*I received a complimentary copy of this book, and I’m leaving a voluntary review*
Plot: In short: A boy grows up to be a correctional officer. Take it upon himself to rebrand the criminal justice system.
The longer version: Emil Sorn grows up admiring his dad and hating his mother. His dad works in Larsan State Prison and Emil can only hope that when his father comes home each night, he’s had a good day at work and wants to spend time with him. Emil does not go along well with his mother, and they often fight or argue.
So when Emil’s father dies in a prison commotion, his world comes crashing down. Him and his mother grow more apart, and as Emil becomes older he starts studying to become a correctional officer himself.
Eventually he’s employed at the same place his father had previously worked and died – Larsan State Prison. And relatively shortly after having started working there, he learns the harsh truth about his father. Emil becomes bitter, and decides to put all his effort into becoming the best correctional officer he can be, and making Larsan the best prison there is. He quickly rise through the ranks, becomes feared and respected amongst officers and inmates alike, and even has the warden in the palm of his hands.
But then he takes it too far. Emil is about to cross a line about the way he runs his prison, and treats his inmates, a line from which he can’t turn back. Suddenly Emil Sorn is quickly on his way to becoming the worst person in Larsan State Prison.
This book was amazing, and if I had time I would probably have read it all in a day or two (unfortunately I’ve been so busy lately, this has been one of the books I’ve spent the longest on finishing recently). It gripped me instantly. There’s a great pace to this book, that just constantly keeps you going. It’s all about Emil, from when he’s little and following him constantly through his life, and it’s something I realized I haven’t seen in a while. I feel like everyone nowadays (myself included), write books with a myriad of POVs, where the story jumps from place to place, and then suddenly there’s a hidden villains hidden agenda at a hidden place, and you don’t understand anything.
But not this book. It’s pretty linear, with few POVs (or at least, whatever different POVs there are, they are all centered at around the same thing and place). And I loved it. It was brilliantly executed, made it easy to follow, but also made it incredibly interesting to read. I always knew that I’d be getting more and more of what I wanted if I just kept reading, instead of fearing that I’d be thrown off into some other part of a side plot if I turned the page. Because that’s kind of the worst thing, when there’s a book you love, but it has a side plot that you absolutely hate (looking at you Bran Stark, crawling through snow doing nothing constantly).
Anyways – as Emil works his way through becoming a great correctional officer, he does some questionable things. But (at least in my case), your rooting for him. At least in the beginning. Keep in mind that the people he work with are hardened criminals, murderers and rapists. There’s no way Emil can be the bad guy?
Or is there? Like I mentioned above, Emil takes it too far, and eventually you realize that the story is being turned around and Emil is sitting on the wrong side of the table. And it’s magnificent.
I always love a bad guy story. Whenever I can I cheer for the evil guy to win, if I was given the One Ring, I wouldn’t be humble like Gandalf and refuse it because I couldn’t be trusted with it, I wouldn’t even act like Boromir and pretend that I could do good with it, I would straight up do the Dark Lord’s bidding – no questions asked. So I was kind of always rooting for Emil, even when his morals shifted. I was hoping maybe the ending would be slightly different, but without spoiling anything – I can’t really say why. But I always felt like Emil justified what he was doing, and more importantly that his justification was good. Even though he’s terrible. (I feel like maybe I need small disclaimer here – I am not evil.)
It’s weird how interesting a prison story can be. A prison is a sort of stage, that can make any story – no matter how unrelatable – feel exactly the same. So if you like Prison Break, Orange is the New Black, Shawshank Redemption, Escape from Alcatraz, anything that’s even remotely set or linked to a prison – I think you’ll enjoy this.
If not – maybe you like it for the simple fact that it’s a bloody great book!