A Rogue Librarian's Reading List

{October 9, 2014}   The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

doubt factoryPlot: Everything that Alix believes about her life and her father is a lie. Or at least that’s what the young, brilliant vandal who is stalking her wants her to believe. But Alix doesn’t simply accept either of their claims. She begins an investigation that takes her to the very heart of her father’s industry.

This review is based on a review copy received through Netgalley.

I love Bacigalupi. Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities are favorites of mine so I picked up this book with no idea what it was about, sure I would love it no matter what. It is a very different sort of story than his post-apocalyptic novels. This is a smart thriller that carefully examines the PR firms protecting pharmaceutical companies – among others – by casting doubt. A lot of the novel is careful research (the librarian in me loves Alix and her research so very much) and investigation but there are also a few brilliantly executed pranks and some high risk, high intensity confrontations.

This is a novel that makes you think and doubt. It is a novel that doesn’t give you all the answers or neat conclusions. This is not for everyone but it is very well executed and never talks down to teen readers.

The romance is deeply problematic with hints of obsession and Stockholm syndrome among other things. Alix and Moses are two characters whose intelligence and determination compliment each other but this is no destined, romantic love if that’s what you’re looking for. But then this novel is about trust, not love. Alix is working through her trust for the people in her life and for the very foundation that her privileged life rests upon. Besides, both Alix and Moses are fascinating for reasons that have nothing to do with their relationship.

It is also worth noting that Bacigalupi gives us a very diverse cast: different races and sexualities as well as women in a variety of roles. I look forward to a day when this is no longer worth noting but at the moment I find it refreshing to find so much diversity without it being the central issue of the novel, or an issue at all. And while I have reservations about the romance, I love how Moses’ diverse crew works together, argue and support each other.

Final verdict: not my favorite Bacigalupi but a solid, well plotted and researched novel that really makes you question what you believe.

2014 (#53)


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