The Many Lives of Ruby Iyer review


Whether you’re looking for a dystopia to break the trend of
Western societies or one with a fresh take on a YA protagonist, The Many Lives
of Ruby Iyer is definitely one to add to your ‘to read’ pile.

Set in the heart of Bombay, this book stands up to the
current obsession of UK/US settings and takes the idea of a crumbling society
to a whole new level. Laxmi Hariharan clearly uses her own experiences of the
city and creates an extremely vivid image of the hectic, overpopulated, yet ever
vibrant Bombay. India is a country rarely featured in YA books which The Many
Lives of Ruby Iyer addresses and calls the need for more diverse cultures and
societies to be showcased in YA fiction, especially dystopias, to give a
realistic representation of the world we as young people live in.

The dystopia in this book, like everything else within the
story, is pleasantly different. Unlike most dystopian books where we find
ourselves in the centre of a cruel government and a broken society, The Many
Lives of Ruby Iyer captures the moment when the world turns to chaos and a new
community arises. Despite not at first seeming like a dystopian book, the
dystopia comes in later on where we experience the collapsing of the city along
with our protagonist, making the situation easy to relate to, and showing a
different take on dystopian fiction as we know it. Differently so to other
books in this genre, we are not met with an overruling government, but a power
crazed woman who feels the need to change the world to amend her suffering.

Ruby Iyer is not your typical protagonist. Her motives don’t
stem from a romantic relationship, or the need to bring down the government, and
instead come from an inner anger that fuels her story. From very early on in
the book we see a character who, having come from a dysfunctional family, is
independently trying to make a life for herself in an unrelenting city. However
when an event causes Ruby to see the cruel reality and flaws of her society,
her anger of the world takes over (quite literally) and we see the protagonist
we have been waiting for in YA dystopias. Even though at times her actions may
seem unrealistic and extreme, Ruby’s passion and inner motives are refreshing,
giving the book an added edge.

Like most books for young adults, our protagonist finds
herself in the midst of a romantic relationship, however without the common
love triangle or our once independent girl becoming dependent on a man.
Instead, Ruby Iyer remains strong and feisty throughout which fuels the story,
and it is only near the end that we actually see the relationship as a main
part to her journey. One interesting element of the relationship between Ruby
and Vikram is the age gap between them which, despite sending out warning
signals in our minds, does not turn into a dominant factor or make Ruby seem
childish which is a refreshing alternative in YA dystopias.

Whilst at times the book does seem to loose its flow, it can
be rest assured that Laxmi always picks up the pace and keeps us coming back for
more, even when the dystopia seems too bleak to return to. So, why not get
yourself a copy and indulge in the crazy world of Rugy Iyer – you’ll certainly
not regret it.
Here’s where you can get one:

And make sure to check out our giveaway to be in with the chance of winning 1 of 3 copies.

Age recommendation – YA


  • Giannina 01/03/2016 at 4:39 pm

    All are dystopias. All deal with the maiolupatnin or distortion of reality. In 1984 and BNW, much more subtly in BNW, reality is distorted by the state for political purposes. In almost all Dick novels, reality is inherently unreliable the story often centers around the protagonist discovering that he is someone or something entirely different from what he believed. Also what it means to be human. it’s obvious in Dick’s novel, with the battles between human and android. In BNW, those living on the Reservation are seen as not really human, and in BNW, one character states directly that the proles aren’t human.

  • Laxmi Hariharan 22/04/2015 at 11:47 am

    Jess, thank you for reading Ruby's story!

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