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Internment

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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.

386 pages, Paperback

First published March 18, 2019

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About the author

Samira Ahmed

22 books1,319 followers
SAMIRA AHMED was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in Batavia, Illinois, in a house that smelled like fried onions, spices, and potpourri. She currently resides in the Midwest. She’s lived in Vermont, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango.

A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English for seven years, worked to create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She’s appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC, NY1, NPR, and on BBC Radio. Her creative non-fiction and poetry has appeared in Jaggery Lit, Entropy, the Fem, and Claudius Speaks.

Her writing is represented by Joanna Volpe at New Leaf Literary, Inc.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,515 reviews
Profile Image for Hannah Greendale.
692 reviews3,241 followers
March 19, 2019
A powerful premise that crumbles under weak execution. According to Ahmed, Internment takes place '"fifteen minutes" into America's future.'* It's a terrifying "What if?" that sees seventeen-year-old Muslim American Layla, and her family, gathered against their will and shipped to an interment camp for Muslims who have been labeled prisoners of war.

Blunt is the word best-used to describe this book. Delivery of ideals and themes is heavy-handed. Everything is blatantly on the nose, spelled out in forceful terms for an audience of readers who, apparently, cannot be trusted to think for themselves. Internment doesn't read like a well-defined character exploring complex themes; it reads like an author saying, "Open wi-ide!" and shoving food into baby's mouth.

Speaking of characters, Layla is not a sympathetic protagonist. She has a grating obsession with her boyfriend, often risking her family's safety just to sneak a few kisses with him. These scenes are always awkward because Layla and her Jewish boyfriend, David, share no chemistry. Her vocabulary is limited and her dialogue, at times, is just plain insulting:
"I can't even make a goddamn phone call to hear my boyfriend's voice without begging. And I'm so sick of it. I hate the president. And I hate you. I hate you so much right now because you can shoot me for no reason at all and no one will say a word. And I hate myself, too, because I'm so fucking stupid to yell at a guard, and now I have to bow down and count on your mercy not to throw me in the brig or disappear me like all those other people who just wanted to live."*

This is a girl we're supposed to trust to lead the revolution?

Ahmed's ability to convey emotion is equally limited. Layla's sole means of expressing frustration is to it call her inner turmoil rage and to clench her fists, sometimes going so far as to punch her thigh with her fist. It happens often enough to warrant rolling one's eyes with laughable regularity. Layla's primary foe is the Director, the man who leads the internment camp, and he, too, opts to clench his hands into fists when he's angry, generally followed by slamming his fist on the table. He's such an over-the-top, underdeveloped villain that he comes across as funny rather than scary.

Which leads to the fundamental problem with Internment: It tumbles into the realm of cringe-worthy melodrama so often that it's impossible to take seriously. Scenes intended to be high-action with elevated stakes read like a B-movie script, with Ahmed noting in nearly every instance that the "action slows down"* and Layla is experiencing everything in slow motion.

Layla becomes a more rounded character near the midpoint, and she has moments towards the second half of the book when courage and bravery shine through. Unfortunately, the final climax is melodramatic chaos, followed by a hasty buttoning-up of loose ends (though some character motives are never explained).

Internment's strengths lie within its brief accounts of marginalized persons having been interned subsequent to oppressive leadership (referencing Japanese-Americans in America and Jews in Nazi Germany during World War II). And the Author's Note is both a call to action and a beacon of light.

All of the hot-button words apply to this book - important, poignant, relevant, timely, imperative - but tackling this premise requires grit and maturity, gravity and nuance. Sadly, Internment offers none of those characteristics, and the result is a book with great potential that ultimately disappoints.

-
*Note: All quotes taken from an Advanced Reading Copy.
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,424 reviews8,998 followers
November 28, 2022
This hurts my heart to write this, y'all, as Internment was one of my most anticipated reads of 2019. I'm so sad to report that it didn't work for me.



One reason for my excitement was that this novel explores topics that need to be included more often in fiction.

This book did touch on many issues salient in today's world, such as: Islamophobia, xenophobia, the dangers of an 'us vs. them' mentality, the politics of fear, the importance of resistance movements in initiating change, black op sites, disappeared peoples, the illegal detainment of individuals, as well as the abuse, neglect and torture of detainees.

All of this stuff. Yes! Let's see more of it, particularly from those peoples or populations most affected.



My issue with this was purely in execution.

The first 20% was so gripping. The circumstances, terrifying. I was hooked.



Then it just lost me. Layla, the main character's, fixation with her boyfriend, the storyline involving the guard, Jake, the dialogue...



My word, please, don't get me started on the dialogue.

In summation, this was a big disappointment for me.



I still believe the content is super important and I hope people continue to read and discuss this story. I am sure I am in the minority opinion here.

As I always say, there is a reader for every book. Sadly, this one just didn't work for me.
Profile Image for Bang Bang Books.
475 reviews206 followers
November 6, 2019
A two star is harsh-I know but it had to be done.

Last year I said I was no longer going to say that a writer is bad; I was going to start saying that their writing was not for me. In this case, I'll have to go back on my word and say that I don't think Ahmed is a good writer.

I thought the idea was good but the execution...YIKES!!!

Problem #1-The World. It's set in a not so distant alternate universe but Ahmed doesn't explain it; she just assumes the reader will fucking figure it out...um, no. If you think about The Handmaid's Tale which is also set in a not so distant alternate universe, Atwood immerses the reader in her world that is far-fetched but it makes you feel like it could really happen. The tone in this book should have been similar but it's all info-dumped in the first couple of pages. Once again, the author seems to assume that the reader is familiar with the Japanese Internment camp and the current child separation issue at the border and doesn't make much of an effort to educate those readers who are unfamiliar. Even if it was a choice to not divulge into history, there was no world building here. You can't create a contemporary topic in an alternate universe and forget to build your world. Ahmed TELLS us that people hate muslims and she TELLS us that people are getting their hijabs ripped off their head and TELLS us that once friends and neighbors are turning on them because of their religion.

Problem #2-The Characters. Layla, the MC, wasn't a bad character. She made rash terrible mistakes, she thought about her boyfriend A LOT, and she didn't agree with her parent's conforming behavior so she resisted. Layla's problem was that she didn't have a new voice. I've read this girl several times; she brought nothing new to YA. Captain or Corporal Reynolds was too helpful too quickly. Perhaps that was point but that is stupid because his character could have been unreliable which would have made him interesting. The boyfriend was milquetoast and the parents were predictable. You know that friend you have who tells you stories about something that happened and mentions people you don' t know but continues to tell you the story like you know who the hell Brenda is? Well, Ahmed did this. There were several instances where it was supposed to be tense because Noor resisted and was taken away by the guards. Who the hell is Noor and why do I care about her? This happened several times, but this book was so full of tell-not-show that when something did go down the reader was left shrugging. Show us how callus and despicable the guards and the director are; don't just tell us they are dragging people to prison. The director seemed to be some cartoon caricature of Jim Jones from Jonestown and not a believable villain.

Problem #3-The Words on the Page-This is minor but it bothered me. Right now our reality is Trump and the daily news of his shit and Ahmed mentioned how The State of the Union is now required and congress is required to stand and clap. Um, do teens know what the state of the union is? Were they really paying attention that shit show? Let's assume that the average teen doesn't now what that is and tell them. Many adults don't even know what it is; I just learned what it was last month and I'm old.

Layla suffered from the teens-don't-talk-like-that syndrome. "Corporal Reynolds is a puzzle with lots of pieces, but half of them are missing. So I can't really see who he is." And "We passed the afternoon in delicious solitude." And "...probably no one is thinking about an appropriately weighty, yet catchy phrase to call our quagmire right now. We're all too busy." WHAT THE HELL?!

Ahmed had as assload of different metaphors for prison. Yes, they are in an internment camp that feels like a prison; we got it the first five different ways you said it.

Why do authors write MC who need to be told umpteen times to stop being reckless or bitchy or selfish? Please learn a new way to write growth.

Authors, please stop making your characters Star Wars or Harry Potter fans in lieu of character development.

Back to Captain/Corporal Reynolds. He was a guard in the internment camp and there are times when he's called captain then he's called corporal. I'm pretty sure it's an ARC mistake but I think he's a corporal and he has a lot of power. If i’m not mistaken and I don't think I am because I watch MASH but a corporal is low on the totem pole. Why does Corporal Reynolds have so much power? If I'm wrong about rankings, please correct me.

Overall, this book has an important theme on Islamophobia but Ahmed didn't do a good job of tell this story. Too much telling and not NEARLY enough showing; the characters were not nuanced and too on-the-nose; there was no tension to an otherwise tense topic. I didn't enjoy anything about this book; that's why it's a one star.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
743 reviews1,108 followers
November 10, 2021
File:Manzanar Flag.jpg
(Scene of barrack homes at Manzanar, a War Relocation Authority Center for citizens of Japanese ancestry during WWII, by Dorothea Lange)

Internment is a timely work of fiction, imagining what could easily happen in an America where people are controlled by fear and prejudice. In an America where Donald Trump is elected president. In an America where people gullibly follow the populist, who rants and raves about building walls and "making America great again".

Set shortly after the 2016 presidential election, Internment is the story of Layla Amin, a 17 year old Muslim American. In this story, Muslims are rounded up and placed in a fictional internment camp called Mobias, a camp that, like Manzanar, had been used to imprison Japanese Americans during WWII . Whilst most people quietly comply, Layla is determined to fight back and demand her freedom as an American citizen.

This book had much potential, and yet it fell short of my expectations. Like many YA books, it merely skims the surface of the story. It is not deep enough for my liking, does not delve into the characters' minds and psyches. It was just a running stream of teenage dialogue that seemed to drone on and on, and unbelievable characters (especially the director of the camp who was portrayed almost as a cartoon villain). If this had been written as an adult book with more mature-sounding characters, I would probably have liked it a lot more. Perhaps those who love YA fiction will love this book, but it just wasn't my thing.

Thank you to the author, publisher, and Edelweiss for a DRC of this book. This in no way influenced my review.
Profile Image for human.
628 reviews932 followers
April 7, 2021
(1.5/5)
"oh, corporal reynolds, hold me in your strong manly arms as i swoon for the millionth time- oh wAIT AREN'T YOU MY OPPRESSOR BEGONE HEATHEN" *proceeds to be held by him while he says things typical of the enemy love interest*
- my friend (I said I was going to steal that, didn't I), who happened to read this book around the same time I did but managed to say everything far clearer than I will :) )

Honestly, I'm more disappointed in this book than in my own existence.



I think my main takeaway from this book was that although the story was built around a very interesting concept, everything that could have been meaningfully presented was lost in a sea of YA tropes and drama.

This book is YA dystopia, there is absolutely no doubt about that. I was incredibly interested to start reading this because of the plot: Muslim internment camps, in an America not too dissimilar from our own. I went into this book expecting something with a good, relatively action-filled plot, at least somewhat likable characters, and especially something that worked to reveal the flaws in our social system, that explained how when we allow racism to happen we are allowing it to grow; something, anything with meaning.

I suppose the reason I was so let down is my own fault: the far-too-high standards I placed on this book.

And what did I get instead? Nothing of any substance, that's what.



For the approximately ten pages that were really focused on the social issues this book was based on, we were just preached at by Layla's inner monologue, being told over and over again that:
Everyone practices their religion in different ways.
You have to hold onto hope, even if things don't seem too hot.
Being judgemental = a big no-no.
Everyone rebels and persists in different ways, because otherwise you're a traitor and that's the tea ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Don't piss off the aunties (a good rule to live by, in general).
Two legs good four legs bad - or maybe it was the other way around?

As for the rest of the book, you ask? Well, nothing new, really, when you compare it to The Generic YA Dystopian Formula™:
We've got our annoying Speshul-Snowflake™ main character, who's absolutely enraged all. the. time, and is willing to do anything to take down the Corrupt Government™.
Somehow, amidst all the chaos and panic that takes place, Ms. Speshul is able to think nonstop about her boyfriend, The One She Left Behind™, and who he's going to take to the prom since she's stuck in the camp.
There's also The One She Seeks Solace In™, who at first seems evil, seeing as to how he's On The Other Side™, but then reveals that he has sympathetic tendencies/has some decent morals/is a double agent/is just a big softie on the inside.
There are the side characters, one of whom most likely dies a Tragic Death for the Greater Good/Not Made In Vain™, that which spurs the others into action by.
We've also got The Traitors To Our People™, Evil Camp Leader Who Makes It His Personal Mission To Make A Teenage Girl's Life A Miserable Hell™, The Useless Adults™, and, of course, The One Who Dies Protecting Ms. Special-Snowflake™.



There was an incredibly high number of plotlines that simply weren't wrapped up by the end of the story (not that the story was all that great to begin with. Long story short, nothing happens). The author had seemingly chosen to go with the dramatic, worthy-of-a-soap-opera-award ending that left me feeling lukewarm, rather than a holistic one that would wrap up the loose ends and attempt to save the story and the meaning behind it.

There was also a romantic subplot which I just found so. damn. unnecessary. It was incredibly irritating to read through Layla's thoughts as one second she was pure rage, desperately planning for a way out of the camp, and the next (when the author realized, "Hey, this is a teenage girl, right? She's supposed to be constantly thinking about things like, um, boys?") was obsessing over her boyfriend oN tHe OuTsIdE, David. Like, um, hELLO??? YOU ARE LITERALLY IN AN INTERNMENT CAMP??? YOU MIGHT DIE AT ANY MOMENT??? WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT WHO HE'S GOING TO TAKE TO PROM??? AHAHAHAHAHA NO. STOP TRYING TO MAKE CHARACTERS QuIrKy AND ReLaTaBlE BY TAKING AWAY ALL COMMON SENSE AND PERPETUATING STEREOTYPES.



All of that isn't to mention the weird ✨something✨ going on between Corporal Reynolds and Layla herself, as so eloquently mentioned prior. (Seriously. It was weird. Apart from all the trope-y dramatic nonsense that was going on in general, Corporal Reynolds was radiating simp energy for Layla, who wasn't really doing anything to deter it. 👀)

All of that being said, the characters themselves were so terribly disappointing (someone add that to the list of letdowns: 'expectations vs reality', 'romance', 'dystopia', 'plot', 'sheer annoyingness of the book as a whole'). None of them were developed, at all; Layla's defining trait was how SpEsHuL and DeFiAnT she was, the Camp Director was cruel, David was on the outside, and Cpl. Reynolds had a tattoo (or maybe it was his tousled hair, manly arms, and sharp cheekbones?).



There was no character growth, but that's only because you have to have a character for it to grow. The setting had the potential to be interesting and significant to the plot, but ultimately, this was a disappointment as well (it was literally a desert. I'm not even joking when I say that). The writing was actually decent, which further leaves me thinking that this book had the potential to be really good. I wish I could read the book that could have been than actually is.

And while we don't get anything that could make this book meaningful and actually accomplish what it claimed to do, we do, however, get a lot of drama, pining, and drama. Because yes.

Overall, I'm just hella disappointed, y'all. Where I was expecting something that would really begin to get into the crux of systematic racism towards Muslim Americans, and how being bystanders seals us to our fate, I just got a bunch of fluff and descriptions of angry teenagers being angsty. I'm genuinely sad to say that I'm not even mad, just disappointed.



Also somewhat concerned because we read this for school. The fact that 'fuck' showed up every few pages makes me think that the English department didn't read this before telling us to.

Bottom Line? Solid concept, shitty execution. Not impressed, would not recommend.
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,548 followers
April 4, 2019
Original review posted on my blog : Word Wonders

TW: Islamophobia, slurs, displacement, internment camp, violence, torture, electrocution, gunshots, death.

If you know me, you know that this one of my most anticipated releases and I’m still in a little in denial about the fact that I read it back at the end of 2018, and it’s all done. I admittedly didn’t love it as much as I hoped but I still have a lot of love for it. I will go in detail about the why of it a little further down in the review but I want to preface it by saying that this my review for the ARC. I was told by the author that there are some major changes in the finished copy, namely more talk of white supremacy as well as making the love interest biracial in addition to Jewish and a discussion of that intersection. So I will probably read the finished copy when it releases and edit my review accordingly.

The opening chapter is one of the most powerful and memorable ones I’ve ever read. The writing is like a punch in the gut. That’s the best and only way I can accurately describe it. It’s so emotionally packed and hits you right where it hurts the most, it pushed all my buttons, poked at mine and many other Muslims folks biggest fears and that was hard. Internment was hard to read. Especially with how introspective it is, it focuses a lot in how the main character feels in the horrible circumstances, her thought process and how she deals with said feelings. Fear, anger and despair are at the forefront of it all so this book can be quite draining, emotionally speaking.

Internment is set a couple years after the US election and it felt to me like a companion to Love Hate and Other Filters (it’s not) and that Maya would be in that camp as well. As Muslim citizens are first put on strict curfew and made to live an impossible life, and then gathered and shipped off to internment camps, and you know what? This was a pretty accurate representation of today’s society with teenagers leading the rebellion and pushing for change and I don’t think it would have been realistic any other way. I also liked the nuance that went beyond the Us vs. Them dichotomy. How the internees found support in the most unexpected places but were also betrayed by their own keen.

Like I said before, this book is very introspective, which is understandable. In circumstances where people have their freedom stripped away, are trapped and can’t do much of anything, their thoughts are the only thing they still have so we get a lot of Layla’s reflection and ruminations, her feelings and internal turmoil. That being said, I wish the book dove deeper into the history and politics of internment camps, the oppression, brain-washing, and propaganda that makes them more or less accepted by the masses, giving them a false sense of security. Don’t get me wrong, we do get that, as well as some historical parallels between the current camps and Japanese and Nazi concentration camps during WWII but by the end, it still left me with a sense of lacking, I wanted this book to dig deeper, I felt like it only grazed the surface when it comes to its potential in this regard.

I love Layla as a main character so much. She’s impulsive and a fool who doesn’t know when to protect herself sometimes but it’s all for the greater good. She’s a smart mouth, strong, resilient and I admired that so much about her. How no matter how bad her situation got, and even when her faith of ever being free again wavered, she still pushed through and refused to give up on herself and her community. Even when said community doesn’t back her up and I think that takes a lot of bravery. She goes through so much in the book and grows a lot, learning when to speak up and when silence is her greatest weapon.

She strikes up a friendship instantly with Ayesha, another girl at the camp, and it feels like her solace, someone she can laugh with, and cry with, someone she can confide in and who will understand exactly what she’s going through. Ayesha is also her voice of reason sometimes when she goes too far. I loved their friendship so much. Other minor characters appear but this one is the one that stuck with me the most. Then there’s David, Layla’s boyfriend from high school. I loved how supportive he was and how he never gave up on her, not even for one second. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, he often missed the mark and said the wrong things at the wrong time, but he listened and learned. And did his best to help with the means he had.

Internment is an important story and one I encourage everyone to read if you want a look into the terrifying future that is only a few steps away from the current climate in the US. Because truth be told, this book is closer to reality than it is to dystopia.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
582 reviews820 followers
January 23, 2021
Internment is not a perfect story. But it is so, so powerful.

I know people will say that this book sounds “exaggerated” or “tries too hard,” but I personally disagree with the idea that Internment is overdoing it. Very strongly.

Internment shows a dangerous future that may be shocking to some, but isn’t unimaginable to me. This book shows a future that could be very likely if we don’t speak out against it.

It’s scary. It’s so scary. I think people who find this as a caricature or as overblown need to consider that this is
1. written for teenagers!
2. drawn from real life, and can very well be true. I think people who think this is overblown need to take a step back and reconsider whether they understand the full extent of Islamophobia today.

Internment, in my opinion, is not supposed to be a book about pain. It’s not supposed to spend a lot of time on suffering, but rather focuses on rebellion. On fighting back. On giving hope.

It isn’t perfect. But I think it’s a very good start and that it can’t satisfy everyone.

I think anyone who reads this book is hoping for something different out of it. And I don’t think Internment will be able to please everyone. I personally was hoping for a less clean ending (weird, I know), but what Ahmed provided was different from that, but this didn’t make it bad.

Islamophobia and its potential to harm so many is such a huge topic, and I don’t think any book would be able to adequately cover every element of this specific brand of hate.

Ahmed still did a wonderful job of exploring the topic, and I really appreciated the nuance she added with the racism within Muslim communities (i.e. how black Muslims are treated differently from white Muslims or desi Muslims etc.).

Internment may not cover everything, and it definitely won’t satisfy everyone. But I think, ultimately, the courage Layla shows in starting a rebellion was extremely admirable, awe-inspiring, and powerful.

I think this is a wonderful book–for teens especially. It’s powerful and is clear in its message while still holding that subtext in between the lines.

(I also think that adults need to remember, when reviewing this book, that it’s for teens and that writing a book with an extreme level of graphicness and a less hopeful message ultimately will decrease Internment‘s power for its intended audience.)

So please read Internment. I find it moving and powerful, and I believe everyone needs to not only read this, but read this with the seriousness and consideration that it deserves.

My review did not do this book justice, but I hope it provided some insight into just how important I believe Internment is. It’s a story of girl who rises up against hatred, and is inspiring in every way.

Thank you so much to The NOVL for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

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Profile Image for Saajid Hosein.
128 reviews691 followers
July 17, 2022
Miss Samira came through with the book, but left with my wig.
Profile Image for pdbkwm.
346 reviews35 followers
July 3, 2019
I feel horrible about my feelings towards Internment and for the one star. From a reader's standpoint, this is probably the worst book that I've read all year. I didn't care about the writing, I don't think any of the characters felt real or were fleshed out and the premise, while having tons of potential, felt more like an after school special than anything else. It just felt shallow.

And this hurts. It hurts because Internment is about Muslims and I’m a Muslim. The rise of Islamophobia is steadily getting worse and worse with each day that passes. The way people look at you, the micro-aggression that you face on a daily basis and the policies that governments place in an effort to oppress you – I get all that and understand it.

But this book was not the way to go about it.

Samira Ahmed mentions that she ‘feels a lot of anger’ over what is happening in the States today. Things like the concentration camps at the border, the rise of hate and fascism, the Muslim ban, anti-Semitism, police brutality, etc… The world is getting scary, especially if you’re a person of colour, so I have tons of respect for Ahmed for writing Internment.

The Pros:

○ Layla isn’t a practicing Muslim

I like that this book dealt with Muslims who weren’t practicing. This sounds like a weird plus, since I usually hate that Muslims marketed as Muslims don’t really have much Islam in it, but I think it works here from a storytelling perspective. If Muslims were rounded up and placed into camps, then it wouldn’t matter if you prayed all five prayers a day or didn’t. As long as you said you were Muslim, you’d be taken away. In that sense, it made perfect sense that Layla, our MC, wasn’t practicing. She may say some du’as every so often, but she doesn’t pray and has a non-Muslim boyfriend.

Usually this is a turn off, but it worked here.

○ The premise is important

All you have to do is turn on the news to see what is happening. It’s disgusting, it’s horrible and it feels like there’s no hope for change. I do like that Ahmed’s message is to resist and continue to have hope. That is important.

…and that’s it.

I feel like if I mention the cons I’ll end up ranting, so I’ll just briefly mention them here:

The characters are all flat - every single one of them including Layla, which is weird since we’re in her head for the entire book. At times Layla didn’t feel like a teenager, but an older person who was trying to sound like one of the kids. At other times, her naïve nature felt like a child.

For example, in the Muslim internment camp, Layla sneaks around without a care in the world. She says that she knows it’s dangerous, but she doesn’t really understand just how dangerous it could be. In one scene Jake, the guard with a conscious, speaks to Layla in her room. She questions why he’s talking to her there since it would look suspicious and he says,

“A guard going into a woman’s bedroom—let’s say it’s probably happening, and the Director doesn’t care.”

Layla then responds with, “Gross. That’s. Just. Wrong. It’s a guard and a prisoner. A prisoner can’t consent. It’s—“

By this point, my eyes were tired of rolling so they just glazed over and stared off into the distance.

Did she not think rape was going on in these camps? That no one was being abused in this way? Layla does say that she was sheltered when it came to real violence, but come on now. Come on now.

This brings us to my biggest problem in the book; the internment camp didn’t seem that bad. Every family had their own trailer, they were provided with food, clean water, soap and toothpaste. They were allowed to work at the camp and read books. Sure, sometimes people got beat up, but no one was really killed. There were only two major deaths in the book and both of them came near the end.

Layla was thinking about the concentration camps that happened throughout history, while relating her own situation to it and I kept side eyeing her. This and this alone is why I feel bad about hating the book. Taking someone and placing them in a camp is always a bad thing, but Layla kept complaining when she didn’t have it that bad. “Oh gosh, I miss David! I just want to kiss him for no reason. Why do I have to be stuck here with little to no supervision while I talk to my friends? This place sucks.”

I started thinking about Guantanamo Bay and the torture that happened there. I thought of the Japanese internment camps and the death camps of Auschwitz and the atrocities that happened. I thought of the black people who are forced into solitary confinement, when they haven’t been charged with a crime. I thought of the Indigenous children who were raped and beaten while the Canadian government tried to wipe away their identity. I thought of the children separated from their parents at the border and the people who are raped, beaten and laughed at there. I thought of the kids in Syria and Palestine who only know war.

I thought of so many horrible things that have happened and are currently happening in the world and then looked at what Layla went through and got incredibly annoyed by her privilege. It made me feel like the only reason the author gave Layla a Jewish boyfriend was to equate the Jewish pain to what Layla went through and I wasn’t buying it. Their relationship was a non-entity too.

If Ahmed made this internment camp worse and made the guards worse, I think I wouldn’t be so angry by what we got. I mean, they weren’t even fed pork! This place was a pork free zone. I wanted nothing more than to feel Layla’s desperation and hopelessness, but she sounded like a brat 99.9% of the time and I don’t want to feel this way about someone who went to an internment camp. The Director of the camp even said something to the affect of, “I want everyone to go back to working and flirting.”

Flirting. He wants the Muslims there to sex it up and wants them to eat their own cultural food. The food. OMG! The only complaint about the food was the lack of seasoning. The torture! They are giving us food but it doesn’t taste authentic.

*deep breath*

Internment has a lot of good ideas, but the heavy handed nature fell flat. If the writing was better and the world was developed more, this would have been okay, but since it wasn’t I was left feeling short changed here. Everything Layla went through felt shallow and her anger at her situation was steeped in privilege that it took me out of the narrative presented.

I wish Internment was better. I really do.

Profile Image for halfirishgrin.
288 reviews177 followers
January 4, 2019
There is a lot to love about this book, especially since it focuses on some grim realities for Muslims in our world today, along with the possibility of a pretty grim future for us too.

I'm mostly rating this 3 stars because I feel like this book didn't push enough, when it should have. For me, it was strongest when the book really dug into the history of interning marginalised people under propaganda and oppressive leadership. Like the parallels Ahmed draws to WWII and Nazi concentration camps specifically. Not to even draw direct comparisons, but it does a fantastic job of expressing the true horror that turning a blind eye to oppressive regimes can lead to.

Unfortunately though, these strong instances were few and far inbetween, which meant a lot of the worldbuilding around Internment felt incomplete. Or I was left with a lot of questions that were never answered.

I would still highly recommend reading this, but I do think it's lacking in certain areas, despite its strengths.
Profile Image for Blaine.
712 reviews571 followers
September 28, 2021
Internment is a YA novel and I am, sadly, decades past being a YA myself. So when I say this book didn’t work for me perhaps that should be expected because I’m not the target audience. But good YA novels—certainly the best ones—appeal to readers of all ages. The substantial flaws here prevent this book from having much adult appeal.

Set “fifteen minutes into our future,” Internment tells the what-if story of America passing a series of laws to marginalize and then actually imprison Muslim-Americans in an internment camp in the California desert. The story is as unsubtle as it sounds. The unnamed President is so obviously Trump that it’s absurd after a while that he goes unnamed. Here’s just one example of what I mean:
One detail that’s impossible to miss? Just like in the train station, every person with a gun is white, and not white like maybe they’re Bosnian—the kind of white that thinks internment camps are going to make America great again.
There are discussions of the Holocaust and the Japanese internment camps during WWII, which might be educational for younger readers but are too on the nose to anyone who finished high school history classes.

Internment’s main character is seventeen-year-old Layla Amin, who seems pleasant enough. She’s focused on her boyfriend and tennis and the prom, which seems an unlikely pedigree for the leader of a resistance that will bring down the internment camp from the inside within a month or so. I mean, there are adults in the camp, probably some lawyers and activists with extensive knowledge of civil rights protests and collective action, yet somehow a child will lead them. Again, it’s a YA book so a YA protagonist is understandable, but it’s ridiculous. Especially since Layla spends too much time (by which I mean any time) while she’s interned worrying about her boyfriend and his prom date. Outside of her and Jake, and their strange relationship, the other characters are generally one-dimensional. There are loyal friends, overly cautious adults, and traitorous collaborators. There’s the camp’s Director, who is cartoonishly evil, yet also way too many sympathetic camp guards.

But Internment’s biggest flaw may be that it wants so badly to impress upon the reader how chillingly possible its premise is, but then has a completely unrealistic storyline. Because the author is not wrong that the are politicians who, given the power, probably would round up Muslim-Americans and intern them. But if that ever actually happened, a band of teenagers and some protesters are not going to stop them. The Japanese were interned for years in WWII. The detention camps on our borders have operated for years, and bad press about the conditions inside them have not created enough pressure to shut them down. So writing a novel that says “here’s this plausible, terrible thing that I’m telling you may happen really soon, but if it does we’ll get out of it super fast, no worries,” is inexplicable. People would be much better served by reading George Takei’s excellent book They Called Us Enemy about his time in the Japanese Internment camps, or the fictional American War, which seems a far more likely prediction of what might happen in the aftermath of setting up these type of camps. A disappointing novel. There are far better options for anyone looking for dystopian YA fiction.
Profile Image for Suad Shamma.
681 reviews155 followers
June 30, 2019
So. I’m surprised at the amount of negative reviews this book has gotten. Seems like the only thing readers got out of the story is a 17-year-old girl obsessed with her boyfriend and not fit to lead a revolution. That makes me kind of sad, to tell you the truth, and super disappointed.

The expectations people have these days…unreasonable. They strip down a really important story into tiny details that, honestly, are not important to the overall plot.

Yes, Layla was obsessed with finding a way to get in touch with her boyfriend. Yes, she was rebellious and risked getting herself and her family in trouble, and she acknowledges that and is constantly terrified of that. Her fear was tangible, it felt real. But I also believe that it is completely normal for a 17-year-old girl to WANT to see her boyfriend, the guy that she is in love with and at that age, we all believe this is the guy we’re going to love for the rest of our lives, so hey…cut her some slack, yeah?

But was she obsessed with David – the boyfriend – throughout the book? No! She wasn’t! Once they’re transported to a camp that is right next to an area called Manzanar, it becomes more than just “seeing” or “speaking” to her boyfriend. Sure, at first, she still does some stupid things in an effort to speak to him, but then it becomes more than that. It becomes about getting in touch with someone from the OUTSIDE world to help them inside. To get their messages and stories and struggles outside. Hence the blogposts, hence the media outcry, hence the interviews! David becomes Layla’s tool to get news out to the world. That’s how she leads the revolution. That’s how she becomes the face of this revolution. And she effin’ succeeds! So it really frustrates me that there are reviews out there who are referring to Layla as an unsympathetic protagonist, or who only focus on her initial obsession with David, or who are annoyed that she shows her inner turmoil and rage by “clenching her fists” or “punching her thigh”…what do you expect her to do? She’s scared. She’s angry, but she’s also scared. She wants to help, but she’s helpless. And yet, that doesn’t stop her. Eventually that fist clench and thigh punch becomes so much more. She gets beaten and imprisoned and spat on and almost gets her parents executed, all in an effort to make a change, to stand for their cause. Again…she’s 17! And yes…a 17-year-old can and should lead the revolution. The youth are our only hope to make a change.

And how relevant is this story? Think about current events…think about past events…it’s depressing, but hell, it’s extremely plausible these days!

A reviewer put it best when she said:

“It's a future that is not only happening to some portions of people living here, but could happen to other marginalized communities of American citizens, people who have been deemed Other because their skin color, religion, citizenship status or sexuality/gender orientation didn't match the ~American Ideal.~

Hmm. That sounds weirdly like another point in history.

Oh.

Where you thinking the Nazis?

Because I was thinking something a little closer to home.

Slavery. Jim Crow. Literally everything that happened to the indigenous peoples of North America.
9/11. Guantanamo Bay. The PATRIOT Act. ICE and the detainment of illegal immigrants and people who don't "look" American (because apparently being American has a look? Who knew!). The Muslim Ban. Any Trump rally. General Islamophobia. #BlackLivesMatter. And on and on and on.”

Muslim-Americans are being hunted with this new wave of Islamophobia, and at first it might start with the little things, and as the hate increases, shootings start, at schools and mosques and communities, and then before we know it, we could end up in the same environment as Layla. Their rights are taken away from them, living on curfews, losing jobs, and suddenly they’re being transported to a camp in the middle of nowhere. Being told it’s temporary, but knowing in their hearts, that this is it, that they will live the rest of their lives and die there. Unless someone does something about it. Layla steps in.

Is there some drama involved? Of course. It’s a Young Adult book! I loved Jake, I didn’t quite know or understand why he singled her out, but I loved him. I think he saw something in her that he respected from their very first meeting on the train. The Director, who was the villain, and reminded me a lot of Snow from the Hunger Games, was a psychotic sociopath. Again, it might have been over the top, but holy hell, why not?

All of that aside, this is a really important book to read. The messages, the reality that it conveys is a reality we should start thinking and worrying and planning against. Please give it a chance. Please don’t let the negative reviewers put you off it.
Profile Image for *mk*.
433 reviews90 followers
November 23, 2018
I thought this book had a good message at an important time but would have been much better in a different writer’s hands, or perhaps if it had taken a more mature tone. I thought the writing was sometimes inspired and sometimes amateur-ish. I almost wish the book had spent more time with the how it all happened, too. The villain was so cartoonish, I wish the author had gone much more subtle with that. The teenage dialogue was stilted and immature (though this may be a personal problem; I have issues with books that throw in a bunch of pop culture references for no reason then to...make characters seem young? Seem like nerds? This is a problem I have with a lot of YA lately tho). The best way to describe this book would maybe be all bark, no bite. A little more sharpness and edge would have been helpful. Obviously this is a dark topic and there is a thin line in the book between what is happening now in the real world and what could happen in the future, but I just wish the book had a little more edge to it.
Profile Image for Sleepless Dreamer.
842 reviews199 followers
January 23, 2022
I have a great idea for a novel: a ya book about slavery but with people with disabilities. A dystopian world exactly like ours but suddenly slavery is happening again and this time, towards people with disabilities. Why? Cause they also experience discrimination nowadays, of course.

If this sounds like a bad idea that removes historical context and has great potential to minimize Black experiences while also not going really in depth into disabled people’s experiences, you can understand why Internment was not a great book. It’s baffling to me that other reviews aren’t talking about how problematic this idea is.

So, in a near future, all Muslim Americans are rounded up into internment camps. This is meant to mirror a combination of the Asian camps during WW2, the migrant detentions now and the Holocaust. Our heroine is Layla, a 17 year old desi, who is sent to one and leads a struggle against it.

I was really excited for this book because I had hoped that it would be a unique look at oppression and radicalism. I thought it would take the time to develop a realistic scenario where this could happen as well as thoroughly explain how this experience personally impacts Muslims.

But oh, this isn’t this book. I think Ahmed thought that’s what she was doing but this book is a mess.

The biggest problem of this book is the world building. In order for this book to work, Ahmed should have created something original, something that makes sense. *** Fascism *** doesn’t answer all problems. How have these Muslim Camps happened in America? Well, Nazis (yes, not joking, Nazis) have apparently gained political control. Why? No one knows. What’s the opposition? Seems to be limited to a few underground organizations. How did they do it politically? Who knows?

As a Politics student, this frustrated me. Democratic backsliding can happen, of course, but usually, fully fledged democracies (especially with a history like the US) don’t suddenly become totalitarian. So what happened? What led to this? Ahmed doesn’t say.

This information is especially missing because the characters simultaneously follow these new laws but also often oppose them publicly. It seems like Layla finds allies everywhere, including in the guards of the camp. So what do people actually think? Is this an oppressive regime or do the people support it?

Not creating a unique story also means that Ahmed is forced to rely heavily on other events. For example, she takes a lot of inspiration from the Holocaust (Muslim book burnings, giving people numbers in their forearms, banning Muslims from certain fields, etc.). This was especially frustrating because it felt like it was cheapening similar experiences. It was simultaneously not specific to Muslims but also an inaccurate echo of the Holocaust. As Layla complains about the food in her camp, I couldn’t stop thinking about my grandparents starving in a concentration camp and still, knowing that they’re the lucky ones, simply because they lived.

Worse, Layla herself keeps making the comparisons to other parts of history. Throughout the book, she compares herself to Jews, to Asian Americans, to Germans who opposed Nazis. It’s a huge cringe because in this way, Ahmed doesn’t fully address those issues. Instead, she makes them a backdrop, a prop for Layla to use.

If Ahmed had done her world building right, she wouldn’t have needed to rely so much on historical events and had been able to have her characters use accurate comparisons. For example, what if the camp had decided that halal slaughter was inhumane (i'm totally not taking inspiration from Denmark, what)? How would this impact her (meat eating) characters? What if the camp banned hijabs (coughs, France)?

This is a framework that allows us to have a genuine conversation on Layla's patriotism. How can you love a state that actively tries to destroy your lifestyle? What does Americanism mean when some are excluded? Where is any form of dialogue about this?

This is not the end of the problems with this book. The characterization was also a mess.

Layla is meant to be our amazing hero, the one we root for. But Ahmed couldn’t decide whether to raise the stakes or not. On the one hand, Layla witnesses violence that makes her pause. On the other hand, it seems like everyone is supportive of her, like the entire camp is secretly on her side. There are a lot of classic cliches here, like Layla is so special and unique and brave.

But really, my problem was with David. Oh, David. David could have been Christian, Druze, Buddhist or really, any other faith. But no. Ahmed intentionally decides to make him Jewish. And not just any Jew, as she will continue to repeat, David is a child of Yemenite refugees and Holocaust survivors. This is great for Ahmed cause he’s both “brown” and a living relic of the Holocaust.

What Ahmed proceeds to do with David’s character is make many snide remarks about how he, as a Jew is obligated to be the first to stand up to oppression. This is unfair and far too commonly seen. Jews don’t owe the world moral superiority. Not to mentions that if these were actual Nazis, David would not be doing so well.

There’s also a little bit of a tendency to highlight David’s Yemenite ancestry while casting David’s father, the Ashkenazi, as a villain, as self centered. If this book was written by a Jew, I might have been less sensitive to this but as it stands, it seems to me like the classic American leftist “white bad, brown good”. This isn’t quite how we see ourselves. Jews, all Jews, are one people and hey, it’s commonly accepted that Ashkenazis are the traumatized ones like pfft, we win Jewish oppression olympics (especially if we consider USSR Jews Ashkenazi).

David’s characterization, to me, ties in with the biggest problem in this book. Ahmed came to educate us. Now, this isn’t a bad thing but the way she goes about it just doesn’t work. There’s a moment where a male Muslim character says that a woman who wears the hijab is oppressed. Besides how weird it is for a Muslim to say this, this sentence seems to be build precisely in order for Ahmed to write a monologue about strong hijabis. It is afterwards, unsurprising that this is the character who betrays them. This is one example of the many times Ahmed is trying to scream at us “THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO TAKE FROM THIS BOOK”.

There is more to say but I also very much have to study. I wish this book was better as I really did spend a lot of time looking forward to it.

What i'm taking with me
- nope, no, nope, it’s a bit rare if the house and the senate have the same party but that’s not a dictatorship, it's just a unified house. pls, don’t just spew random ideas in lieu of an explanation. you're making Politics majors cry.
- have i outgrown ya?? like, is that the problem here?
- not that relevant but i know so many people who are partly Ashkenazi and partly Mizrahi and guess what, many of them are very much white passing. The Middle East is ethnically diverse and doesn’t play by the American racial laws.
- I hope I'm not overstepping here but I would have also liked to see more of a conversation on inner Muslim issues. I spend way too much time on douchebag Muslim guy tiktok where it is painfully clear that there are some tensions, like the perception that women aren't doing enough for their modesty or the tension between liberal ideas and religion.
-How can it possibly be that they were allowed to study Quran in that camp???

----------------------------------

Welcome to Samira Ahmed’s world, where Arabs and Ashkenazi Jews are white but Yemenite Jews are brown.

Don't worry, if you forget, she will remind you, again and again. The Jewish character has brown skin, look at his brown skin, he is brown. A Jew who is brown.

This is the tip of the iceberg of what’s wrong with this book. Review to come!
Profile Image for nivedha.
138 reviews69 followers
November 18, 2020
rtc when i'm not furiously covering for a far-too-relaxed group partner.
---
i did not like internment very much. i understand the point the author was trying to make, but it just felt too rushed to me. the characters were bland and boring, and the plot was predictable and old.
layla, the protagonist, was one-dimensional. does she feel any emotion other than anger? she's reckless and foolish, and doesn't consider the safety of people around her. sure, starting a revolution is important, but not once does she consider that you need to be alive to, y'know, do anything. she literally endangered the internees in the camp to make out with her boyfriend.
oh, and speaking of her boyfriend—he has no personality. heck, he wasn't even there most of the book. the director was a cardboard cutout villain. the only thing he needs now is a green-eyed cat to stroke. honestly, a cat would make the novel more bearable.
the plot is...entirely predictable. it reads like a cheesy action movie, and it's pretty boring. i feel like i've read this story a million times before. the ending was rushed like the rest of the novel tbh.
i understand the point the author was trying to make, but it was not executed well. the concepts were delivered in a heavy-handed way, and they were usually brushed away in favor of another dramatic scene straight out of a movie.
altogether, this was a very average novel that fell short of my expectations. huh, that last line sounded like my parents talking about me LMAO. i recommend it to people who like being bored.
Profile Image for laurel [the suspected bibliophile].
1,328 reviews352 followers
March 20, 2019
When the president's new Exclusion Act sends American-Muslims into "camps," Layla decides that enough is enough. She's going to fight back. No matter what the cost.

Four years ago, this book's premise would be ridiculous. Over the top. No way in hell would America ever lock its own citizens into concentration camps "for their protection and for the protection of the country." Never again.

Fast forward to today.

Not only is this an entirely plausible scenario,, it's also one that has happened, in some degree, to immigrants and people who entered into the country illegally (or whose visa expired).

It's a future that is not only happening to some portions of people living here, but could happen to other marginalized communities of American citizens, people who have been deemed Other because their skin color, religion, citizenship status or sexuality/gender orientation didn't match the ~American Ideal.~

Hmm. That sounds weirdly like another point in history.

Oh.

Where you thinking the Nazis?

Because I was thinking something a little closer to home.

Slavery. Jim Crow. Literally everything that happened to the indigenous peoples of North America. Executive Order 9066. The blacklisting of gay, communist, or non-Christians during the McCarthy era (in addition to rampant racial discrimination. Ahhh the 50s. Such a wonderful time).

Too far into the past?

DOMA. 9/11. Guantanamo Bay. The PATRIOT Act. ICE and the detainment of illegal immigrants and people who don't "look" American (because apparently being American has a look? Who knew!). The Muslim Ban. Any Trump rally. The Religious Freedom Acts being pushed through various state court systems, affecting the LGBTQIA community and other marginalized communities. General Islamophobia. #BlackLivesMatter. The military's reinstated transgender ban. And on and on and on.

Oh, am I reaching? These things aren't so bad?

Talk to the people being impacted by these various actions.

Anywho.

Enough real-time talk. Let's talk about this book.

It was fantastic.

This book takes the nation's current temperature on Islamophobia and brings it to its worst case (hell, this is like, third not worst case, let's be honest) conclusion—the president has drawn so much power onto himself and spun up white America into such a frenzy about the dangers of Muslims as the Other that over the course of two years things go from bad to worse as rights are slowly removed from Muslim-Americans.

It plays out very, very similarly to the fate of the Jews during the Nazi regime. Small things go first. Hate acts increase. Then bigger things are taken away. Other rights are removed from the general population—more surveillance, more security, more restrictions—for everyone's protection because we're at war. Laws are passed authorizing what would in normal days be considered illegal as hell. Then the restrictions against the targeted population get bigger. Fear and hatred rises as the othering spikes. And then the real restrictions begin. Curfews. Job loss. Pulling kids from school. And on and on until the disappearances begin. And then continue until Muslim immigrants and those with work visas are removed from the country or locked into detainment centers. And Muslim-American citizens are snatched away in the middle of the night to be relocated to a camp that's literally right next door to Manzanar.

Coincidentally, events like these have happened in similar extents across America (and hell, in our territories and the places we have occupied).

This book is literally Fascism 101.

However, the message of the story is that peaceful resistance is hard. It is difficult. You will put your life and the lives of your loved ones at risk.

But peaceful resistance is better than silence and compliance.

And resistance is worthless without being publicized and broadcast.

To conclude another ridiculously long review that few people will read, I did like that Layla had help from one of the guards—one who became many—showing that members of the military aren't automatons but are trained in ethics and what constitutes a lawful order. And how to legally disobey lawful orders. Trust me. Officers get a whole class on this because it's such a big deal. However, the disobedience of some of the guards and their kind treatment towards some of the detainees didn't erase their overall complicity (because they didn't act out until Layla was at risk—never mind the others who went missing in the night or the three women who were brutally beaten in front of everyone).

I was a little wtf over how Layla became the face of it all and the target of the Director's wrath and Jake's fascination, when it should have been towards Soheil or any of the other protestors. It felt weird that right from the beginning she was singled out by Jake...why her? Why not anyone else?

Anywho, concluding for real: this is a must read.

It is both warning and prophecy, a Handmaid's Tale dystopia that is shockingly plausible, particularly in the current political climate, and for some people it's already happening.

Remember folks, when it comes to fascism, silence is consent.

I received this ARC from NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews264 followers
May 18, 2021
what a waste of ten hours (or 3.33 hours, for me) since i only read audiobooks on 3x speed 😎

this honestly feels like a disservice to the very real history of internment camps everywhere? i mean, don't worry about trying to survive when you have a hottie guard looking out for you that you can scream at and he will just be like "i'm so sorry bb let me get you a burner phone to call your boyfriend"

there were so many things about this book that made me mad and/or frustrated, so i'm just going to compose a list real quick:
- as stated in the top review for this novel, i found that the interesting premise was squandered behind insipid writing
- the fact that this book is young adult... shows... and i say this as a teen who LOVES young adult. despite the heavy content, this feels solidly nestled in the younger section of young adult. i do not like younger adult. personally, i think we should get rid of that section of the genre entirely
- i am looking in my notes app and the words i used were "the writing is actually just so. BAD!!!!!! SO BAD !!!!!" and i stand by that
- subtlety? haven't heard of her
- the villains are incredibly cartoonish. this coupled with the naïveté of the main character serves to provide a plot substantiated with nothing. she faces no real consequences for her brash actions, while some of her friends actually die. the director of the camp is constantly threatening her and warning her, and never once did i genuinely fear for her life
- first of all, her relationship with her boyfriend is way too underdeveloped for it to be a main driving force of this novel
- our main character loves to put others in danger just so she can text her boyfriend!!! girl, some people just want to live ❤️
- LAYLA, YOU DO NOT DESERVE THE KISS KISS
- also, her boyfriend is an ashkenazi jew, and he suggests for her family to possibly betray the other members of the community by helping, and she's like HOW DARE YOU & there develops a sort of a distance between them because, although not directly said, it's implied that he doesn't really understand her experience and i was just like 👁👄👁
- interesting that the jewish boyfriend is being so unrealistic about her experience... when the holocaust was a REAL LIFE THING THAT HAPPENED and this DID NOT (by that i mean this is an entirely fictionalized event)
- also there is literally emotional cheating with the guard!!!! but of course
- i want to bring this back to the main character because in the beginning of the novel she actually screams at a guard. like thank god it's the guard who's super different from the other guard and who also is attracted to her (and is also SUPER ATTRACTIVE. his tattoo is mentioned like 293 times.) because she probably would have died if it was anyone else.
- seriously she faces no consequences for her actions and i was just in awe... you'd think that for someone constantly praised for being brave, there would be the possibility of death. but there is no possibility of death for her. she is the Main Character, someone who still manages to keep her snark and sarcastic wit, who can talk back to the director without getting killed. meanwhile other people are getting tortured for less???
- also there's only one very very briefly mentioned gay couple and it is implied that they die. so. okay............
- just, in general, the deaths of other people feel so meaningless? i feel as though this novel attempted to bring us to care about them, but it did not work
- i mean, this book in general seemed to rely on shock value a lot which didn't really work!! because again this is a wholly fictionalized event!! and this internment camp just doesn't seem realistic at all.
- and furthermore those characters that act as martyrs weren't developed in any profound kind of way
- finally, to conclude, this novel overall also feels very US centric because like... actual muslims are being put into concentration camps in other countries... and yet this is framed as a very shocking dystopia... hmmm

it's just very sad because this was one of my most anticipated novels of 2019, but is currently one of my least favorite novels of 2021.

also if any of my points are a Big Reach (i am specifically referring to the us-centric part as well as the part where it feels weird that her boyfriend is jewish and yet seems to somehow not understand the main character) then i am down to have a conversation about it because i'm not like... 100% educated on these topics. it just felt WEIRD tho

rep: desi mc, jewish biracial brown love interest, desi cast
trigger/content warnings:
Profile Image for Justine.
1,103 reviews294 followers
June 15, 2019
3.5 stars

This book is set 15 minutes in the future, but it feels like it's happening right now. It's a frightening yet realistic look at the path America is on and what that potentially means for Muslim Americans and other non-Christian and/or non-white people.

The migrant workers and immigrants whose status is currently coming under scrutiny and fire, and their horrific treatment by the current administration shows the camp imagined in Internment already effectively exists in the United States. I would say that the children and families who have been forcibly separated, held in custody, and often deported by the US government are suffering much more than the characters in this book, which is a pretty horrible thing to contemplate.

The story here is good, it is current, and it is engaging. I hope it opens a few eyes. My only real criticism (which did bring my rating down slightly) is that the camp Director was awful to the point of being a caricature of himself. It's easy to hate a cartoon villain. Much more dangerous is the facist/racist who takes a subtler approach, able to make the outrageous seem reasonable and justified. If the Director had been written that way, the story would have had a more complex feel to it. That said, it's still a book with an important message.

When facism comes to America, it will come draped in the flag.
Profile Image for Kassie.
394 reviews474 followers
April 13, 2019
A POWERFUL read. This book set my anxiety on high during the first 2/3-3/4. Samira Ahmed illustrates clearly how today’s America could become this dystopian and it was terrifying.

I knocked a star off because the ending felt a little too easy, a little too clean. It was jarring how wuickly we went from this horrifying reality to the fix.

Still a highly recommended read, and i can’t wait to discuss at the end of April on my channel for Sassy Book Club.
Author 10 books628 followers
October 12, 2018
I was lucky enough to receive an advance review copy of this book, and what can I say, this is a must read. Even if the book is incredibly hard to read at times it is meant to start conversations about the state of our country and what we can do to be the America we need to be.
Profile Image for Librariann.
1,423 reviews45 followers
December 13, 2018
Okay, listen. I wanted to like this book, and I did plow through it, but the initial conceit required SO MUCH suspension of disbelief as portrayed in this book that I just could not. Do I think it's possible that America could detain Muslims based only on their religion? Absolutely. However, would they do it in THIS particular fashion? COULD NOT BUY.

- Single camp established as a "model," includes ENTIRE FAMILIES of people, from toddlers through teens.
- No real assessment of what criteria was used to assign Muslim families to the camp. Dad is a...revolutionary poet? That's kind of it. Did they just round up all the Muslims in a certain geographic proximity to Mobius? Did I miss something?
- Director is one note purple lipped baddie.
- Motivation behind soldier helping is never explained. (Does Layla have beer flavored nipples or something?)
- Motivation behind many, many, many other things is never explained, pretty much all falling under "PRESIDENT THINKS MUSLIMS ARE BAD, NOW THIS HAPPENS."

Look, I haven't read anything else by Ahmed, and it seems like she's perfectly competent at writing contemporary teen characters (even if lots of the secondary characters are pretty one-note). Layla's kind of a mix between Katniss and Starr from THUG, but she has some of her own charms. But it doesn't change the fact that Ahmed's overall worldbuilding is JUNK. I'll be interested in seeing what the reviews say.
August 2, 2021
Wow! Why haven't I read this book before?? It was so good but also such a hard hitting contemporary!(:
Review time!
Internment by samira ahmed was a book I had on my shelf for awhile now ever since it came out! I wasn't really intrested in this one for a hot minuet until it got picked out of my tbr jar for July. This book was so hard to put down it was a fast pace and very hard hitting novel. This deals with our main character layla who one day she's hanging out with her boyfriend at their house and the next day she hears these cops coming in and telling them to pack up and go to this internment camp...
So while she's at this camp it was a very detialed writing. I pictured everything from page one to the end. Espcially with that ending! Omg! My heart broke for the characters in this story! There was one character that I didn't know if we should trust or not but I found out I really liked him. Such a great book I beilive this her debut novel and if so wow!
Profile Image for Rachel Polacek.
508 reviews9 followers
April 4, 2019
I was hooked on Internment from the very beginning, and I couldn’t stop reading. However, this book was hard to read because it felt so realistic — set “fifteen minutes in the future,” it’s scary to think what people in power can do out of fear.
Profile Image for Colin.
703 reviews79 followers
November 12, 2019
TOTAL READING TIME: 4 hours, 34 minutes.

Wow. That was... Jesus Christ, that was intense.

A book I found this to be similar to was Mark Oshiro's Anger is a Gift. Both explore current, real-life issues--Islamophobia in the Trump era and police brutality against Black Americans, respectively. Both also have slight elements of science fiction--Anger is a Gift features militaristic weapons (that sounded futuristic in my opinion but for all I know could be real weapons that aren't being used yet) and Internment had a dystopian feel to it even though Islamophobia in America already very much exists. Both are also graphic in its depictions of violence and trauma and should be read at one's own risk. This book does not sanitize its depictions of violence, both physical and verbal, against its marginalized characters.

I can definitely say I enjoyed this (I'm saying enjoyed loosely, for lack of a better word because this book absolutely horrified me) way more than Ahmed's previous book, Love, Hate and Other Filters. This book induced so much anxiety in me that I felt my palms start to sweat almost the entire time I was reading it, yet I had a hard time putting it down. It was hard to stomach the violence and the hatred depicted in it but I kept turning the pages, unable to wait to see what would happen next. Taking this into consideration, this book's biggest strength for me was its ability to draw me in and keep me interested.

With that said, though, I couldn't help but notice this book's lack of subtlety (although as I'm writing this now this might have been intentional). The entire premise of the book is that the newly-elected 'President' of the United States--who was an obvious allusion to Trump; there are direct references, quotes, and paraphrases throughout the story that have been uttered by him and his staff in real life, e.g. 'fake news', TV ratings being important, etc. although his name is never mentioned--has ordered internment camps for Muslim Americans after a recent census. Some managed to move away before things got worse, others were deported, and the remaining ones, like Layla's family, are shunned and are now being dragged to the first Muslim internment camp that was opened, at the beginning of the story.

This entire book was a very obvious, 386-page reference to Islamophobia in the United States during the Trump era, but imagined to have escalated. Never mind the fact that Japanese-Americans during World War II have already experienced this, as well as asylum seekers from Latin America at the southern border right now. The sentiments about racism, Islamophobia, and bigotry felt a bit too in-your-face especially as they're part of dialogues between teenagers. While the inclusion of morals in a story like this is obviously important, it takes me out of the story when it's not done naturally and the author's own voice shows too much--it felt like I was reading tweets by activists on Twitter rather than a story with fictional characters. My main problem with its overall lack of subtlety is that it almost read like a really long case study in an exam question.

I didn't have a problem with the portrayal of the romance between Layla and her boyfriend David (who's Jewish and was not in the camp with her) as much as apparently a lot of other people did. I understood that Layla was a naive teenage girl and her relationship was the most important thing she couldn't bring with her when she was dragged into the camp, so I kind of got why she was so desperate to see and talk to David when she first got there. However, I was very confused with the emphasis given to David and their relationship in the first half of the story when David and his relevance to the story basically disappear in the second half. Ultimately it did feel like their relationship was out of place and irrelevant to the story.

I also found it hard to suspend my disbelief about some of the events in this book, especially towards the end. I agree with one reviewer on here that The Director felt very cartoonish--he was rash and emotional, and I personally would have had an easier time believing a villain, in charge of running an entire internment camp, if they had a calmer demeanour, especially because it was the Director's emotional reactions that led to events in the tail end of the story that felt unrealistic.

I'm still unsure of how to feel about Corporal Jake Reynolds and his purpose in the story. I was on the fence about depicting an 'ally' who was essentially working for the oppressor, even though he genuinely sympathized with and was helping the internees in some way. I didn't agree with Ahmed's decision to ultimately depict the US military as 'the good guys', some of whose members might not agree with the current administration's fascist policies because I feel like it's disingenuous to do so. The military is a tool of oppression by the United States government against other countries and depicting them as 'good' to reinforce the idea that they're only being patriotic--to a country that has terrorized numerous others for its own gain--just felt uncomfortable.

Overall, this book wasn't... perfect. It had its flaws; it's not the next The Hate U Give in terms of quality and execution, but if you're somehow ignorant of the plight of Muslims in America specifically under the Trump era and its policies and you think it would help you understand if you read a Young Adult book about it, you might benefit from reading Internment. It is traumatic and hard to stomach at times so make sure that you're in the right headspace to read this book.

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I love how this is a comeback to the mess that is American Heart. LMFAOOOOOOO.
Profile Image for Enne.
718 reviews113 followers
June 14, 2019
”America is built on life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. All those things have been ripped away from us, and I believe that every American who came before us, who stood up to oppression, who fought to guarantee our right to religious freedom, is looking down on us and telling us to rise up, to speak out, to shout our names to the world. We stand on the shoulders of giants. We are Americans. We make America great. This is our country. And we're taking it back.”


4 stars
TW: Islamophobia (challenged in text), slurs, displacement, internment camp, violence, torture, electrocution, guns, death
Rep: Muslim MC, multiple Muslim SCs


The Writing
The writing is unbelievable. The style is raw and honest and though fairly simple at times, it packs a punch that feels very fitting for this book. The main character's voice is well developed and filled to the brim with anger and exhaustion and I thought that felt very authentic as well.

The Plot/Pacing
This book is a story of oppression taken to the next level. This book is a story of history repeating itself because America forgot it, because history is "destined" to repeat itself. This book is a story of resistance and people standing up for themselves, people standing up for others, people standing up together because that's the only way to fight oppression. At its heart, the plot is mainly about the injustices experienced by Layla at this concentration camp that she and her family are sent to. It explores how fear of people who are different from you can ultimately lead to devastating consequences and how that's something that needs to be fought against and I thought the message was very well-structured and fit well within the story.

The Characters
Layla is spirited and angry and tired, so tired of the world telling her that she doesn't belong and I found myself able to sympathize with all of that so much. I thought Layla's character was extremely well written and her character development was really well done. My one qualm with this book is that I wish the side characters would have been developed a bit more because it feels like they were just used as instruments for Layla's story and I would have liked to have gotten to know them better.

Overall
This is a book that is extremely necessary in today's political climate, especially in the USA. It's a book that needs to be heard and a book that I could see making waves in the near future because, really, it's what she deserves. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
Profile Image for kate.
1,078 reviews915 followers
May 16, 2020
Powerful, moving and chilling to the bone.

A brilliantly written story of resistance, hope, the strength of teens and the power of fighting for you right to live.

The opening chapter was like a sucker punch to the gut. I physically flinched numerous time throughout the book, which is something I rarely do but the most terrifying this about this book? It should have felt fictional, like some way of dystopian but instead, it was all too real. This kind of scenario shouldn't be happening but it is, all over the US and the world and stories like this are all the more haunting and important because of it.
Profile Image for Lou (nonfiction fiend).
2,771 reviews1,624 followers
March 7, 2019
Internment is a timely and politically urgent young adult novel which explores life as Muslim-American in the not too distant future. It's an all too real tale of division and hurt between communities but also hope. Islamophobia and racism are at the heart of it all, and I think the reason it's been causing such a stir is because people realise that it isn't too far from becoming our reality. This is a stark warning, a call to action, and an order to stand up, be counted and resist the bigotry, racism, xenophobia and corruption simmering below the surface.

It's an intense, authentic tale of hope and resistance with a compelling and wholly engaging narrative. You can tell that Ahmed Is passionate about these topical issues and it really packs a punch with its messages and encouragement. In fact, part of the narrative is playing out right now in the US with the use of intern camps. It's a very clever way of informing and mobilising youngsters - using fiction as a device to spread the word about what could happen if we're not careful. The author has used her status as a bestseller to impart some important messages. Highly recommended.

Many thanks to Atom for an ARC.
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