Anais has lived her life in foster care, bounced from homes and institutions dozens of times in her short life. She knows all about rooms without any windows or doors, and she knows about a lot of other things she shouldn't have to know. She has been in trouble with the law over and over and over. Caught with her skirt covered in blood and a police officer down, it is assumed that she is responsible, and she is put in yet another institution, The Panopticon, pending charges and trial. But what is her reality?
This was an amazing, powerful piece of work. The unreliable narration was deft and very effective: I was left at the end of the book still with many questions about what was reality, fantasy, mental illness, drug-induced, or deliberate misdirection. Somehow, this initially unlikeable, abrasive, impenetrable character becomes comprehensible and highly sympathetic over the course of the book, and I found myself barracking for her.
I did feel slightly let down at first as some of the buzz and the title led me to believe that there was a strong science fictional element. But viewing this book purely as a literary novel, I felt it was compelling, gut-punching, and a definite page-turner.
It is not for everyone, and it's not YA either. Content notes for, oh, everything. Abuse of all kinds, bad language of all kinds, lots of vivid drug use. Happy to expand by PM if anyone needs details.
Bonus: lots of queer characters and content.