I received this book for free from Publicist in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi
Published by Atom on April 7th 2016
Everything Alix knows about her life is a lie--at least according to the mysterious young man who's been stalking her. But could her dad really be a bad guy at the helm of an organization that covers up the deadly wrongdoings of some of the country's most rich and powerful? Alix has to make an impossible choice between her father and the young man she's not only falling for, but who's asking her to blow the whistle on the man who raised her. Could someone you have loved and have known for your whole life actually have the heart of a killer?
Review: I’d heard a lot of positive things about Paolo Bacigalupi’s YA novels however hadn’t had the chance to really delve into his books, so when Hayley at EdPR offered me a review copy of The Doubt Factory I was thrilled.
The Doubt Factory tackles a subject I’ve not really seen explored in YA: PR and the power of a cover-up or spin. It specifically looks at companies which are employed by large corporations or powerful people to essentially create doubt; hence the doubt factory. While this may not sound a particularly exciting subject for YA, Bacigalupi frames it like a Hollywood thriller.
Alix is a girl who has a seemingly perfect, privileged life: she attends a highly selective private school, her parents are financially solid, she lives in a big house. However when an activist, Moses, comes onto the scene and starts asking Alix to question her dad about some things, everything changes. Suddenly the comfortable privilege she enjoys has an uncomfortable cost. Can her father really be helping ‘the bad guys’?
Bacigalupi takes a fascinating topic that for me almost felt like it belonged in a really great Good Wife episode and adds a YA twist to it. For me, this combined a lot of my personal interests as I am interested in politics and the power of words and the truly terrifying way words can change the meaning of everything. Bacigalupi’s rebel group elements, prank style attacks (there’s a notable one in the opening chapters at Alix’s school), and tensions don’t make this feel like a non-YA novel.
There were some aspects that did not work for me in The Doubt Factory. I felt the romance was a little rushed and with everything that happened earlier in the book, there were some slightly negative connotations to it that made it harder for me to root for – we don’t meet Moses in The Doubt Factory in an auspicious way and some of his behaviour is a little too easily excused by his cause. Aspects of the plot and 2.0 also require some suspension of disbelief but no more than any other film or or thriller novel does.
What worked for me was the concept and the exploration of the Doubt Factory. Alix worked well as a narrator and framing the story through seeing her dad without rose tinted glasses felt real. It was also an interesting way to frame the theme and worked well.
If you’re looking for a YA thriller with a scarily real subject then the Doubt Factory offers a lot. Thank you to Hayley at EdPR for sending me a copy for review.