The Bossy Bookworm
Review of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Updated: Aug 7, 2020
The vivid Indian setting was the star of this book.
For me, the vivid Indian setting was the star of this novel. Anappara, a journalist, captures the myriad sights, sounds, smells—and complicated network of politics and power—in an impoverished Indian neighborhood.
This is a place that those in higher castes would prefer to pretend does not exist, where residents worry that reporting concerns to the police will result in punishment such as the bulldozing of their homes, where a crush of population means knowing others’ intimate secrets and they yours, where the stench of refuse mixes with the delicious tang of Indian food, which we luckily get to read about frequently.
It was difficult for me to get a handle on the tone of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. Despite the mysterious disappearances of children that are at the heart of the story, this primarily felt young adult and light to me. It is told in young Jai’s point of view and primarily focuses on his outlandish ideas for becoming a detective (which are based on watching police shows), his youthful belief that he and a ragtag group of friends can quickly resolve the mystery, his often illogical and juvenile trains of thought, and his otherwise simple and age-appropriate concerns (Does he seem smart to others? How can he escape grown-up control and go where he wants, when he wants? Can he get away with clowning around in class? What’s the power dynamic between him and his two best friends?)
Late in the book, the tone takes what felt to me like an abruptly dark turn, and I felt a little jarred. The author’s note at the end outlines the often ignored life-and-death tragedies that inspired this work of fiction.
Random House and NetGalley provided me with a prepublication copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What did you think?
The setting was such a standout here for me, but I felt jarred by the tone shifts.
What did you think of this one?