Nine year-old Jai lives with his family in a small village in India. He attends school, hangs out with his friends, and dreams of a better life – one where his family does not need to scrap for every rupee and the government cares just as much about the poor as they do the rich.
One day, a boy from Jai’s village goes missing. Jai and his friends search everywhere, even going so far as to searching all the way to the last station on the Purple Line train. Jai knows from watching police shows on TV that the first 48 hours are the most crucial for finding a missing person, and as that deadline comes without resolution, Jai and his friends become even more concerned.
Then, another kid goes missing. And another. Now the whole village is in an uproar, as they hold their loved ones close and blame the police for their inaction. There is political upheaval and fingers begin to point in every direction as the search for this missing children continues.
Is someone from the village snatching kids? Is it one of the rich people living in the high-rise buildings taking kids and selling them as slaves? Or could the myth about evil Djinns be true – the spirits are kidnapping them because the souls of children are the “most delicious”? Jai and his friends are set on finding out.
If you are like me, you tend to read every word in a book: from the publishing information in the front, to the prologue, the main story, and the acknowledgements. I find I learn so much from these things, and oftentimes these additional sections will provide much-appreciated information and/or context for the story.
That was very much the case with Djinn Patrol and the Purple Line. I read the editor’s notes at the beginning of the book from Caitlin McKenna (Senior Editor at Random House) and how she stated that she “couldn’t put it down” and the story “[swept] her away” with its immersive language and descriptions; and, I have to say, I was skeptical coming in. Reading the book from my living room in Suburban Chicago, could I connect that well with a story about a small village in India? It turns out the answer is an enthusiastic “yes”; my experience with this story was much the same as the editor’s.
The author, Deepa Anappara, wrote this book in such a way as to put the reader right into the thick of the story. It is so descriptive I could imagine myself going to school with these kids, hearing my name at roll call, and running around the market full of vendors – smelling the food, drinking tea, hearing the people talking, yelling, laughing, dodging runners. The best part of writing this way is the method the author uses; since most of this story is told from the perspective of Jai, a 9 year-old boy, so much of the description is built in to the plot. There are no information dumps here, as the author paints a portrait that merges seamlessly with the narrative. I was there, I swear, and you cannot tell me otherwise.
And there is something about seeing this world through a child’s eyes, while at the same time children are being kidnapped. The emotional impact is unspeakable, and I came to really care about all of the characters in the book. Being engaged as a reader in this way made for an engrossing story. I felt like I had just started reading, and the next thing I knew I had read two-thirds of the book, my heart was beating a mile a minute, and I was deeply concerned about the kidnapped children. I had to find out what happened to them; stopping was not an option.
I would be a liar if I told you I was completely satisfied with the ending. I did not get it at first, then I read an interview with Deepa Anaparra at the back of the book, and that helped shed some light on the conclusion of the story. I can see why the book ended the way it did.
Overall, Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line was a really good read. The story was intriguing and the writing so descriptive, I could not read it fast enough. I recommend this book for fans of mysteries, and for anyone looking for a story that pulls them outside of their comfort zone.