Title: The Doubt Factory
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Genre: Young Adult
Category: 25. Read an indie book, where the publisher is a small or niche house and not one of the top 6 publishers (Atom)
Date Started: February 7th 2017
Date Finished: February 10th 2017
The perfect book for the amateur conspiracy theorist, The Doubt Factory explores the question of just how much we can trust the brands and products we’re using. Specifically the pharmaceuticals that many of us need just to stay alive. Are these same pharmaceuticals actually killing us?
Alix has lived a very sheltered and affluent life going to the best private school money can buy with a house that many of us would be envious of and a perfectly boring suburban family. Her dad works long hours, her mum keeps the house in order, she gets good grades and her younger brother is always getting himself into trouble. Perfectly normal. Her friends are also perfectly normal, their private school kids just like her, who’s parents work and earn enough money to also send them to private schools. Her afternoons are spent in Starbucks with friends, going to the mall or doing homework. At least until 2.0 shows up and things start getting weird for Alix.
A prank at school that she is told is all her fault, then her brother runs off and her dad starts freaking out. Why does 2.0 have it in for her family and why is she now stuck with Death Barbie following her around all the time to keep her safe?
As the plot begins to unfold so do the questions, like falling down a rabbit hole, one after another. And Alix does feel kind of like she’s falling down a rabbit hole as her perfectly regular life begins to unravel around her.
The book is a bit slow to get started, but once it does it’s a fascinating exploration of the way we embrace new products without really knowing the risks they pose to us. Is your asthma medication going to put you in a coma? Is aspirin going to kill your kid? Yes, this is a novel and as such slightly dramatised, but it does make you wonder just how much you know about the products you’re using and how they’re regulated.
Despite the subject matter this is a nice easy read, the language straightforward and the concepts well explained, after all it is a young adult book. Some of the twists I saw coming, some of them I didn’t which is always a plus from me. If you can handle a story that builds slowly and a somewhat dense main character (at least for the first half of the book) then you should give The Doubt Factory a chance.