Cover Image: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

In India, children keep disappearing; but as is so often true, a missing child from a poor family doesn’t excite a great deal of interest on the part of authorities. But never fear; Jai has been watching Police Patrol, so although he’s just nine years old, he can take care of this business. He’s already got a key advantage over the government and its police force: Jai actually cares. 

I read this novel free and early, though my review is disgracefully late. My thanks go to Net Galley and Random House. This book is for sale now. 

Anaparra immerses us in the culture of urban India and incorporates two aspects of social justice that cry out to be recognized. By using the voices of children, she tells the story naturally and without preaching. Hundreds of children disappear daily in India. Daily. That’s a lot of milk cartons. Most of these children are never found. So when Jai’s classmate goes missing, there’s consternation, because everyone knows how unlikely it is that he’ll be brought home. There’s discussion among the adults. The boy’s mother wants to hound the authorities, not let up until they find her son; but the neighbors don’t want her to do it, because everyone knows that when you irritate the police, bulldozers will appear and demolish everyone’s house. So if their neighborhood is razed without warning, they figure it will be her fault. 


So kids, we’re not in Kansas anymore. It’s a sobering wakeup call, looking at life from the viewpoint of the lower castes of India. 

Jai is just nine, though, and when you’re nine, all things are possible. He is sure he can find his friend, if he can just afford the train fare to get further into the city, where his pal was last seen. His family never has much money, but his mother keeps what spare change she has in a kitchen pot, and as it adds up, it is reserved for emergencies—such as bulldozers. She knows that they could lose everything in a heartbeat, and she does what little she can to mitigate such a disaster. And bless his heart, little Jai sneaks into the kitchen and steals his mother’s bug-out fund so that he can take the Purple Line into town to play detective. He figures he can pay her back when he collects the reward money. 

This story is a meal. There are a lot of unfamiliar terms, and they aren’t explained to us. We have to figure them out through context. This keeps the plot from bogging down, and that’s good, because it’s not moving terribly fast to begin with. But for those that like a nice whodunit to read as they drowse off to sleep in the evening, this isn’t that book. This is literature. Don’t try to absorb it after you’ve had a few beers or taken your sleeping pill. You need your full brain. 

The other social justice topic, secondary to the missing children yet also important, is that of how India treats its girls and women, and once again, those in the lower castes are slammed by poverty and class bias as well as sexism. Jai’s sister Didi is gifted academically and athletically. She holds far more promise than her squirrely little brother, who is just your average kid, but her needs are always subordinate to his. Didi wants to run track and go to university, but her parents want her home, watching over Jai while they’re at work. They’re afraid (and not needlessly) that he’ll get into trouble. They are so concerned about what might happen to their darling boy that they don’t think twice about Didi. She’s sick of being leered at by the horny old men that sell vegetables, and she’s sick of the contemptuous gazes of shop women. And now, she, the star of the track team, must miss a critical meet so she can babysit: 

“It was as if she existed solely to care for her brother, and the house. Afterward, she would similarly look after her husband, her hands smelling of cow-dung cakes. Her own dreams were inconsequential. It seemed to her that no one could see the ambition that thrummed in her; no one imagined her becoming someone.” 

I used a combination of the digital galley on my Kindle and the audio book I checked out from Seattle Bibliocommons to get through this book. Sometimes I used them simultaneously. The voice actors have Indian accents that add authenticity; at the same time, I sometimes missed that we had shifted from a male character’s inner narrative to that of a female, and I became confused and had to go back. Again, this story is not for wusses. And yet, it’s worth it. It's a remarkable debut, and  if you’ve read this whole review, you’re the type of person that can get through this book, and I recommend it to you. You won’t find anything else like it.
Was this review helpful?
Deepa Anappara's debut novel Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is a captivating book. With a fresh narrative perspective, the writer tells a fictional story, based on real-life events, of child snatchings in India. Three children themselves take on the mission to solve the case of these kidnappings. 

The content of this book is challenging, but Anappara deals with it deftly, on the whole. I'll look forward to reading more from this author. 

Many thanks to the author, the publisher, and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
Was this review helpful?
Well written story. Kept me engaged the entire time. A page turner for sure! Looking forward to reading more books by this author!
Was this review helpful?
In Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line, the narrator is nine year-old Jai who has decided to be like the detectives on his favorite TV show, Police Patrol , and try to help to find a classmate that has gone missing.  But when other children start disappearing from his neighborhood, Jai becomes in danger himself.   Drawing on real incidents and a large number of disappearances in modern day metropolitan India, this book is a debut novel by Deepa Anappara.

This book is usually the kind of book that I adore.  Young narrator, foreign land, opportunity to learn and explore new cultures...and while the author does a great job at descriptors and helping you understand the environment in which the book is set, the actual dialogue and plot could have been shared in a more concise telling.  Further, the title has very little to do with the book.  Very little.  I would love to read more works by this author but this particular style of story telling could have been a bit tighter and improved.
Was this review helpful?
Review posted at BookBrowse:

This dazzling debut follows three children investigating a series of disappearances in the slums of India.
In an unnamed slum somewhere in sprawling India, children are being plucked off the streets, never to be seen again. Jai, a devil-may-care nine-year-old obsessed with TV cop shows, decides to turn detective and begins investigating the disappearances of his schoolmates and neighbors with help from his two best friends—wise-beyond-her-years Pari and feisty Faiz. Together, these young sleuths try to deduce whether they are dealing with a sadistic kidnapper or something altogether more elusive, evil soul-snatching spirits known as djinn.
Was this review helpful?
As a debut novel, this book has several high points. First, as many have pointed out, there's the clever use of a child narrator. Anappara nails the tone and style though she stumbles now and then with getting the point of view to remain credibly that of a child. Second, there's the eye for nuanced detail that likely comes from the writer's journalistic works in Mumbai's slums. And, finally, there's the satisfying plotline that remains tautly-structured even as it twists and turns to keep a good pace going.

That said, there are some challenges with presenting a well-worn view of Indian poverty to a Western audience and it's evident that the author has pandered somewhat in this aspect. While she eschews explaining or highlighting non-English words/terms/phrases, she is unable to avoid over-simplifying certain complexities of Indian society and culture. This may well have been advice from well-meaning editors or the writer's own choice. Whatever the case, for a reader who is very familiar with India. this is likely to grate after a while.

All that said, for a debut novel, this is above par and promises of greater things to come.
Was this review helpful?
When a classmate goes missing, Jai along with his friends Paris and Faiz decide to do some detective work to find him. What they find is much more than they ever bargained for!
Anappara gives a Richly detailed story of friendship in uncertain times. The characters are realistic, the setting so well detailed I felt I was there in India too, and the plot a multidimensional tapestry that takes some time to become clear. I enjoyed this one immensely!
Was this review helpful?
A brilliantly written book!  Deepa Anappara, truly imersed me into the story.  Thank you for an advanced copy,
Was this review helpful?
I was given a copy of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara in exchange for an honest review. 

I really enjoyed this novel. It was definitely hard to read at times. I was surprised at my lack of knowledge about how terrible the income inequality and corruption run in India. Following Jai and his friends was a great way to introduce the reader to this world. It was so dark at times I kept forgetting that I was reading something current. It kept reminding me of the slums in 19th century London. That is definitely my privilege showing. I did love the kids. They somehow reminded me of Harry Potter, Ron and Hermione. All on their own search for justice. When I originally asked for the arc originally it was because the summary reminded me of It by Stephen King. Children banding together to stop other children from going missing( maybe even a supernatural force doing it ie Djinns causing it)...while all along the prevalence of hatred, fear and violence run deep in both books. I felt like Djinn Patrol was just as effective. The book also challenged me to read in a completely unique style and learn so much about Indian culture. I’m glad I read this book.
Was this review helpful?
An interesting tale of the number of children that go missing in India and the people who live around them. I found the writing to be terrific and did a great job of capturing the atmosphere of the markets in an Indian community. There is a large discrepancy between those that have money and those that do not. The writer did a good job in giving a description of the community and sense of how they react, or not, to the epidemic of missing children. Well done book, recommended.
#NetGalley #DjinnPatrolonthePurpleLine #RandomHouse
Was this review helpful?
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is an eye opening story about daily living in the slums of India from the view of the protagonist, nine year old, Jai. The first 40% percent of the book was slow going for me. Although, well written, with a strong sense of place, there are many Indian words to navigate and the overall tone is one of danger and unhappiness. (Wish that I would have checked for a glossary at the beginning, as the e-version dictionary didn’t know most of the words I looked up.) It was heartbreaking to learn that about 180 children go missing in India everyday, with little help from police or government unless you are wealthy. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing with this ebook in exchange for my honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
Deepa Anappara’s Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a pretty powerful look at magical realism and imagination and suspended disbelief as a coping mechanism for children experiencing profound instability and devastating loss. Based on the very real issues of politically sanctioned ethnic violence,  catastrophic climate change, incalculable class division and the vulnerability of the most marginalized of children, this novel tells the account of one young boy who tries to make sense of the disappearance of so many children in his basti through reimagining this tragedy as his own detective show, and also imagining a supernatural perpetrator as the true threat in his life. A book that takes you into the worldview and rationalization of a child who sees himself as a lead actor in a play that he actually has no part in, you see these horrors through the eyes of someone coping with a world so much larger and colder and more sinister than a child can really look at straight on. The sweetness and whimsy and also the resilience of children who make their way through so much danger and pain in many places and cases was so apparent here, and it allowed space for this story to be told not as a tragedy but as a reality that gave characters lives and ideas and identities outside of what you see in news cycles that feed on small narratives built of stereotypes and oversimplification. A coming of age story in a hard age to come through, this book hadsome humour and gentleness and also a very real truth to tell. Thank you @netgalley for the ARC, opinions are my own.
Was this review helpful?
A simply amazing read and one of my best for 2020! Based on a true story in India, as Indian children start to go missing from his neighborhood, Jai and his friends become detectives to practice the crime-solving skills they have seen on television. But when Jai's sister becomes one of the missing, the stakes become higher and the danger rises. Very well written and readable book, recommended highly.
Was this review helpful?
The title of this book is misleading, as it implies a mysticism that isn't central to the story. This is a story about poverty, about the hopes and optimism of children despite their circumstances, and about the ways we overlook injustices suffered by the poor (in this case the presence of a serial killer snatching children from an Indian basti). I love that the author wrote from the children's perspective, and I appreciated the setting---I learned a lot about a place I'm unlikely to ever visit. Readers who want a neatly-wrapped happy ending will be disappointed, though Anappara's ending is more realistic. Readable, with many light moments despite the grim situations.
Was this review helpful?
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a refreshing yet haunting illustration of slum life in India, viewed through the eyes of a young boy. Jai grapples with the standard troubles of boyhood (difficulty with friends, parents, and siblings) while trying to come to terms with the mysterious disappearance of his classmates. When it becomes clear the police will not help them, he takes the investigation into his own hands, however reckless that may be. Throughout the story, Jai's optimism and self-confidence are balanced by his growing awareness of politics and his own weaknesses. This fast-paced coming-of-age story will take hold of your heart. I found myself cheering for the boy and his friends while at the same time worrying that they may be next to disappear. 

Jai is acutely aware of the differences between the rich and the poor, and he comments on them in the best way he knows how. Without having access to the "high-fi" life, and without having the general knowledge adulthood brings, he often explains things in his own childlike voice, which lends extra charm to the book. I especially appreciate the #OwnVoices nature of the book. Anappara uses the vernacular of children in India, without bothering to translate the Hindi words. 

Although this may not have been the point of the book, Djinn Patrol on the Purple line made me check ym privilege. While I knew I'd more or less won the "birth lottery", reading about Jai and his friends made me think about how excessive western-style living tends to be.
Was this review helpful?
What a fantastic novel! Anappara did a brilliant job of balancing the horrific events of multiple child snatchings with the narrator Jai’s bright voice, filled with child-like innocent for most of the book. I also appreciated how she did not feel the need to explicitly define all non-English words used throughout the book, allowing me to further enmesh myself in Jai’s world as I read.
Was this review helpful?
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a "Did not finish" for me.  I just could not connect with the characters to keep this story moving.  I found it heartbreaking that most people did not even respond to the missing children, and horrifying the state of poverty most lived in.  It was eye-opening to realize how many in India's slums live - and the precarious reality of many children there.  Very disconcerting that so many children in India disappear without a trace on a daily basis - as more children began to disappear and excuses were made it made me feel like Jai and his friends were not going to find any answers, and instead were placing themselves in harm's way.
Was this review helpful?
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara is an exception debut. The story is immersive, and Patrol is an exceptional story teller, her ability to write at a child’s POV and keep your attention, was masterfully done. I honestly can’t praise this book enough. Thank you, Random House for gifting me this DARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 4/5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Magnificent story telling! Set in one of India's city slums, housing Muslims and Hindus alike, children are disappearing. The atmosphere is described in perfect detail so the reader feels like they are there. The best part of this book though are the 3 friends (nine years-old) who decide they will investigate the disappearance of the children in the area they live. If you loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers you will love this book; great pair and compare. By far, my favorite book of 2020 so far. Starred review from Kirkus. 5.0/5.0
Was this review helpful?
“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.
Was this review helpful?