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The Panopticon

3.6 of 5 stars 3.60  ·  rating details  ·  2,879 ratings  ·  557 reviews
Pa`nopti`con ( noun). A circular prison with cells so constructed that the prisoners can be observed at all times. [Greek panoptos 'seen by all'] Anais Hendricks, fifteen, is in the back of a police car, headed for the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. She can't remember the events that led her here, but across town a policewoman lies in a coma and there is b ...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by William Heinemann Ltd (first published December 13th 2011)
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does the word "fuck" make you uncomfortable? if so, you will not like this book.

this is not a YA novel. i am embarrassed at how long it took me to clock that. pages and pages of densely-crowded and repetitious "fucks" and "cunts" and wanking, prostitution, rapes, drugs, graphic violence, suicide, and my only thought was "wow, european YA is so progressive..."

but no. not every book with a teenage protagonist is a YA book. lesson learned.lesson should have been learned after Pure and The God of An
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 aw
Shelby *wants some flying monkeys*
If you plan on picking up this book, go ahead and prepare yourself.

When I first started the book it took me over 30% to figure out what the heck was going on. Once I did I kept thinking no way..this can't be right.
Anais is a character I can't decide if I love or hate. She has been placed in the Panopticon after spending her life in care. Not a good life has it been either.

More of this:

Then I get attached to the other kids in there with her.

She does some really bad stuff which is why I can't l
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:


Where do I even begin?

I guess I’m just going to get right to brass tacks here. The Panopticon is not an easy book – either to read or to review. It’s a book that I imagine will have an abundance of both 1 Star and 5 Star ratings and one that many people “won’t get.” I generally hate the use of that term, but since I’m not sure I completely “got” this one, I’m feeling it’s probably okay for me to use in this case
Ash Wednesday
I’m just a girl with a shark’s heart.


I don’t necessarily know what that means (can anyone really trust urbandictionary nowadays?) or if I actually understood what Anais was talking about half the time but if there’s one thing I’m certain, my cuss vocabulary expanded a few pages more thanks to this book. And ming-fucking-mong is a new favorite.

Sometimes, you can just tell from the cover/title combo. Hard as we may try to not judge books by their covers, we do. And thi
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
Anais Hendricks is fifteen years old. That's fifteen years of living in care: foster homes, mostly, and "units" with other teens. In fact, she's been through over fifty "placements" already: twenty-four before she was seven, when she was adopted by a professional prostitute called Teresa; then another twenty-seven times from the age of eleven, when her new mother was killed by one of her clients in their apartment. She doesn't know who her real mother is - no one does - and she routinely plays t ...more
The Panopticon by Jenni Fagan

When it comes to deciding which book to read next I don’t follow a list nor do I try to work through a stack of books. I tend to read whatever type of novel catches my interest at the time.
After browsing through a few reviews of The Panopticon on GoodReads I decided this story was intriguing, strange and quirky enough to suit my taste in books… so I ordered a copy.

I’m very glad I did!!

This book is a debut novel for Scottish author Jenni Fagan. It is very different t
A darkly entertaining first-person narrative about Anais Hendricks: a lively, intelligent, witty fifteen-year-old girl who has spent her life in and out of care homes, has been arrested hundreds of times, has been doing every drug possible and having sex since she was a child, and may have put a police officer in a coma. At the beginning of the book, she's being transferred to the Panopticon, a home for young offenders housed in an old, gothic building. This is a good read - energetic and funny ...more
~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~
I feel like I need a shower. This book was grim and dirty; reading it was a visceral experience, a rather unpleasant one.

I was all set to like this book. I have a secret fondness for dialects and cussing (really, I do; cussing has its place!). But this book is essentially plotless. It's a big pile of meandering thoughts told by a drugged-up, paranoid teenager.

15-year-old Anais, in and out of group and foster homes, abused as a kid, tripping from just about every drug out there, is, by her own
Stuti (Turmeric isn't your friend. It will fly your ship
I've tried to come up with a way to review this book and the best I've been able to figure out is listing what I don't think this book is, rather than what it is-

~This book isn't appealing, feasible or entertaining.
~This book isn't about a girl who beats the system or even the system.
~This book isn't a thriller or a mystery.
~This book doesn't have a closure.
~This book doesn't have very charming characters.

Reasons you might want to avoid this book

~Anais, the MC, is very expressive and indiscreet
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Diane S.
3.5 Anais is an amazing character, she is now 15 and has been shuffled from one foster home to another, she arrives at the Panopticon because of her suspected part in the severe injury done to a policewoman. At the prison she will meet other youth, just like herself. There is plenty of swearing, drug use and sex, so I can see that this book will not be for everyone. Yet Anais, whose narrative voice takes some getting used to, and her friends have a story that need to be told.

So many of our yout
One of the hardest things about teaching is running into those students who just won’t get out of their own way. It isn’t a question of ability or intelligence; those things are, relatively speaking, easy to get a handle on. No, it’s the students who possess all the necessary tools and then opt, for whatever reason, not to engage at all. To let the work go unfinished, to half-ass the paper, to fake their way through the reading rather than attempt to make sense of it.

This was true when I taught

“The Panopticon” is one of the best-written, saddest, most-moving and triumphant coming-of-age novels I’ve ever read—easily one of the best books of 2013—and I have absolutely no damned idea how to review it.

I love books like that, books that are so original that they defy easy analysis. So many novels today have almost identical plots: a stranger comes to a new town; there’s a meet-cute between two people who initially hate each other then grow to love each other, and work to save an imperiled
‘The experiment are watching.
You can feel them, ay. In the quiet. In the room. Wherever you are-they’re there. That’s a given. Sometimes they’re right, sometimes a wee bit further away; when I want to hurt myself but I dinnae, I can always feel them then. They want me to hurt myself. They’re sick like that. What they really want is me dead.’

Anais, 15 years old, is suspected of assaulting a police officer and while the police complete their investigation she’s taken to The Panopticon for close
This book is so good.

The Panopticon is written in first-person, narrated by a 15-year-old girl named Anais Hendricks. The story is set in Scotland and when it opens, Anais is being accused of beating a police officer into a coma and is being placed in an institution called the Panopticon. The rest of the story goes through Anais’s time in the Panopticon and the life circumstances/choices that have ultimately led to her being placed there. The subject matter doesn’t make for easy reading–The Pano
Cassandra Lewis
As someone who has lived in a foster home, a children's home and an adolescent unit, I found this story and most of the characters and situations it described incredibly realistic. Yet, despite the book's generally depressing themes, I laughed my way through much of it, thanks to the protagonist's witty observations and comments and the general hilarity of some of her escapades.

Being ill-treated by adults (particularly those who were supposed to care for you), and going through the care system,
Judging by the reviews, accolades and praise this should have been something excellent, at least something special. And it really wasn't. To describe this book succinctly would be that it was difficult to read. In every sense. It's written in Scottish, you know that heavy Scottish brogue that sounds oh so charming, but you're not quite sure what's being uttered at all times...this is written like that. Took a while to get used to. Then there is the plot itself, a story of a 15 year old girl, who ...more
Lilla Smee

It's like ... Trainspotting starring a drug-addled, [too-]precocious 15 year old crossed with ... Judy Blume? It's relentless. Intense. Witty and charming (for all its bleak horror). You'll feel like a dirty voyeur, trapped in the brain of seriously fucked-up Anais. I did.

The unreliability of the first-person narrator--is she experiencing a flashback? indulging in pure fantasy? experiencing symptoms of mental illness?--was interesting at first, but ultimately pointless. Refreshing, though, are A

Gary Schroeder
Our protagonist 15-year old orphan Anais Hendricks is in a home for wayward Scottish children which just happens to be housed in an old complex called the Panopticon ( a facility designed in such a way that all occupants can be viewed at all times from a central tower). Anais is, we are told at many turns throughout the book, something special. She's NOT just an abused, drug addled, promiscuous, violence-prone, she's "got that Special Somethin'!" She's a violent offender with a ...more
This is another book that the premise sounds RIGHT up my alley - foster care, social work, coming of age, etc. All of those are things that I tend to gravitate to for so many reasons.

Although I was never bored while reading this one, I also never really found myself to be truly engaged in the novel. I was certainly disturbed by the content (it's definitely dark) and felt an overwhelming sense of sadness at the injustice so prevalent in this novel. But, I didn't find myself compelled by it. I ju
LeeAnn Heringer
*Sigh* Another book pushed at me and pushed at me and pushed at me and, well, I just didn't get it. The protagonist is a young girl, drug addicted, been through the child services grind, found her adopted prostitute mother murdered in the bath, may or may not have put a policewoman in a coma. So, I didn't like the girl and there's not much of a plot, just her walking in circles randomly reacting to things that may or may not be there. And child services in Scotland must be pretty bad if girls in ...more
Kirsty Grant
This book is outstanding. Written in present tense and first person, Fagan explores the word of the child caught in the 'system'. Anais is a troubled kid who has been in and out of homes and foster care her whole life. Searching for a sense of identity, she is exposed to and involved in crime and drugs whilst being surrounded by prostitution. The narrative voice is excellent and Fagan uses analepsis to flesh out the girls past. Written in part English and part Scottish, the skill is in the beat ...more
Anais Hendricks, a fifteen-year-old Scottish girl, has been in trouble for years, and now, after she has beaten a police officer into a coma, she is sent to live in the Panopticon, a social-work housing experiment for troubled teens in which all the units face inward towards a tower full of guards who watch the teens. That’s the premise, at least: Anais tells her story in stream-of-consciousness (and sometimes unconsciousness) as she relates her thoughts, hopes, fears, dreams, drug experiences, ...more
Casee Marie
Jenni Fagan’s debut novel tells the story of Anais Hendricks, a fifteen year-old Scottish orphan being transferred to a juvenile facility known as the Panopticon. Considered a secure home for teenage offenders, the Panopticon is a prison to its young residents; a circular building observed by an unknown audience in a watchtower, the rooms with doors that can be closed – and locked – by only the staff. At the time of her transfer, Anais has been apprehended by police, found with blood on her skir ...more
Alessandra Trindle
Anais Hendricks is the Holden Caulfield of the Scottish juvenile delinquent set.

We meet her after she may have beaten a female cop into a coma and she is being taken by her social worker to the Panopticon, a facility for wayward teens that keeps an eye on them 24-7. Anais is certain that she didn't beat the cop, but she has no memory of the event because she was higher than the proverbial kite when the incident occurred.

This story had the potential to be a brilliant commentary on a dystopian soc
Anais is 15 and has cycled through the Scottish social system, foster homes, group homes and jail, literally her entire life, since she was born in a mental institution where her mother was an inmate. She questions whether she was ever actually born at all and suspects that she was really grown in a petri dish as an experiment and she feels that she is being watched by the shadowy designers of this experiment all the time. As the book opens, Anais is being driven in handcuffs to her latest placi ...more
This is certainly an interesting novel - though a bit difficult to classify. The age of the narrator - just fifteen - makes it seem like it could fall into the YA genre. But after a few pages of cursing, extreme drug use, sex and violence, it is a bit too adult to safely be shelved there. Its premise - of a young woman covered in blood remanded into a more secure care home after allegedly assaulting a police officer into a coma - makes it seem like it could be a mystery. And though many mysterie ...more
A really satisfying and strange book about a troubled teen girl, Anais, as she tries to get a hold of her life while staying at a kind of at-risk facility, the Panopticon of the title. I have to say, it's the most positive emobidment of the panopticon project I think I've ever heard of, since the facility is mostly staffed by warm and caring people.

Part of what made this book really work for me was the willingness of Fagan to really commit to the voice. It took me a couple chapters to get used t
Gabi Coatsworth
This book is all about the voice. That's what makes it great, and what might also make it very difficult to read for American readers.The character of the young female protagonist, who's trying to find and keep her own identity during a life of deprivation, abuse and foster homes, is a mix of feisty, amoral, and loyal. I was on her side form the get go. The Panopticon of the title is a care home where all the rooms are visible from a central core. When I began reading, I thought this was a dysto ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please Add Cover 2 13 Mar 04, 2015 11:20PM  
The Readers: Book #8; The Panopticon – Jenni Fagan 2 45 Apr 05, 2013 01:41PM  
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Jenni Fagan was born in Livingston, Scotland, and lives in London. She graduated from Greenwich University with the highest possible mark for a student of Creative Writing and won a scholarship to the Royal Holloway MFA. A published poet, she has won awards from Arts Council England, Dewar Arts, and Scottish Screen among others. She has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize twice and shortlisted f ...more
More about Jenni Fagan...
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“I dinnae get people, like they all want to be watched, to be seen, like all the time. They put up their pictures online and let people they dinnae like look at them! And people they’ve never met as well, and they all pretend tae be shinier than they are – and some are even posting on like four sites; their bosses are watching them at work, the cameras watch them on the bus, and on the train, and in Boots, and even outside the chip shop. Then even at home – they’re going online to look and see who they can watch, and to check who’s watching them!” 11 likes
“As specimens go, they always get excited about me. I'm a good one. A show-stopper. I'm the kind of kid they'll still enquire about ten years later. Fifty-one placements, drug problems, violence, dead adopted mum, no biological links, constant offending. Tick, tick, tick. I lure them in to being with. Cultivate my specimen face. They like that. Do-gooders are vomit-worthy. Damaged goods are dangerous. The ones that are in it cos the thought it would be a step up from an office job are tedious. The ones who've been in too long lose it. The ones who think they've got the Jesus touch are fucking insane. The I can save you brigade are particularly radioactive. They think if you just inhale some of their middle-classism, then you'll be saved.” 4 likes
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