>Build 1.0

This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.

Buy this Book on

You must sign in to see if this title is available for request.
Pub Date 9 Jul 2021 | Archive Date 8 Mar 2022

Talking about this book? Use #panacea #NetGalley. More hashtag tips!


Charli Drever's stunningly emotional, frantic, genre-spanning debut Panacea is a YA science fiction thriller masterclass.

"This book was simply amazing." - @justafaebookworm

After empath Tio uses violence to protect her friend from police brutality during an arrest over an electricity curfew violation, she knows her partying days are over. Avoiding drones and augmented soldiers, she goes on the run, crossing London toward the free-land of Scotland.

After hapless cynic Ruslan is told it's now illegal for people like him to go to college, he gets a mysterious message offering him a new future outside school and his petty theft side hustle. He meets an artificial intelligence offering him robotic enhancement to his body, and a job. A job helping Tio escape.

When Felicity hears that Tio needs help, she wants to do everything she can to help, even if it's a million miles from her comfortable life and against everything her parents believe in.

And when Alex comes round from unconsciousness, blind in one eye from the police beating that started it all, she just wants the whole world to burn.

They're all key players in a plan to change the world.

That plan has a name: The Panacea.

And one among them will be chosen to lead it all.

Panacea: >Build 1.0 is a genre-spanning soft science fiction fugitive thriller novel set 20 years into the future in a stagnant and decayed London, and follows a diverse BAME/BIPOC and LGBT+ group of 16 and 17 year-olds as they’re dragged into the heart of the country’s politics. Character-focused, frantic, and with a hefty emotional heart, this debut novel by author Charli Drever is full of humour and personal triumph, but also tragedy and fury.

Charli Drever's stunningly emotional, frantic, genre-spanning debut Panacea is a YA science fiction thriller masterclass.

"This book was simply amazing." - @justafaebookworm

After empath Tio uses...

Advance Praise

"This book was simply amazing. It was so well written and I literally couldn't put it down." - @justafaebookworm

"This book was simply amazing. It was so well written and I literally couldn't put it down." - @justafaebookworm

Available Editions

ISBN 9798510281262

Available on NetGalley

NetGalley Shelf App (EPUB)
Send to Kindle (MOBI)
Download (EPUB)

Average rating from 24 members

Featured Reviews

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.

Was this review helpful?

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

Was this review helpful?

Readers who liked this book also liked: