Nose Graze

Prison Nation

Prison Nation - Jenni Merritt BookNook — Young Adult book reviewsI really wanted to enjoy this book because I love the idea of it, but I just kept waiting for that moment when it would get good, and it never came. It wasn't really horrible, but it never got interesting; it never piqued my interest; and I never felt invested in the story or characters.In some ways, I feel like nothing really happened in Prison Nation. The plot is exactly as you would expect it to be with no surprises, no twists, no turns, and no exciting climax. Prison Nation was missing that extra element that would have made it an interesting and engaging book. The whole time while reading, I was struggling to figure out the story. In some ways, I had no idea where it was headed, just because it was only ever following the route I expected it to take. I kept waiting for that moment where I would be surprised and excited and engaged, but it never came. So I was constantly just sitting there a little puzzled and confused by the book.None of the characters in Prison Nation stood out to me. Millie was… a little dull. I suppose that's always a problem when the main character is raised to be a brainwashed cookie cutter who never questions the Nation. She does have her redeeming moment at the end, but I think it was just too little too late. For 95% of the book, Millie read a bit like an emotionless robot. She lived her life, she went through the motions, she never questioned the Nation (until the very end), and it just made reading a little dull.And the love interest was really forced; it was definitely a case of insta-love. Millie knows Reed for two weeks, they go on one date (which wasn't even supposed to be a date—I'm being generous by calling it that), and we read like two of their conversations, and then Reed is saying things like this:"I need you, Millie. I am falling in love with you, and I can't lose you now."—Prison Nation, Page 227"If I had to live without you, Millie. If for some reason you were gone… I would never have to think twice. I would miss you with every fiber of who I am."—Prison Nation, Page 236The only character who really interested me was Orrin, and he only has a few lines in the whole book (all of which were notes written on paper). He was a sweet, caring, wise father figure—the kind that dishes out excellent advice that makes you think. Given the limitations of Orrin's dialogue in the book, it's quite impressive that he's the most interesting character in the book. It's just a shame that the rest of the characters didn't have that same level of depth.Overall, I didn't despise Prison Nation, it just never interested me. There were also a few unanswered questions that really annoyed me. Millie constantly refers to some sort of "fog" taking over her mind and making her glaze over. It almost sounds like some sort of Novocain, but it's never ever explained. Two other characters refer to this "fog", but we never actually find out what the heck it is. There isn't even a promise that it will be addressed in book two, so it just left me a bit frustrated and confused.There certainly is an interesting story here in Prison Nation, but I don't think it was executed very well. It's missing that extra layer of depth and excitement that will really rope you in as a reader.

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