Cover Image: Panacea


Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

I liked the premise of this book, but it never really grabbed me and pulled me in. The chapters jumped around in characters, which is likely one of the reasons I had difficulty connecting with the book. I find that it takes a really talented author to pull of jumping characters while really providing a connection to the reader.
Was this review helpful?
Panacea by Charli Drever is a sci-fi/ dystopian novel set in the near distant future that follows a group of young adults as they attempt to fight the broken system that is discriminatory and unjust.

The book jumps to all of their point of views, which I found quite confusing. I thought that I would get used to it by the end but I still struggled to keep track. It took me a while to get to know the characters because of this. One thing I really loved was the fantastic representation. Almost all of the characters were people of colour and a part of the LGBT community. They were written really well and I think that it's great to have a book so filled with characters that  are part of these communities without the book only focusing on that. 

I would say that in terms of plot I really enjoyed it until about 60%, where I just felt like the story took some odd turns. I wouldn't say that things were 'unrealistic' but they didn't really seem to flow with the story. And the ending was a bit unexpected, which left me feeling slightly disappointed. 

I did like reading this and it was an interesting story, but overall it didn't really stand out for me.
Was this review helpful?
Charli Drever’s Panacea is a hard-driving, near future, sci-fi thrill ride that doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to the dystopian narrative.

Don’t go into this book lightly. It’s full of the familiar heavy subjects one would expect in a modern dystopian storyline. There’s plenty of shocking police and military violence among the interconnected tales of racism and xenophobia. In some ways, it was a challenging read, given the state of things lately. But the story was grounded in a firm sense of realism. Drever included a considerably sized cast and frequently switched the point of view between several of them. Lending the reader these varying perspectives helps give the book the depth and gravitas of an adult-oriented story.

This is no Hunger Games. The most challenging part of the story was how close we are to the author’s reality becoming an actual reality. It’s easy to see a London–or any comparable, major, Western city/country hurtling towards crisis and collapse–where resources and education are allocated by status or class and 1st or even 2nd generation immigrants are sent back to their country of origin. And Drever wields technology like the double-edged weapon it is, offering it as one of the causes and solutions for their world’s problem.

This story contains mentions of violence, racism, mental illness, death, and mild drug use.
Was this review helpful?
I always enjoy YA science-fiction, and Charli Drever’s Panacea > Build 1.0 was a perfect way to start the year in this regard. I obtained an advanced copy of the book, which will be published on July 9th 2021. Set in 2039, this cyberpunk thriller follows a diverse group of teenagers as they are dragged into the heart of the United Kingdom’s political turmoil due to a new law—known ironically as the Migrant Rights Act—which strips first and second-generation immigrants of most of their few remaining rights, including the right to continue going to public school past the age of 16. Drever’s story uses multiple perspectives to show that lives are taken apart by this law. Four key teenagers will rise above the rest and take part in a plan, known as “The Panacea,” which is meant to help people like them.
The main plot centres on Taiye Ogadele (pronounced Tai-yeh), known to her friends as Tio, a young woman who fights back against a soldier in order to protect her friend from a violent beating. Although Taiye was born in the UK, she is considered an immigrant, since her mother was born in Nigeria. Hurting one of the government’s enhanced cyborg soldiers is a death sentence, and she has to go on the run, hoping to make it to Scotland, which is an independent country in the book. Drever centres the story around this incident, providing a poignant commentary on how black and brown bodies are treated by the police. As shown by the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020, police brutality and racism are worldwide issues which need to be addressed in fiction, including speculative fiction.
Drever’s other point-of-view characters include Alex, a third-generation immigrant with Iraqi heritage and the girl who Taive aimed to protect, Felicity, Alex’s friend and foster sister, and Ruslan, a Belarusian boy who went to the same college as Taiye, and found his future ripped away just like she did. Russian is hired by the AI that devised the Panacea to help free Taiye. Drever deftly balances all these perspectives in alternating chapters. Each chapter is short and snappy, keeping the plot rolling while also deepening the reader’s connection to the characters.
Drever excels in terms of character development. Even some of the characters whose perspectives are not directly represented are full of life. Each one has hobbies, friends, dreams, and a family. Brief mentions of Taiye’s painting or Ruslan’s dreams of going to college keep the story feeling grounded and realistic. These people are still so young, and they were meant to lead full lives, but have been left reeling by a government sanction which oppresses a large swath of people.
The characters’ diverse heritage also informs their perspectives, without being their defining trait. Alex, who faced Islamophobia and harsh comments even before her encounter with the police, is understandably angry and jaded. Taiye is hopeful yet frightened, Ruslan is cynical, and Felicity is just plain scared.
The friendships in Panacea also feel authentic. Taive’s friends support and love each other unconditionally, but are not afraid to tease and make jokes, even in dark times. Although Alex had not been a part of Taiye’s life for as long as some of her other friends, their loyalty to each other is strong enough that Taive cannot stand by and let her friend be hurt, even if it means putting a target on her own back. Like in real life, their friendships are not perfect. Several characters disagree over the right course of action, but this never destroys their relationship. Their arguments come from concern for each other, and from doubt about the direction to take. This is normal in political spheres, and I enjoyed the fact that Drever kept some nuance, rather than defaulting to an “us VS. the government” mentality.
While Drever uses the “model minority” stereotype in Taiye’s mother, Femi, this emphasize how unjust the political system in England has become. Femi, a refugee of a civil war who sought asylum in England two decades prior to the story, is violently arrested for the minor crime of borrowing electricity—from a neighbour who willingly offered it, no less. Despite her years of service as a nurse, she is thrown into a refugee camp to await trial. Throughout the story, Drever emphasizes Taiye and Femi’s love for each other, as well as their fear that they may never see each other again.
Taiye and Femi’s relationship showcases the emotional core of this story: love. Love is what drives all of the teenagers to push past their fear and work together. Their love for each other and compassion for others who are in similar position across the country motivates them to stand up and fight for their rights.
Love in this story also explicitly ties into leftist politics. Love does not simply involve an end to police brutality and fighting against anti-black racism. It means a politics of radical acceptance for all people, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or immigration status. It means mutual aid, and acceptance of those who were previously shunned, such as homeless people and those who use drugs.
Drever’s story may be science-fiction, but every technological element of this not-so-distant future builds on the fight of love against authoritarianism. England has become a surveillance state, with drones constantly hovering overhead and soldiers patrolling the streets. Immigration raids, which led to Alex and Femi’s arrests, are becoming more frequent. It is illegal to own as 3D printer, as it may be used to create technology that aids protesters. Phones are just another listening device, with algorithms that observe people.
The AI which recruits Ruslan and creates Panacea is the answer to all of these ills: a powerful predictive technology which can undermine the government. Although technology has mainly been used for evil, Drever’s AI shows that it can also be used for good. It is merely a tool, one which can change the world if it has the right humans alongside it.
I have to warn you, though: despite some moments of comedy, this is not a lighthearted story. It is the tale of a revolution, and hence includes violence and death. The mourning is an important part of the story, but it still weighs heavily on the reader.
I highly encourage you to read Panacea. This is a magnificent story which needs to be heard. As in real life, this revolution leaves survivors which will carry the torch, and keep fighting for freedom in the name of their fallen friends. Drever’s writing is powerful, and handles heavy themes with a deft touch and an unflinching commitment to the truth. At a time when laws are being passed that threaten people's right to protest in the UK, Panacea feels more necessary than ever, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has the slightest interest in politics, YA, or cyberpunk dystopias.
Note: a French review of this will be posted on, and added later on
Source for the right to protest being threatened:
Was this review helpful?
The year barely started and I already was pleasantly surprised with Panacea, which doesn't mean it was an easy reading. 
All the characters were compelling and even though we had different POVs, the author makes you crave for more of all of them, though I have to admit Ruslan's storyline was my favorite. 
The only thing that kinda annoyed me was how Ruslan and Zoee barely had met and he already seemed that in love, but it doesn't change how fantastic these characters and universe are.
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for this e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the publishers, author and NetGalley for the free copy of this book.

This was a good read. Complex and diverse, and a future I could see happening- with the political unrest and xenophobia at least. It took me a while to get into it because the switching of view points seemed to happen before I could really connect with a character, but other than that I enjoyed this.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy of Panacea by Charli Drever.

Set in a futuristic London, a group of young people find themselves up against an oppressive social system where families are forced to leave, resources are scarce, order is maintained by brute force and every move seems to be watched by the powers that be.

Each chapter takes on the voice of one of the characters in the book, which is a style of writing I enjoy.  I must say that if the story is not followed closely or a break is taken between reading chapters, it might be difficult to follow.  This story could have just as easily been told in the third person with the same effect, I feel.

There is a strong message throughout the book about standing up for the rights that we have as people and fighting for what is right and against the mistreatment of others.
Was this review helpful?
(3.5) Thank you for the ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I really wanted to love this - and I did mostly like it! I like sci-fi, but I can be quite picky. Firstly, I loved the representation. It can be ​an infamously bland genre when it comes to diversity, and it makes a very refreshing change. The concept was cool, brought up lots of interesting points about our current immigration policy/xenophobia/racism/discrimination in the uk, but I did feel like it lacked backstory and depth at times. And personally, for me, I felt like there were too many main characters and POVs and I struggled to keep track - especially in a sci-fi dystopia where so much of the story is already unfamiliar - and it makes it harder to get invested and follow a central character or two. Also, the contents of this book were a LOT heavier than I thought.
Was this review helpful?
Somehow, this just didn't resonate with me.  I'm not really one for the social justice genre.  It feels too forced, to me.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you to the author and Netgalley for providing an ebook in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This was dark but thrilling and I loved every second of it!

It's been so long since I read this and I just kept putting off reviewing this. Mostly because I've been procrastinating reviews in general. But like how do I put all my feelings in a review about this book!? Because I had so many. I really hope this is going to be a series!

Panacea is about a dystopian London that rations electricity based on how long you've been in the country. It also heavily discusses the racist and xenophobic policies that this country was built on. As someone from the USA, it was nice to finally see other white led countries have their dirty laundry aired so to speak. There are so many times other white-led developed countries consider racism to be a USA problem, but it's not. Yes it is rampant and very visibly destructive here, but that does not mitigate the problems faced elsewhere in a world ruled by white supremacy.

This book features a couple different POVs of teenagers in London of various backgrounds. There are so many different layers to privilege and I really loved how deeply it was dived into in this book. Not only that, but the way that fear and privilege intermingle and determine how someone acts. This book was so freaking good. There is a bunch of action, and a super cool AI that can turn humans into these wicked powerful cyborgs. The ending definitely had me feeling some kind of way, so I really need the author to bring us a book 2, pretty please!

Overall, I loved this book so much and I highly recommend it if you like sci-fi dystopian books.

Rep: queer Nigerian-British 1st gen immigrant female MC, bisexual Iraqi-British female MC, Belarusian-British 1st gen immigrant male MC, white British closeted lesbian with anxiety and OCD, bisexual female side character, trans male side character, South Asian male side character, Nigerian immigrant female side character, Black side character, nonbinary side character with a prosthetic arm, Polish immigrant male side character, Tanzania-British female side character.

CWs: Blood, child death, confinement, death, death of parent, gore, grief, gun violence, injury/injury detail, medical content, mental illness (anxiety & OCD), murder, panic attacks, police brutality, racism, violence, xenophobia. Moderate: concentration/internment camps. Brief: car accident (no one injured), sexual content.
Was this review helpful?
Thank you Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for qn honest review. 

Panacea by Charli Drever introduces a variety or very interesting characters. I liked each of them. Their personalities and relationships were enjoyable to read. I also liked that there was a lot of diversity with this story and believe the author did a good job of representing so many in this story. The thing that was missing for me was more of the back story I think that really would have bridged the story together in a more cohesive way if that was given. As such this is a 4 star read for me.
Was this review helpful?
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 👀
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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!
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.***
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
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.

Was this review helpful?