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The Doubt Factory

Review

The Doubt Factory

What if your entire world was built on lies? And not just any kind of lies, bloody lies? Lies that are marked with the deaths of innocent people. And what if the people responsible for these lies were those that you loved and trusted the most? These are the main questions of Paolo Bacigalupi’s thriller novel THE DOUBT FACTORY. The story follows protagonist Alix Banks, a perfect girl with perfect grades at a perfect school with her perfect family. She has money and an Ivy League future, and everything just seems so perfect until one day she becomes the target of revolutionist group 2.0, led by the enigmatic Moses who continues to show up in her life and dropping hints that everything she knows is false. Things turn for the worse when she’s kidnapped by the group, and she soon learns the horrifying truth about her life and her family and the web of deception in which she has been trapped. From there, she must decide on whose side she will fight, and most importantly, she must decide who she will trust.

I don’t want to talk that much more about the intricacies of the plot because I don’t want to give away anything more about the story, since it is a very good one. Bacigalupi clearly has taken care to make sure every last detail fits perfectly in its place, and the result is a complex story that is riveting from start to finish. For besides the plot, the other standout feature was its pace. I read through this book so quickly, but I didn’t feel like I missed a thing. The pace was outstanding and kept me going from page to page.

I also want to applaud this book for tackling a very controversial issue that is extremely relevant to today’s world --- corrupt businesses working together with a corrupt government and harming many people. It’s something we hear about frequently these days, and I see Bacigalupi’s book as a call to arms, or, at the very least, a call to investigate and expose the immoral behavior that unfortunately runs rampant in our society.

Bacigalupi clearly has taken care to make sure every last detail fits perfectly in its place, and the result is a complex story that is riveting from start to finish.

But oddly enough, laced throughout the story is the quiet but resounding theme that not everyone is a crook and a criminal, and we should only doubt and go after those who are. I really appreciated that Bacigalupi had that in there because without it, the book would have drowned in cynicism and no matter how good the story was, people would probably walk away from the read feeling angry and overwhelmed. I commend  the author on making sure that wasn’t the case.

There were a few things that I took issue with in the story, and most of them lie in the character of Alix. I can’t lie --- it took me a very long time to become invested in her. When you first meet her, she is hard to relate to: she is rich, she goes to a fantastic private school, she’s naturally brilliant with a perfect GPA and she has a future at an Ivy League just sitting there waiting for her. I know that the intention was to introduce her as something of a naïve brat with no concept of the real world outside her class, but the point was driven a bit too far, and I found myself taking a while to care about what was happening to her. That’s not to say that I didn’t care about her by the end --- I did --- but only after she underwent her massive change, and it bothered me that it took so long for me to get to a place where I liked her.

Another thing I wasn’t so sure about was her relationship with Moses. I had no idea why she kept letting him into her life even though he had done dangerous things to her that threatened her life and her family. Her internal monologues didn’t reveal any kind of reasoning as to why she was into him and why she kept talking to him. When it was later brought up that they connected like that because they both somehow knew that Alix was different from the world she lived in, I didn’t buy it at all. She acted like she perfectly belonged in her world --- she didn’t start questioning anything until Moses and 2.0 came along. Also, I didn’t like the Stockholm Syndrome --- it came across as cliché.

I liked Moses’ character from start to finish --- he was fully realized and was always interesting and surprising me. I liked the other supporting characters that made up the rest of 2.0 as well. Though they didn’t have as much page time, they still were their own specific people. They each had a sliver of stereotype, but I didn’t really mind that too much. The moments when they grappled with giving up their chase because they were just kids was stark and real because many young people feel like they can’t make a difference. They can, just not in the ways they initially think. Many teens will relate to the 2.0 members’ struggles, and they will connect to the just causes they pursue.

I recommend THE DOUBT FACTORY most of all for the pulse-pounding story that definitely deserves a place among modern bookshelves. I was never bored for a second while reading this book, and as I read, it made me think about the structure of society. Though it made me afraid at certain points, I didn’t walk away from the book feeling like I could trust no one and the world was a horrible place. I walked away knowing that there are some bad people in this world who do bad things to good people, and those are the people we need to stop. And we do it with the help of those good people out there who want nothing more than to help others and fix the wounds of the world. Despite everything that happens in the book, I close the cover feeling a sense of hope. Because above all, this book asserts that no matter what happens, morality wins, even if you have take a few twisting roads to achieve it.

Reviewed by Corinne Fox on October 15, 2014

The Doubt Factory
by Paolo Bacigalupi

  • Publication Date: October 4, 2016
  • Genres: Thriller, Young Adult 12+
  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0316220760
  • ISBN-13: 9780316220767