Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

About the book:

Rebellions are built on hope.

Set in a horrifying ‘fifteen minutes in the future’ United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin is forced into an internment camp for Muslim-Americans along with her parents.

With the help of newly-made friends also trapped within the camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.

Heart-racing and emotional, Internment questions the imaginary boundaries that separate us and challenges readers to fight the complicit silence that exists in our society today.

Review by Katy Haye:

I liked Internment, but I didn’t love it. Internment was described as dystopian (to be fair, it was described that way on social media – that word does not appear anywhere on the cover), but it didn’t read like a dystopian YA novel. It read like a contemporary novel that’s only a few years ahead of where we are currently. Now, that’s of course a compliment to the writing and the writer, because that’s how it’s meant to read. But that in itself exasperated me. It felt like something I’d read before, because I’ve read things like Anne Frank’s Diary, or Boy in the Striped Pajamas. The frustration was because the setting and the story was so convincing – and it convinced me that humans are emotionally incapable of learning from history and we just move in circles repeating the same mistakes.

But the entirely of twentieth century western history is probably too much weight to put on a single book, so let’s move on from Internment’s existence to the writing. It’s a very well-written book; I was utterly absorbed. Layla was a wonderful, complex character and I really felt her hopes, fears, and anger. The relationship with her parents was beautifully drawn with their worries colouring their actions, and the dynamics of how the pressures of internment change relationships was fascinating.

I wasn’t fully convinced by either Jake or the Director. Jake’s true allegiance was fairly clear to the reader from the start, and I thought he took far too many risks, which left the Director looking stupid because he couldn’t see what was going on underneath his nose. I just kept thinking that it’s dangerous to portray those responsible for oppression as fools, because that runs the risk of underestimating them, which is surely exactly what leads to oppression tightening its grip while the rest of us feel like we blinked and missed it.

Jake’s recklessness, however, did make me challenge my own thinking – was I more worried that the “safe”, white character might venture into danger than that the “at-risk” Muslim character stayed in it? I really hope not, but if the purpose of Internment is to make you think, then it certainly worked!

I guess, to my shame, I liked but didn’t love Internment because it wasn’t a comfortable, enjoyable read. But for that and other reasons, I’m very glad I have read it.

Grishaverse giveaway

If you’re a lover of all thing grisha, check out Piranha Katy’s giveaway: you can win a collector’s edition of Six of Crows, and a *signed* edition of King of Scars.

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