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Jun 27, 2023KatTheGreat rated this title 4.5 out of 5 stars
Chain-Gang All-Stars is a viscerally brutal critique of the correctional system. In a not-so-distant future, prisoners on death row or serving life sentences can opt into a program where they spend 3 years battling other prisoners to the death in Gladiator-style fights for the entertainment of the masses. If they survive 3 years, they earn their freedom. The story follows Loretta and Hamara, 2 such prisoners, "links" in the same chain-gang, and lovers. The author also gives the audience perspectives of many others - prison abolitionists, game-makers & producers, members of the public who become blood hungry and obsessed with following the chain-gangs in the reality show live streams. The brilliance of the book is the take down of the prison system, which we already know is systemically racist and misogynist, and the author ties events in the book back to actual real-life events/laws and statistics. It also challenges the reader to consider the concept of forgiveness ... and to examine how even the most violent of criminals is still a human being. The book is going to stay with me for a long time.