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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.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content

Book Reviews

The Panopticon
Average rating
3.9 / 5
1 person found this helpful
January 23rd, 2014
Overall, a disappointment after all the raves I read about this book. May be it was written for people of more intelligence than I have or for people whose minds are more attuned to frenetic complexities, but I found the experience of reading it exhausting, where, instead of letting the words flow through me I had to be constantly alert for nuances, tricky turns and hidden meanings. It was a bit like playing a video game full of blind alleys and villains who jump out at you. On the positive side, the characters are well-drawn and the Scottish teen idiom sounds authentic. But I can't recommend the book, mostly because I can't think what kind of reader would enjoy wading through it.
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1 review
1 person found this helpful
January 23rd, 2014
Anais Hendricks is not only a tough kid to warm up to because of her alarming history of delinquency and her raucous vocabulary, but getting accustomed to the dialect also makes the book get off a slow start. Even so, as you grow with Anais, you root for her evolution, her growing realization of her power and her transformation. The book gave me new empathy for the plight of those left behind by society. A difficult read on many levels, but well worth it.
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1 review
Passionately written...
December 6th, 2013
I must sit back now in order to let the story sink in well... It was intriguing, and interesting to read a novel from the viewpoint of a "lifer" in social work settings... Definitely heart wrenching, sad, funny at times, and written without filters, right to the point.
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1 review

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