“Detention Land” by Susan Orion (ARC Review) | Trapped In A Room Of Genius Delinquent Boys, Ginger Ale, And A Whole Lotta Farting

Some people say the Messiah is coming; I say, I am already here.

Warning: This book contains copious amounts of farting. And ginger ale.

Seriously. Judging from the copious amount of times ginger ale is mentioned, I can deduce one of three things:

a) the author really, really, REALLY likes ginger ale,

b) ginger ale is somehow a very profound motif meant to represent the meaning of life, or

c) the author is secretly conspiring with/sponsoring every ginger ale company in the world.

 dylan obrien ginger ale what do you prefer GIF

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Synopsis

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Release date: November 6, 2017
Genre: Middle Grade

 

This ain’t no ordinary high school. Trapped in a room of clever lies, unlikely confessions, and a whole lotta lip, the only way to escape is by uncovering the truth. Four walls, two voices, one chance. Who is the woman behind the wall? Solve the puzzle. Save the boy. This is Detention Land.

With access to Roger’s private journals, the reader is transported into the detention room, watching as it unravels, brick by brick, piece by piece. Inspired by true events, Detention Land is a contemporary classic that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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Rating: 2 stars.

I can declare without a trace of hesitation that this was the strangest book I’ve read all this year. And that’s saying a lot, because at one point I read about flying squirrels.

Roger is a troubled teenager whose mischievous– and often borderline insane– antics constantly land him inside detention the school equivalent of maximum-security prison.

Though he comes off as cocky, rude, and self-pitying (not to mention a whole host of other very unflattering characteristics), Roger is not necessarily unlikeable, but rather decidedly different. Despite his seemingly misanthropic views, Roger undeniably has the mind of dreamer. And I’ve got to say, I admire his… confidence?

Even as a kid, I knew I came into this world with a noble purpose: to rid the world of mediocrity. People ask for miracles all the time and when they are blessed with benediction, they turn their heads away without the slightest recognition of the awesomeness set before them.

Our benevolent protagonist lights his sister’s lunchpail on fire, (arguably) draws his poor teacher naked, steals that same teacher’s lunch, cheats in a science fair competition– the list can just go on and on.

But no matter how much trouble he stirs up, he manages to victimize himself every single time. Quite a remarkable feat, if you ask me.

All things considered, calling him merely a “problem child” would be a major understatement.

Unlike everyone else who starts the transition at around age twelve and normalizes around age eighteen, I started my awkward phase straight out of my mother’s womb. So yeah, I was an ugly baby and yes, an even uglier child, but that can mean only one thing (and this is my point of redemption): I am going to be the first one in my class to go from ugly duckling to beautiful swan. Everyone will be jealous.

Roger narrates everything in his signature sarcastic tone, and his arrogance and dry humor make for a quite entertaining narrative voice that made me LOL a few times. (Particularly when he compared mackerel to a man-boob. And when he mentioned that his school principal, for whatever reason, had vampire memorabilia plastered all over her office walls.)

There was just one little problem: I was a bit confused as to what was happening. No, confused isn’t the right word.

I was absolutely flabbergasted.

The plot moved at a snail’s pace. In fact, there wasn’t much of a plot at all. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I took forever to finish reading this. I probably finished it over the course of a few months, when in reality it should have taken me less than a day.

It doesn’t help that the protagonist spends probably 70% of the book simply talking. Most of it is Roger waxing on and on, both out loud and in his thoughts– contemplating life, rambling on about the moronic nature of humanity, and generally extolling his apparently sky-high IQ.

Though initially amusing, I soon tired of Roger’s random passionate tirades. When a book consists almost entirely of long speeches and dramatic inner monologues, it’s incredibly tempting to either start skimming or throw the book against the wall in frustration.

I understand that this is a book that tries to raise awareness and acceptance of students with disabilities, and perhaps I’m just being daft– but I could not for the life of me understand what was happening. I’m honestly sorry, but I can’t seem to find any message in this– and if there was one, it didn’t make much sense.

(On that note, I still have no clue whether the injustices the child endured were all figments of his imagination, or blown-up versions of his own distorted reality, or whether everyone really was that terrible to him.)

It is a very unique tale, to be sure, just not the tale for me.

I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All quotes above are subject to change upon publication.

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Some Quotes That Made Me Very, Very Confused

  • “The voice demanded in a feminine but stern way, a combination that Roger found intriguing.”
  • “He couldn’t commit suicide, however, since he knew that corpses crap themselves and that would be even more embarrassing than tooting in front of an intercom.”
  • “You don’t feel shame for anything you did? You drew Mr. Winkler half naked with permanent marker,” the voice scolded.”

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yours,

hannapotamus

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21 thoughts on ““Detention Land” by Susan Orion (ARC Review) | Trapped In A Room Of Genius Delinquent Boys, Ginger Ale, And A Whole Lotta Farting

  1. This sounds… interesting … although, it actually does!

    I do love your review though ❤

    (also, I think what he means by that quote “He couldn’t commit suicide, however, since he knew that corpses crap themselves and that would be even more embarrassing than tooting in front of an intercom.” In Nevernight, actually, the first paragraph says

    “People often shit themselves when they die. Their muscles slack and their souls flutter free and everything else just…slips out.”

    I think it’s something to do with the muscles no longer working… just trying to give a “fun” fact. #fail)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. hehe, thank you so much~! and yep, this was definitely a… ah, unique read :’)

      and WOW that’s actually really interesting!! (okay wait it’s more morbid than interesting… but still, SUPER COOL.) I truly learn new things every day :0 also that reminds me I gotta read never night soon

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Fascinating review. What made you decide to request this book in the first place, Hannah? Honestly, I would have avoided it based on the synopsis, but to each their own!

    Based on the quotes you’ve included, I can tell I would struggle with the narration style. Roger is supposed to be a high school student? Yet his voice sounds like that of a 30-something man. That’s a bit disjointed for me.

    I’m sorry this fell flat for you! I hope your next book is a winner.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m not sure, I think I was in a MG sort of mood and for some reason, this intrigued me!!

      And oh my goodness, now that you point it out, his narrative voice really IS uncomfortably disjointed from his supposed level of maturity. This book was just very very confusing.

      I think the author was trying to raise awareness of students with disabilities, but unfortunately the message came off as super unclear (if there even was a message at all!!) :/

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s disappointing. So, a quick glance at Susan Orion’s website shows that this is a debut book, and she is a PhD Candidate for Educational Psychology and Special Education. So… my guess is that you’re right that she is trying to raise awareness… but execution was off. I hope that her writing improves over time; it seems like she is the right kind of person to be writing these stories!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hm, I suspected that!!

        I really do commend the author for tackling such an important issue that *needs* to be addressed; it’s just too bad that I personally didn’t care for her writing. :’) And yep, I wish her the best of luck! I feel like I should have been less brutal with my review? 😅

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Nah. It’s your review! You write about what connected and resonated with you, or what did not. That’s the whole point! You’re helping your readers identify what books are worth their time. After all, how on earth can we be expected to read all these books?!

        Liked by 1 person

      4. This is where the line must be drawn between nice and good. You can be nice if you want, but at some point someone will say something negative about anything. It’s better to be good — fair to yourself and your readership– than to be nice. Honesty can be brutal, but that’s part of accepting the truth.

        That said, this review isn’t *that* bad! It’s just not your cuppa– and that’s okay too. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Aw, thanks!! ❤ I know a lot of reviewers struggle with balancing between honesty and politeness, especially with ARCs. It's always good once in a while to remind yourself that your opinion is *your* opinion, and you should be proud of it!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Hannah ♥️ you made this book sound intriguing and totally outrageous at the same time…? 😂 I Think I have this book to read too, but I don’t remember that blurb or the cover… but yup my list says I’m to read it… Do I have to? LOL I kid you not I do not need a book that will take me months to read… 😭 EXCELLENT REVIEW though… you’ve truly scared me… 😬

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The book is definitely very… unique. Tbh, I think the extensive period of time it took to finish can be mostly attributed to my pure laziness. :’) I just didn’t have the energy nor the effort to read about another one of Roger’s long self-victimizing speeches?? But anyways, GOOD LUCK. ❤ I hope I haven't scared you too much??

      Liked by 1 person

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