The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan
Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car. She is headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can’t remember what’s happened, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and Anais’s school uniform is covered in blood.
Raised in foster care from birth and moved through twenty-three placements before she even turned seven, Anais has been let down by just about every adult she has ever met. Now a counter-culture outlaw, she knows that she can only rely on herself. And yet despite the parade of horrors visited upon her early life, she greets the world with the witty, fierce insight of a survivor.
Anais finds a sense of belonging among the residents of the Panopticon – they form intense bonds, and she soon becomes part of an ad hoc family. Together, they struggle against the adults that keep them confined. When she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents though, Anais knows her fate: she is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.
Named one of the best books of the year by the Times Literary Supplement and the Scotsman, The Panopticon is an astonishingly haunting, remarkable debut novel. In language dazzling, energetic and pure, it introduces us to a heartbreaking young heroine and an incredibly assured and outstanding new voice in fiction.
Tae, cannae, wee, nae, didnae, isnae, gonnae, dinnae, wasnae, umnay, havenae.
Conkers, boak, stouter, choring, witters, womble, wellying, scants.
In case you were wondering, this book is written by a Scottish author. It’s completely un-Americanized. Google is your friend.
Holy fuck. I don’t even know where to fucking start. What the fuck is this? What the fuck was the point? Is there a fucking point? Or is this just supposed to depress the fuck out of me? I can’t fucking decide. Was it fucking awesome? Or do I want to burn its memory from my fucking synapses?
Let the above paragraph serve as a test. Does the amount of f-bombs I used offend you? If so, you probably shouldn’t read this book.
Drugs. Cigarettes. Wanking. Drugs. Rape. Death. Drugs. Pedophilia. Wanking. Sex. Wanking. Drugs. Senseless violence. Drugs. A broken system. Wanking. Cigarettes. Lesbians. Drugs. Wanking. Alcohol. Molestation. Wanking.
Let the above paragraph serve as another test. Are you offended by any of these things? How about their prevalence? Are they triggers for you? If so, you probably shouldn’t read this book.
It took me over a month to get through this because I couldn’t handle it in more than ten page increments. I’m not gonna lie, I nearly DNFed it several times. Not because it isn’t good, not because it’s poorly written, and not because it doesn’t have a message. It’s just not an easy book to read. The MC didn’t grow up too quickly; she never had a childhood at all. She was born in an asylum and shit went downhill for her from there. So…yeah.
I don’t even know how to describe this other than to say that it’s about a broken child growing up surrounded by other broken people, in a broken system. It’s not pretty, it’s not uplifting, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
I struggled to determine how to rate this, but because of the emotions it pulled from me, it’s getting ALL the stars. Do I recommend it? Absolutely. It’s not a book I enjoyed reading, but I think it needs to be read.