Rummanah Aasi
Description: 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.

Review: I was not a fan of Samira Ahmed's debut novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters, which I read for last year's Ramadan Reading Challenge, but after seeing the many starred reviews for her sophomore novel I decided to give it a chance and lowered my expectations. Internment has a powerful and horrifyingly very possible premise in which in the near fifteen minutes of the future Muslim Americans have been registered and detained in internment camps because they have been labeled as a threat to the United State's security. They are sent to internment camps where their constitutional rights have been stripped and they are forced to comply.
  I had a very hard time getting into the novel as the themes of inequality, privilege, and activism among many others are very heavy handed. I had to remind myself that this novel is not written for readers who are well informed with our current politics, but those who are completely oblivious to it. With this in mind I was able to overcome my first hurdle.
   My second hurdle for this book is the weak execution of the novel that had so much potential to be better. There is  a lot of telling instead of showing in this novel. Ahmed misses the opportunity to explore several key items that could have brought the book to life such as the actual politics from both the policy makers and those protesting against the Muslim ban, tying the internment camps to the actual camps during World War II to emphasize that history is actually repeating itself, exploring the intersectionality of the Muslim community which she attempts to do but barely skims the surface, and finally, but most importantly creating an activism movement that slowly builds and brings the Muslim community together rather than having a couple of reactive teens do things haphazardly.
  I also wanted to dig in deeper to the characters. Layla is a sarcastic teen who doesn't know when to shut up and when to have an interior monologue. She constantly puts her family in danger because she throws a temper tantrum that she can't speak to her boyfriend David, which sets the novel in motion. I understand her rage and her desire to do something, but she is dangerously impulsive and naive to the point of stupidity to think that her actions do not have consequences. She does grow and show bravery towards the last half of the book, however, other characters especially the guards who oppose their commands are not explored. The teen led activism could have been stronger and inspirational like the #Neveragain movement, but it was handled sloppily. The Director is also a cartoonish villain and one dimensional. Despite my issues with this book, I do think Internment is an important read because of its premise, but I wish it read like a novel rather than an author's soapbox. 

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some strong language and scenes of strong physical abuse. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka
3 Responses
  1. So much potential. I wish that it was executed better and that the characters were more developed.

  2. I agree with what you've said, but I rated the book higher because I think it's a good one for people / students to read. I think the author wanted it to be a bit in your face, which it definitely is. I agree that the main character needed to be more sensible and aware of her actions.

  3. It almost sounds like the author was being lazy or not willing to do the homework required to make the book extra special. I see that is book has gotten several starred reviews so it surprises me that it isn't that well done.

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