened as a story, dramatized.Overall, this book gets 4.5/5 stars from me. Highly, highly recommend. It is a difficult read, but I think it’s quite worth it, and it highlights important issues that are overlooked and we should be aware of.
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  • MisterHobgoblin
    January 1, 1970
    Jai is nine years old. He lives in a slum in the shadow of high rise (hi fi) apartments in an unnamed Indian city. He goes to school; his family has food on the table; he is addicted to crime documentaries on TV. He is on the cusp of leaving childhood as he has an emergent adult awareness of the perils and opportunities around him. So when an unloved classmate goes missing, Jai rounds up a posse of friends and embarks on detective work to try to trace him. Gradually more children disappear, but Jai is nine years old. He lives in a slum in the shadow of high rise (hi fi) apartments in an unnamed Indian city. He goes to school; his family has food on the table; he is addicted to crime documentaries on TV. He is on the cusp of leaving childhood as he has an emergent adult awareness of the perils and opportunities around him. So when an unloved classmate goes missing, Jai rounds up a posse of friends and embarks on detective work to try to trace him. Gradually more children disappear, but still the police aren't interested - what are poor lives worth anyway? Jai is mostly used as a witness to report on life in the slums. He provides a lens through which to see the emergent middle class and the way they suck the oxygen away from those still living in poverty. He shows the slums as a world with its own commerce, its own rules - one that defines its identity from the purple metro line on which its residents cannot afford to travel. People in the slums still have ambitions and aspirations of one day joining these middle classes. And needless to say, Jai is not a great detective. This is not The Red Hand Gang or Scooby Doo. Kids with no money and no influence do not unmask villains through finding clues. But their dogged determination can eventually stir the authorities from their torpor.Purple Line is a very bleak novel and it is clear from the outset that for most of the families - for most of the disappeared kids - this is not going to have a happy ending. Rather, they each offer a different story, a different facet of life in the neighbourhood. Despite the context, and despite the poverty, most of the stories involved playing and laughter. But always with the spectre of child abduction lurking in the background. As well as the characters, a key strength of the novel is the sense of place. Whether in the residential area, the bazaar or in the city station, the writing transports the reader to a real and immersive world. This is all the more impressive as the city is clearly an amalgam of different cities and locations throughout India. This is not a quick or easy read. It is very rich and dense; there are details that are important but easy to miss - I found myself constantly having to flick back a few pages. Perhaps also the overall lack of plot development can make the middle section feel a bit slow - and inevitably some stories appeal more than others. When the ending comes - and eventually it does - the pace picks up and it becomes much harder to set the book down. This is a worthwhile novel that, like some other recent works from Commonwealth countries, deals with poverty in a modern world that interfaces with mod-cons and mass-communication. It's not a misery novel. In her Afterword, Deepa Anappara explains that she did not want to portray the kids and their families as Victims (with a capital V), but instead to represent the vitality, humour, schemes and scams she found in her encounters with kids in impoverished circumstances. Together, of course, with the lack of basic security that India's poor face on a daily basis; the threat of physical harm on the one hand and the threat of bulldozers on the other.
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  • Vivienne
    January 1, 1970
    My thanks to Random House U.K. Vintage Publishing/Chatto & Windus for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ by Deepa Anappara in exchange for an honest review. This is her debut novel and was published on 30 January. “Three weeks ago I was only a schoolkid but now I’m a detective and also a tea-shop boy…”In a shantytown (basti) in an unnamed Indian city, nine-year-old Jai lives with his parents and older sister. Jai attends school and hangs out with his friends. He is My thanks to Random House U.K. Vintage Publishing/Chatto & Windus for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line’ by Deepa Anappara in exchange for an honest review. This is her debut novel and was published on 30 January. “Three weeks ago I was only a schoolkid but now I’m a detective and also a tea-shop boy…”In a shantytown (basti) in an unnamed Indian city, nine-year-old Jai lives with his parents and older sister. Jai attends school and hangs out with his friends. He is obsessed with the true crime reality show, Police Patrol.When one of his classmates goes missing, Jai decides to use the crime-solving skills he has picked up from the show to find him. Along with his friends Pari and Faiz, Jai ventures into some of the most dangerous parts of the city including the bazaar at night and the railway station at the end of the Purple Line. As further children disappear from the neighbourhood the group wonders if one or more djinns might be responsible (hence the title). Parents in the district are terrified and the police appear indifferent. The novel builds to a confrontation as the community seeks to assign blame.Jai is the main narrator in this powerful coming-of-age novel though there is the occasional aside including from the children who have vanished just before something happens to them. This increases the tension while preserving the mystery.I found this a deeply moving story, both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It started off with quite a comic feel as Jai and his ragtag gang seek answers and takes a darker turn by its closing chapters.The Author’s Afterword states her background as a journalist reporting on poverty and religious violence in India. She relates the real world social issues linked to the disappearance of these children. It makes for sobering reading. She provided a list of her sources and also notes various organisations working for the welfare of India’s children.This novel’s quirky title had initially attracted me though I became aware recently that It had generated quite a lot of prepublication buzz. I certainly feel that it is warranted. I would hope to see it recognised by this year’s literary prizes.An important novel that is also a very engaging read. Highly recommended.
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  • Ryan Brunner
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this debut novel very much. Set in India, it's a fictionalized telling of an epidemic of disappeared children against a backdrop of extreme poverty, oppressive pollution, police incompetence, and Islamophobia, told from the point of view of a nine year old boy who fashions himself like the detectives he watches on television. It's serious stuff but written in an innocent voice that makes it almost magical.
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