Thanks to Random House UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.
If I think about my reading history, I’ve probably read more books set in India than any other country and I usually really enjoy Indian own voices books. When thinking about it a little more, I realise that very few have been from the point of view of a child so this was an interesting perspective.
Jai, a plucky nine-year-old boy living in the basti (slums essentially) notices fellow children are disappearing and local police don’t seem to care. Jai is a huge fan of police detective television programmes, so he and his friends decide to investigate and set off on the eponymous “Purple Line” metro to try and find out what might have happened to the other children.
The sights, sounds and smells of the basti come to life through the author’s evocative writing and she has succeeded also in capturing a child’s perspective and what their motivations and feelings might be. I also enjoyed the chapters told from the point of view of the kidnapped children and the diversity of their life experiences.
Although the book can feel quite light-hearted at times, there is some serious social commentary happening too with human trafficking, child exploitation, child labour and religious intolerance and violence all being explored. Sometimes when I was reading this book, I had to remind myself that the events were being experienced by a nine-year-old boy living in an area where a child’s life is cheap.
My main issue with the book was that after a really strong start, I felt things flagged in the middle. Usually when I start reading a book for review, I don’t read anything but that book so that I don’t get distracted or mixed up with something else I’m reading. However, I kept putting this one down and reading other books as it lost my interest in the middle section. The story is well written, and I really liked the characters but the pacing in that middle section just lost it for me.