When Anais Hendricks is found with blood on her clothes the same night a police officer—one known to not get along with Anais—is found brutally beaten, she is shipped to the Panopticon, a home for chronic young offenders. Although she can’t remember the events that landed her there, Anais does know one thing: she is part of an experiment, always has been, and the experiment is closing in on her.
It was a bit hard to come up with a description for The Panopticon because I felt like it didn’t really have a plot. I thought the book started off interesting enough. The characters, especially Anais, were well written and the reason I kept reading the book. I wanted to know what happened to them in the end. But when it came to plot, I think it started off as something, but seemed to have been dropped halfway through and almost completely forgotten by the end.
We only slightly know what happened the day Anais is arrested for a crime she wasn’t even sure she committed, but we never fully find out what happens to the police officer—or really Anais for that matter. It’s obvious that Anais is not a normal girl: she believes she was born in a test tube and is part of an experiment where men with no faces watch her every move. She survives mostly on day dreams of a life that could have been. I think these are the things that make her interesting. I wanted her to succeed and to get a life she deserves to have, not the one she is living. I wanted her to get justice. And I liked learning about her as the book went on. But I’m disappointed that I’ll never really know what happened, and if she gets the justice she deserves.
I would not recommend The Panopticon for readers who are faint of heart or who are looking for a light read as it is a brutally honest book. Loosely based off of Jenni Fagan’s own experiences growing up in the Scottish foster care system, The Panopticon depicts moments of violence, self harm, and drug use, which may not be suitable for all readers.