Named one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists
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 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 counterculture 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. But when she looks up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais realizes her fate: She is an anonymous part of an experiment, and she always was. Now it seems that the experiment is closing in.
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About Jenni FaganSee more books from this Author
It’s hard to fault the author for wanting to provide her protagonist with a happy ending, given the hell she puts her through, but the novel’s final lapse into wish fulfillment feels like a cop-out. Novelists don’t always have to kill their darlings, but sometimes it’s necessary to lock them away forever.Read Full Review of Panopticon | See more reviews from Toronto Star
Beyond this, there are some decisions of style and content that initially seem ill-advised...and the choice of first-person, present-tense for the narrative sets off alarm bells, but it’s to Fagan’s credit that ultimately we can not only live with these decisions but feel they were the right ones.Read Full Review of Panopticon | See more reviews from National Post arts
Life’s injustices may knock her down, but Anais, with her strong moral code and mix of fragility and resilience, is hard to beat. The Panopticon is like its protagonist: tough as old boots and always ready with the fists, but likely to steal your heart if you’ll just slow down and listen.Read Full Review of Panopticon | See more reviews from National Post arts
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