Book Review: Internment by Samira Ahmed


Internment by Samira Ahmed

Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Publishing Info: March 2019 by Atom

Pages: 386

Star Rating: 3/5

Back Cover Summary:

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.

Having seen the description for this book, I just had to buy it. The idea drew me in right away because of its relevance. Negative attitudes towards Muslims have sadly become more prominent lately, which is completely unfair. This book imagines what could happen if the situation in America escalated, and shows how quickly things can change. Although I felt it could have been better, this book was also incredibly shocking, as well as moving and heartbreaking.

Rather than being set in a far-flung ultra-futuristic setting, Internment is set in a near future that unfortunately you can really believe could actually happen. I think it being near future makes it more terrifying. So many dystopias are set in a distant future that feels a long way away, like something that wouldn’t happen for a while. But sadly you can imagine this happening now. The book tackles big issues such as Islamophobia and illegal detainment, and it’s so good to see serious subject matter explored in young adult fiction.

The opening few chapters had me completely hooked. I really felt in Layla’s shoes, experiencing her thoughts and emotions. The fear and suspense was brilliant. However, I didn’t feel that was sustained as strongly through the rest of the book.

The Director was very under-developed as a villain. He became a bit of a caricature. Almost comic, actually, rather than scary and intimidating as he should have come across. There was also a lack of intimidating presence from the guards. They were just sort of always there in the background, and I felt the author could have used the constant threat of their presence more to further present the sense of fear in the camp.

In terms of the execution and writing, the dialogue was a bit clunky in places. More depth could also have helped the description and wording have more impact. In places the bluntness is really effective and I’m glad the author didn’t shy away from making bold statements, but some more subtle touches mixed in could have made the book even better.

This book isn’t perfect, but it’s so important and relevant. The execution could have been better. Even so, people need to read it. People need to open their eyes and see how wrong it is to treat people like this because of their religion. Will we never learn from the mistakes of the past? This is a must-read for sure.

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