Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book review - Watched

Title: Watched
Author: Marina Budhos
Genre: realistic fiction
Similar books: Bright Lights, Dark Nights by Stephen Emond
                     Borderline by Allan Stratton
an interesting approach

Summary (provided by publisher): Marina Budhos's extraordinary and timely novel examines what it's like to grow up under surveillance, something many Americans experience and most Muslim Americans know.
Naeem is far from the “model teen.” Moving fast in his immigrant neighborhood in Queens is the only way he can outrun the eyes of his hardworking Bangladeshi parents and their gossipy neighbors. Even worse, they're not the only ones watching. Cameras on poles. Mosques infiltrated. Everyone knows: Be careful what you say and who you say it to. Anyone might be a watcher.
Naeem thinks he can charm his way through anything, until his mistakes catch up with him and the cops offer a dark deal. Naeem sees a way to be a hero—a protector—like the guys in his brother's comic books. Yet what is a hero? What is a traitor? And where does Naeem belong?
Acclaimed author Marina Budhos delivers a riveting story that's as vivid and involving as today's headlines.

My opinion: Given the cover and the description I was expecting something in the realm of a thriller - governmental conspiracy and profiling. Free citizens who are anything but. These elements are present but to a much smaller degree than I had anticipated. It makes a difference that the protagonist is the one doing the watching. He's been intimidated into informing but he finds that he likes it. the real focus of this novel is on loyalty - to country, to family, to culture. It raises some concerning issues about our government's hunt for terrorists but doesn't dig into them very deeply. I wasn't thrilled by the ending which sort of petered out instead of anything sharp or dramatic. It raises some fascinating points but isn't overly compelling.
Advanced reader copy provided by NetGalley.

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