Author: Samira Ahmed
Pub Date: 7th March, 2019
My Rating: ★★★☆☆
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Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment 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 challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Internment brings to live a scary vision of modern day America that announces war state and forces all Muslims into an internment camp. Among those are Layla and her family, who we meet in quite an annoying circumstances. In the world that supposed to be so scary, our the main character makes such a stupid decision of defying a police hour without a compelling enough reason, making me as a reader annoyed with her immediately.
Let me start with the issues I had with the story, as those are strong in the first part of the book. I wished more time was dedicated to bringing us into the world of Muslim oppression that reached that level. The only thing we get at the beginning of the book is a list of events that happened in last months and some glimpses of how people reacted. If the author decides to put the story in a modern world, incorporates real-life events (Muslim ban) and words that did come out of the actual presidents mouth (‘fine people on both sides’ about Nazi march and ‘make America great again’ are the ones I caught), I need more introduction to the story and how the hell it all went so horribly wrong. Starting the story with irresponsible decision to sneak out to meet we boyfriend just before curfew risking getting back after said curfew doesn’t help with believing that the situation is really serious and life-threatening. Especially that the main character risks a lot just to kiss her boyfriend, this escapade didn’t have any deeper meaning that could help in her and her family situation.
I think the author starts the book with too much emphasis on telling us about the Muslim world and focuses on telling us instead of showing us what’s heppening. I’d appreciate if the author had the belief in the reader to check out the meaning behind some Arabic words used in the story, instead of providing us with explanation masked as ‘natural’ conversation or just main character’s thought. I might be judging it too harshly though, after all, it is a young adult book and author for sure meant well by adding those explanations. It’s just my personal preference that she didn’t.
Over the first part of the novel, we are forced to endure some extremely stupidity of Leyla but she eventually learns how to act in a way that has more meaning than just being an angry teen who doesn’t like being told. She grows to be an effective and inspiring resistance leader, she has her moments to shine and we can forgive her previous transgressions. The story gains momentum and with it becomes a meaningful story of resistance and the power of the masses. It also brings to the front the scary idea of what could happen if we all stay silent, what can happen if we decide to forget about the history and close our eyes to what’s happening in front of us.
I wish more thought was put into the character of the Director, to make him at least two dimensional, not just a flat representation of red, angry racist who runs a concentration camp. I think it would make the story better to see a fuller version of the Director, some glimpses of why he does what he does. Or if the director was less predictable, and more of an evil master. I just wanted him to be more to make the story more impactful.
I have mixed feelings about the story, it has some moments that make it great, but overall it falls flat, and there is so much that could be better. And after all I cannot judge a book just basing on the message, I also need the story to be strong enough to support the message.