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Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment by Samira Ahmed

Published: 19th March 2019 | Publisher: Atom | Cover Designer:  | Source: Publisher
Samira Ahmed's Website

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.
From Goodreads.

Book Depository | Wordery | Goodreads

I received this eProof for free from Atom via NetGalley for the purposes of providing an honest review.

Trigger Warnings: This book features racism, Islamophobia, imprisonment, violence, violence against women, death, discussion of torture, discussion of internment camps - specifically Manzanar internment camp and Nazi concentration camps, and discussion of the Holocaust.

Firstly, I want to discuss how horrific this story is. It's set in the not too distant future in America where things that have been mentioned by someone in power have come about. There is a Muslim ban. There is a wall at the Mexican border. There are no refugees or asylum seekers. There is a curfew; there is book burning; there is mandatory watching of the president's address. Islamophobia is law. Layla's father lost his job as an English professor. Layla has been taken out of school for fear of what could come next, because she had been suspended just for kissing her Jewish boyfriend in public. The world Layla lives in is terrifying. And then men turn with guns turn up at their house, and under a new law that's come through, Layla's family must be "relocated", and are taken to a Muslim Internment Camp. Ahmed does a wonderful job of taking things that have been said, and showing what that would look like in reality. And it's all the more terrifying because it's not a huge leap from what has been said, to Internment becoming a reality - especially when this has already happened before, with Nazi concentration camps, and the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II, which Layla thinks about and discusses with the friends she's made. With what's been said and with what's in our not too distant past, the premise of Internment is so very believable. And this is why Internment is an important story; this is what could be. This is what shouldn't be. It doesn't flinch away from how petrifying this whole situation is. The removal of rights, the cameras in their caravan homes, the cameras one drones watching their every move, the guards who are absolutely everywhere. The threats to enforce obedience, the public violence, the people who disappear with no explanation, never seen again. Ahmed doesn't sugar coat any of it, and it's so, so powerful.

Unfortunately, for me, Internment was very slow. I get that they're in an internment camp, and there's not a huge amount they can do, but I mean in regards to the rebellion. I think the description is misleading, because it's not the kind of rebellion we would expect having read other dystopian novels. It's a lot quieter and a lot smaller. But it took such a long time for them to happen, and the pace just felt really off to me. It was a quick read, but it was one I did have to force myself to read at times, because I was losing interest.

And then there were events that happened that I had trouble suspending my disbelief for. Given all I've said about the world Layla lives in, and what happens in the camp, there were certain things that Layla does and gets away with that seemed so unrealistic. She might try to do those things, but she certainly wouldn't have got away with them. It just wouldn't have happened, not with all the eyes on them. There's a moment when she's found out for something, and nothing happens. Threats of violence and worse are made, but because of circumstances at the time, nothing happens in the moment, which makes sense - but you'd be damn well certain something would happen later, that there would be repercussions for it... but there weren't. Not to her specifically. And then, later, after the quiet acts of rebellion, she is questioned a number of times in relation to what's happened, while pretty much no-one else is. Layla is one of the people - and in some cases the only person - leading these acts of rebellion, but there's absolutely no way anyone would know that. There was no-one who would grass her up. And during the acts of rebellion, there was never a clear leader. So why on earth was she being dragged up and questioned all the time, yet pretty much nobody else involved was? Why was there no repercussions for those involved? Why only repercussions that affected the whole, but weren't a massive deal in the great scheme of things, when we've seen people being beaten, when we've seen people just disappear?

So while the whole premise overall is so believable as to be terrifying, there were a lot of things that happened that, for me, weren't. And that along with the very slow pacing led to me not enjoying this book very much, and feeling quite disappointed. But it is important, and there are parts of it that are really powerful. And there are a lot of people who loved it, so perhaps it's just me. So do read other reviews before deciding whether or not you'll read this.

Thank you to Atom via NetGalley for the eProof.

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Have you read any books that are terrifying due to how possible they are? What do you think of books that are important and powerful, but leave you feeling disappointed? Have you read Internment? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed


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