The Panopticon

Jenni Fagan

First Sentence:     I’m an experiment.

Back of the book:

Anais Hendricks, 15, 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 blood on Anais’s school uniform.

Smart, funny and fierce, Anais is also a child who has been let down, or worse, by just about every adult she has ever met.

The residents of the Panopticon form intense bonds, heightened by their place on the periphery, and Anais finds herself part of an ad-hoc family there. Much more suspicious are the social workers, especially Helen, who is about to leave her job but is determined to force Anais to confront the circumstances of her mother’s death before she goes.

Looking up at the watchtower that looms over the residents, Anais knows her fate: she is part of an experiment, she always was, it’s a given, a fact. And the experiment is closing in.

Quotes from the book:

I dinnae get people, like they all want to be watched, to be seen, like all the time. They put their pictures online and let people they dinnae like look at them! And people they’ve never met as well, and they all pretend to 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!

Is that not weird?

“I hate. Her red shoes.”

I love looking at reflections in bath water, any kind of water in fact. They’re like wee surreal paintings. I might photograph reflections, in water, in kettles, in things other people dinnae look at, like bins and shit like that.

“I hate. Her face.”

* * *

Last Sentence:     I – begin today.

Unique and intriguing, I’m looking forward to her next book…