Ajay and the Mumbai Sun

When Ajay, a young Mumbai orphan, realises his dream of becoming a journalist - thanks to an abandoned printing press and the help of his friends in creating their own paper - he uncovers political corruption which threatens the city's slum dwellers.

With some parallels to Andy Mulligan's Trash (but for slightly younger readers), Ajay and the Mumbai Sun is a fast-paced adventure featuring an indefatigable protagonist and a troupe of friends who are all looking to fulfil their potential and dreams.

The pacing of Varsha Shah's debut novel is relentless, as Ajay and his companions face mounting problems and threats. There is a lightness of touch and sprinklings of humour to the interactions between Ajay and his friends, which contribute to a fun, quick read. The darker elements of the story are not shied away from, however, and issues such as class and social status are also addressed in a way that is accessible to younger readers. Older readers might pick up on some convenient coincidences in the plot, and the story could have benefitted from a more sustained use of foreshadowing.

Younger readers, though, will care little for these quibbles. Instead, they'll be swept along in a tale of derring-do, propelled by the pursuit of dreams and ideals in the midst of seemingly insurmountable odds.