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The Panopticon

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  4,997 ratings  ·  776 reviews
Nella desolata campagna alla periferia di Edimburgo svetta una torre di guardia. È il Panopticon, una struttura circolare, con tante piccole celle controllate dall’alto da un occhio invisibile.
Qui vengono rinchiusi i ragazzi senza speranza: i giovani disadattati, segnati per sempre da un’infanzia difficile. Come Anais Hendricks, 15 anni, che da quando è nata è passata da u
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 3rd 2012 by William Heinemann Ltd (first published December 13th 2011)
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Stephen Cronin 15/16yr olds should be able to read this if given context, I accept some parents would object but intellectual and cultural challenge is a great reaso…more15/16yr olds should be able to read this if given context, I accept some parents would object but intellectual and cultural challenge is a great reason to read.(less)

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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 *trains 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
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 ca
Ash Wednesday
Feb 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Trainspotting, Louis CK and funny horrible things
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 t
James Barker
I have a big thing about panopticons. In fact the PhD I am trying to battle through at the moment has more than a nod to them. So I picked up this novel- not ordinarily my sort of thing- out of interest regarding the title and elements of the story. I’m pleased I did. It is, as they say, an accomplished debut, quite something of a page-turner but also unexpectedly literary and with a first-person narrative that, bar a few squelchy, over-written moments, feels authentic. Full of vituperations and ...more
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” 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 clos
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
Diane S ☔
Aug 14, 2013 rated it liked it
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
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
~✡~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
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Stuti Rai
Jul 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 08, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Gary Schroeder
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Cassandra Lewis
Mar 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, read-again
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,
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tears-were-shed, 2016
More like 4.5 but I don't care this book was gritty and fucking rad and depressing and hilarious. I didn't even know what shelves to put it on bc it was something different entirely. Also, I've been thinking in a Scottish accent for days now, so thanks, Jenni Fagan, bc it's honestly less annoying than how my thinker usually sounds.

Anais was a beautiful character, I cried for her and her shitty life and crazy brain and for her all the things stolen from her.

who would I recommend this to? oh hell
Sep 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british-read
Extremely depressing but absolutely brilliant and inspirational. A very powerful novel indeed, one that would inspire those with visions of a kinder, fairer and more empathic world to act.
Jul 31, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lit-fic, scotland
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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
Jul 14, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 09, 2014 rated it liked it

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

Gabi Coatsworth
Jul 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a fantastic book. It hits you right between the eyes - absolutely no concessions. It relates the story of a fifteen year old girl in the care system in Scotland (warning:some dialect words in there).

This is not a happy tale, the main character is very damaged - though given the gradual reveal of her back story throughout the book, she could have easily been more so. She is surprisingly sane for one who has packed a lot into her fifteen years.

What I like about the book is that though it
Ross Maclean
Feb 05, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
There’s an awful lot I loved about this — not least Anais, who is a singularly compelling narrator — but it just didn’t quite click into place. The vivid sense of location the titular Panopticon is imbued with, as well as its environs, helps give it a real lived-in aura and the book is clearly written with authority on both its characters and the cycle of institutionalisation they find themselves in. I think it was the occasionally twee fantastical elements that kept pulling me away from it thou ...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 53 Apr 05, 2013 01:41PM  

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Jenni Fagan has published three fiction novels, five books of poetry and had scripts produced for stage and screen.

Jenni is an award winning, critically acclaimed poet and novelist. She is published in eight languages. A Granta Best of Young British Novelist (once-in-a-decade-accolade), Scottish Novelist of the Year (2016), Pushchart nominated, on lists for BBC International Short Story Prize, Imp

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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!” 16 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.” 5 likes
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