Monday, September 23, 2013

The Panopticon; Jenni Fagan

Title:  The Panopticon
Author: Jenni Fagan
Publication Year:  2013 
Publisher:  Hogarth
Edition: arc/eGalley
Source: Amazon Vine/Edelweiss
Date Completed: Sept - 2013
Rating: 4/5


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.

11 comments:

  1. This does sound gritty but good. Reality fiction....

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  2. Pretty serious topic. Glad you enjoyed it.

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  3. Yeah, I don't think I could read this.

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  4. I saw this one somewhere before and thought it sounded fantastic. I'll have to put this one on my to read list.

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  5. I agree that many will not like the reading experience of The Panopitcon, but I think it's such an important book even if it makes you uncomfortable. So many children actually live like this and the system fails them every day. Such a good book and I love seeing other people read and enjoy despite all of the bleakness and nastiness!

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  6. I can deal with the raw gritty part but I am concerned about the dialect.

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  7. Another book that I've been meaning to get to this summer. So glad you liked this one!

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  8. I brought this book home in print, but wonder if I want to listen instead with the dialect of the book.

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  9. I'm looking forward to this one but it sounds like I'm going to have to be in just the right mood to work for it.

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