Title: The Panopticon
Author: Jenni FaganPublication Year: 2013
Source: Amazon Vine/Edelweiss
Date Completed: Sept - 2013
Anais Hendricks is a 15-year-old who has been in and out of the foster care system in England. Her mother gave birth to her in a mental institution, and later abandoned her. Her adoptive mother, Theresa, a prostitute, was murdered in a bathtub, while Anais waited for her in a room nearby, not aware of what was happening.
Anais has coped with booze and drugs, and after being accused of beating a police woman into a coma, she is brought to The Panopticon, a detention center for kids in trouble. She was covered in blood, but because she was high on drugs, she doesn't remember the incident she is accused of.
The Panopticon, is a Scottish facility for young offenders up to the age of 18. It is an unusual circular facility where everyone can be observed 24/7 from a watchtower. At the Panopticon, Anais thinks she and other inmates that she befriends are part of some grand experiment. Could she be right?
The story is told by Anais, and her voice is one of teenage angst. She's an unreliable narrator, and given the fact she has spent years on drugs, the reader is never sure what is real or the result of hallucinations or even paranoia. As the reader, you'll have to sort all that out for yourself.
The author has done a terrific job on this debut novel, but be advised it is a tough story to read. It's raw and gritty and there is sex, drugs, violence and foul language as well. The Scottish dialect takes some getting use to as well.
It's a pretty realistic story about cast off children who are trying to find their way in a society that has failed them, and reading about that will make many readers cringe. The author has done her homework and seems to know an awful lot about her subject.
I'm glad I read it, but definitely not for everyone.