Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: "The Panopticon" by Jenni Fagan

The Panopticon is the first novel by Scottish poet Jenni Fagan.  Anais, the fifteen year-old-protagonist is thoroughly a hard to love chronic offender who has found herself in the Panopticon, the 23rd home she's gone through. Despite the young lead, I wouldn't classify this as a YA read due to extensive vulgarity, heavy drug use, and subject matter including prostitution, rape, suicide, and murder.

The novel started slowly, with Anais being introduced to her a new home. However, once the other occupants of the home are fully introduced, I became much more invested and soon was hanging on every page waiting to hear good news for the fates of the young outcasts.

Anais has a theory: She's part of an experiment, born out of a test tube, raised under a constant watchful eye, and put to the test time and time again just to suit the whims of this experiment.  It's a broad fear that appears throughout the novel at random intervals. The idea of a constant fear of being watched is ingrained in the novel's title (Panopticon), but it isn't really developed as much as I would've liked for the intriguing premise.

The use of dialect was very distracting for me during the first third of the book, before the translations became second nature. "Tae" for "to" was simple enough, but words like "umnay" and "urnay" took me awhile to switch over to "am not" and "are not". It's important for a novel to stay true to the vocabulary of the characters, but I didn't like the imposition of a dialect that could've been described instead of written out throughout the entire novel.

There are also some great supplemental materials at the end of the novel: discussion questions, a list of inspirations, and even a playlist to go along with the story.

All in all, the story line was interesting, I was invested in the characters even if I didn't like them, but the dialect, profuse cussing, and lack of development of the "experiment" really brought the book down. 

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.

No comments:

Post a Comment