Title: The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer
Author: Laxmi Hariharan
Genre: Dystopian, young adult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
A YA thriller, with strong dystopian undertones and a kickass protagonist, taking you on a white knuckle ride through a disintegrating Bombay City.
A girl desperate to rescue her best friend.
A cop willing to do anything to save the city he serves.
A delusional doctor bent on annihilation.
When Ruby Iyer's best friend is kidnapped by the despotic Dr Kamini Braganza, she will do anything to rescue him. Anything, including taking the help of the reticent Vikram Roy, a mysterious cop-turned-rogue on a mission to save Bombay. The city needs all the help it can get, and these two are the only thing standing between its total destruction by Dr Braganza's teen army. As Bombay falls apart around them, will Ruby be able to save her friend and the city? Will she finally discover her place in a city where she has never managed to fit in? And what about her growing feelings for Vikram?
I have been making it a point to read more diverse fiction, so I was excited by the chance to read a novel featuring (and written by) someone of Indian descent. The plot synopsis was intriguing: a girl trying to save her best friend in a dystopian Bombay. There was a lot I liked about this book, but there was also a lot that I didn't. Overall, I'd say that I am looking forward to this author's future work, but not necessarily more of this series.
The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer started out strong, with a sassy and independent Ruby musing about whether her skinny jeans were going to get her groped on the street. I really appreciated the frank discussion on cat-calling and harassment, since it is a real problem, especially in the opening pages of the book. I thought to myself, here's a fearless protagonist who's not afraid to take risks and own her identity! But that didn't last very long.
After Ruby's transformation, she starts to lose her sense of who she is and what she cares about. The story started to get extremely convoluted; instead of the fast pace making the story more intense and gripping, it just made it more frantic and ridiculous. I also felt like the dialogue was stilted and trying too hard to sound "cool." All of this made me enjoy the story less and less as the story went on.
While I liked seeing an alternative Bombay and a fierce protagonist, I felt like the breakneck pace of the plot and the rather flat nature of the other characters pulled down the story for me. This just seemed like it could do with more editing and tightening of the dialogue and story to me.
*A free copy was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review*