Book Review: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line

My latest read for the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist was Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara. This novel, told from the perspective of 9-year-old Jai, tells the story of several children from an impoverished neighborhood in India, all of whom disappear around the same time. Inspired by the detective shows he has seen on TV, Jai decides to investigate the disappearances with the help of his two best friends.

The book: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line by Deepa Anappara
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

One of the biggest strengths of Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line is that it compassionately draws attention to major issues in present-day India, including: disappearing children, poverty, wealth inequality, religious tensions, and police corruption. As the novel unfolds, it becomes clear how these issues are interconnected and part of a larger systemic problem. All of this is shown through the perspective of a 9-year-old child who doesn’t quite understand how the world works, but is still impacted by all of these issues.

Prior to reading this novel, I had been skeptical about the story being narrated by a 9-year-old child. After reading the novel, though, I don’t think it would have worked from the perspective of an adult. By telling Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line from a child’s perspective, author Deepa Anappara is able to highlight serious issues of corruption and wealth inequality in contemporary India, without ever seeming preachy or self-righteous. And by developing realistic child characters with unique backgrounds, perspectives, and dreams, Anappara prevents the disappearing children from being viewed as just statistics.

Note: there are potential spoilers in the paragraph below:

While this novel was eye-opening and brilliantly written, the story itself was a bit slow. I thought the plot especially lost momentum around the second half of the novel, when more children continued to disappear but Jai and his friends got no closer to making sense of the disappearances. And while the book’s ending was certainly realistic, it was also disappointing. I think this was intentional: just as I was left wanting more resolution from the story, the families of missing children are left wanting answers about what happened to their children.

All in all, I recommend Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line. The characters are compelling, the setting is immersive, and the book draws attention to societal issues in contemporary India (in a compassionate way). The book may leave you feeling unsettled, but it is well worth the read.

Author: Hannah Celeste

Hi! I'm Hannah, a book-blogger from the Northeastern United States. I enjoy reading many genres, cooking and baking, doing yoga, and spending time with my two cats.

8 thoughts on “Book Review: Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line”

  1. Great review! We did feel very similarly about this one, the only difference, I think, was that I liked the ending! There is certainly a sense of things not being quite resolved, but I do tend to like that in an ending and can see where that won’t work for all readers. I thought that if the ending had been wrapped up any more neatly here it would have negated some of the tragedy of the problem Anappara is highlighting, though it is perhaps a bit odd that Jai’s family is the ONLY one of the main families not to have any closure at all.
    I enjoyed reading your thoughts! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I agree with you that the unresolved ending did make sense for this book – to say that every child gets a happy ending would be unrealistic and perhaps unfair to the children that really do go missing. Even knowing this, I still found myself wanting a bit more closure!

      Like

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