Cover Image: Panacea

Panacea

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Member Reviews

I didn’t get time to read this whole book (on requesting I didn’t know that it was over 600 pages and life has gotten in the way!) but I loved what I read of it and can’t wait to buy a copy to find out what happens to all of the characters.

Tentative 4 stars, we’ll see where it goes from here 👀
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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of Panacea in exchange for an honest review!

This was an enjoyable read. It took me a while to get through it just based on the heavy content that the book included. I found at times there was a lot going on, which for me I think connects to there being so many characters to focus on throughout the book. While there were many central characters, I think the author did a great job creating distinct individuals that each played an important role to the plot of the book. I enjoyed how each character, while forced to deal with their own problems on their own for the most part, came together throughout different stages of the book to support one other. 
 
I thought the world building of Panacea was very cool, and enjoyed the futuristic vibe of this book. There are some acts of violence in this book, especially towards the end that I wasn't expecting. While shocking and heartbreaking, it added so much to the story and caused you to truly think about what you were reading. 

Overall, I really did enjoy this book and if the author publishes a second novel in the series, I will absolutely pick it up!
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I found the premise to be very intriguing and I was really interested in this title. However, the multitude of viewpoints and the lack of backstory made it very hard to read, and I wound up not being able to finish.
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The premise of this book really intrigued me. I liked the idea of a sci-fi book tackling today’s political issues head-on, and the story grabs you from the start. You’re immediately drawn into the characters’ world and their fight. Where I think the book faltered a bit, and where it lost me, was in the lack of backstory. There were mentions throughout of this big event, 13/3, and I gathered because of how it was referred to by characters that it was basically like the future UK’s version of 9/11, and we do get a small bit of story of what happened, but I still was left feeling a bit lost on exactly what happened and how it led to the world I was reading about. I also had to suspend disbelief a bit that all of this AI technology would be as sophisticated as it was made to seem in less than 20 years.

Overall a good premise. The characters are fantastic and so well developed. Just some plot points that I felt were lacking to give me the background I personally like to have in stories like this. Thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy!
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Quite a complex read but a lovely one ! 

The writer's way of writing is quite unique and this book has a chance to become a series.
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This book was a very nice surprise! It had been on my reader for a while and for some reason I always chose other books to read first. But when I finally decided to go for it I enjoyed myself immensely. It's a grim near future London with a diverse cast of characters living their lives when a new immigrants law is enabled that makes it very easy to deport immigrants for every little violation of the law. This causes a spark, fueled by a supercomputer who ensures the events play out in a way that will lead to rebellion and the birth of a new leader.
I don't want to spoil too much so I am going to leave it at this. The book is well worth your effort if you like sci fi without all the technical mumbo jumbo and with a setting that actually isn't all that farfetched when you think about the state of the world at the moment. My only thing is that I didn't care for the 7 different 1st person POV's, but I usually have an aversion to first person so don't let that hold you back!

***I received an ARC and am leaving a review voluntarily.***
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So I absolutely loved the sound of this book from the synopsis, unfortunately I tried reading it and got about 7 chapters in and could not finish. Its not at all anything to do with the writing style or the book as a whole as it still sounds great. But it just wasn't for me as I started reading. Thankyou for letting me have a copy though! I am truly grateful.
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An intriguing and great queer sci-fi title. The writing is enjoyable and flows well, making it an easy read to really delve into and get absorbed into the world. It makes the at time difficult topics tie well into the world and narrative.
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I didn't find this easy to read. Due to some of the content covered.

But apart from that I found the author has a good writing style. Although I feel it would have come across better if the story had been told in the third person. I found there were too many voices in my head.

This book has the opportunity to becoming a series. That seems to becoming a trend lately.  

It's definitely a good book. It broke my heart at times and had me on the edge of my seat at other times.

Yes, I would recommend this book but please be aware some of the content may make you cry.

Enjoy!
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First off, the worldbuilding in this was nicely done. The dystopian, not-too-far-away future the author created was very interesting, and there's a lot of potential for future sequels here.

However, this was written as alternating first-person chapters among several characters. I personally found all their voices similar, and I kept forgetting who was the POV character in a chapter. I found it confusing to follow what was happening because of this, and I think I would have enjoyed this more if it had been written from third-person.
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This novel was very enjoyable. Good characters, perfect pace, and very relevant regarding social issues.
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I was provided a free copy of this book by the author to review. This has in no way influenced my review or rating.

4.75/5 Stars

Panacea Build 1.0 by Charli Drever is YA sci-fi set in London, 2039. It follows a group of teens who are all affected in various ways by violent anti-immigration sentiment, like a recent law prohibiting immigrants, asylum seekers, and their children from attending college. This has only added to the existing unjust laws like reduced electricity rations for the aforementioned. The city is controlled by augmented, literal unfeeling soldiers whose emotions are removed via a (chemical?) hub they're implanted with. I struggled with the mechanics of some of the tech but that was definitely a "me" problem; I have the same issue with most sci-fi.

We follow seven teenagers (and one adult) from, I believe, four points of view; Alex, who gets been beaten senseless by a soldier because she’s resisting arrest for sharing her excess electricity with the immigrant family next door; Tio, daughter in said immigrant family, who knocks the soldier out to save Alex and has to go on the run to avoid deportation to a country she's never set foot in; Ruslan, the son of poor immigrants who gets kicked out of college the same day he gets a mysterious email offering him a new future; and later Felicity, Alex's privileged adopted sister who feels left out of Alex's life and is willing to go far out of her comfort zone to be back in it. There's also: Zoee, who got the same email as Ruslan; Berry, Alex's girlfriend and Tio's good friend; Olly, Tio's best friend; and Aston, Alex's friend in his 20's who acts as the groups de facto leader.

So, that’s a lot of main characters. A lot of main characters with similar politics and traumas, all working towards vaguely the same goal. In the hands of a lesser author they likely would’ve all bled together but Drever gives each such a unique perspective and voice, introduces each in such a natural way, that I never once mixed anyone up. I fell in love with every character as an individual and when they all came to work together it was exciting and fascinating to see the different personalities I had come to know interacting. The characters are truly what drive this story; they are beautifully three-dimensional and flawed. They’re teenagers, and they act like it. They fuck up— boy, do they fuck up big time— but they’re just normal kids with an unwavering sense that what is happening is wrong and that it’s up to them to fix things.

There are two main events that kick the book off: Tio defending her neighbor Alex and subsequently going on the run with the help of her friends, and Ruslan receiving the email offering him a chance to change not only his life but the course of history. For roughly the first half of the book, Ruslan and Zoee are training, building skills, and getting used to their new reality after the email-sender introduces some pretty huge changes in their lives, while Tio is on the run with the help of her friends. However, later in the book Tio turns herself in to save her mom from deportation and it begins to feel like a heist story, a heist to save Tio and hundreds of other immigrants and children of immigrants who’ve been imprisoned by the government for minor crimes.

The future London Drever has created is incredibly immersive. For the first few chapters I felt like I’d been transported into a hyper-realistic video game cutscene. In fact, much of the book has a Detroit: Become Human-esque vibe that made it intense but also a lot of fun. Indeed, Panacea is fun, but wow, is it also heavy. There are some dark, dark scenes. (In fact, I strongly suggest you check the content warning at the end of this review before reading.) It doesn’t shy away from the realities of living in an oppressive, racist police state, which only served to make the story that much more real. I wouldn’t really call this a thriller in the typical sense of the word, but more than once it had my heart hammering, reading frantically, and forcing myself not to skip ahead to find out what happens. The characters became like friends and the situations they were put in were nothing short of harrowing to read.

Prepare to have your heart broken with this one. The ending truly destroyed me. In fact, one scene in particular actually made me shout “NO!” out loud at the screen. It would’ve been so easy to give everyone in this story a happily ever after, but that’s not the reality of the world, and if you go into Panacea expecting everyone to come out happy and smiling you’re in for an unpleasant surprise. If you go in expecting it to reflect reality and the horrors of capitalism and xenophobia this will be right up your alley. Panacea is violent for a young adult book but it’s neither gratuitous nor sugar-coated. Just real.

Something to mention: the representation in this book is phenomenal and nuanced. Nearly every character is a racial minority, queer, or both, all written in such a way that this is simply a fact of who they are and never a stand-in for their personality. It’s quite an experience, as someone who grew up a closeted bisexual with absolutely no positive representation of my sexuality in young adult books at the time. After falling completely head-over-heels in love with Panacea I read a short story written by the author as well, and found more beautifully done, casual queer representation. Charli Drever is now officially on my “must read everything they put out forever” list along with Tamsyn Muir and Xiran Jay Zhao.

All in all, I was left with a tenuous conclusion to the story of Build 1.0, a sense that, while my heart was broken, these kids were on the path to sparking an incredible revolution, and a deeply burning desire to read Build 2.0 to find the answers to the questions that remained.

Content warnings: violence (extreme, graphic), police violence/beating (graphic), racism (constant), xenophobia (extreme, constant), police intimidation, violent death, military violence, body augmentation via technology, mutilation of a corpse, parental intimidation, state violence and oppression, concentration camps, neglect of prisoners
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I really enjoyed this book I found it engaging and hard to put down. It had an intriguing storyline and it didnt disappoint on delivery.
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This was queer sci fi at its finest. Gripping characters brimming with intrigue and glittered with diversity. I adored Charli Drever's debut, and for a self-published title, this felt every bit on par with something from a big-league author. Great work here.
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