“Internment” by Samira Ahmed

Thanksto Little Brown UK and NetGalley for the Advance Review Copy in exchange for an honest review.

This was a scary book. Scary because it was so utterly believable.

The story takes place in an America where Muslims are sent to domestic internment camps. Layla, a 17 year old Muslim, and her parents are sent to one such desert internment camp simply because of their faith. Layla soon chafes against her imprisonment and leads a resistance movement within the camp. She is aided by her Jewish boyfriend David, her new friend Ayesha, and Jake, a guard at the camp.

I really liked Layla’s character and it was interesting to see a different kind of Muslim portrayed in a YA novel. I liked how she was nerdy and spunky although, as with all novels peppered with current pop culture references, they age a novel horribly. I thought the writer did a good job of highlighting the different interpretations of the Islamic faith and the sheer diversity of those who identify as Muslim. The different ‘tiers’ of discrimination e.g. white passing Muslims being treated better than black Muslims was also explored.

The villain was a bit pantomime-y and I struggled to take his character seriously. Some events dragged a bit and the hint of a love triangle will repel some readers, especially considering Layla is 17 and the other character is presumably a fair bit older. It made me feel a little uncomfortable and it didn’t add anything to the story

Overall, an important and thought provoking book. The afterword is also worth reflecting on, one quote that stuck out for me in particular was-

‘When fascism comes to America, it will come draped in the flag’.

When.

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