Monday, October 16, 2017

The Innocence Treatment ~ Ari B Goelman (earc) review [@agoelman @FierceReads @MacKidsBooks]

The Innocence Treatment
Roaring Brook Press
October 17, 2017
304 pages
add to Goodreads/buy from Book Depository/or Amazon

You may believe the government protects you, but only one girl knows how they use you.

Lauren has a disorder that makes her believe everything her friends tell her--and she believes everyone is her friend. Her innocence puts her at constant risk, so when she gets the opportunity to have an operation to correct her condition, she seizes it. But after the surgery, Lauren is changed. Is she a paranoid lunatic with violent tendencies? Or a clear-eyed observer of the world who does what needs to be done?

Told in journal entries and therapy session transcripts, The Innocence Treatment is a collection of Lauren's papers, annotated by her sister long after the events of the novel. A compelling YA debut thriller that is part speculative fiction and part shocking tell-all of genetic engineering and government secrets, Lauren's story is ultimately an electrifying, propulsive, and spine-tingling read.
Sixteen-year-old Lauren Fielding lives in ta United States, in 2031, that is a mix of 1984 and The Program; The Department 'keeps everyone safe' and speaking out against them is far from a good idea. It may even be illegal.

As some struggle to accept the Emergency Act, the Department and all they mean for life, others are thankful for the safety and stability. And Lauren? She believes whatever anyone tells her - about the world, about how they feel, about anything. She takes everyone and everything at face value. If you say you're fine, she truly believes you are fine.

Her disorder makes her miss a lot and can be confusing (even watching movies or reading novels isn't enjoyable for her) So when the chance to 'fix' her presents itself< Lauren's thrilled.

Only, she's not a 'normal' person after the surgery, either.

Things get complicated and consing in all new ways and Lauren wonders what's better the ignroance she had or the paranoia she now has.

The Innocence Treatment is a fantastic near future YA thriller. Lauren and her story are the perfect way to present that world to us.  Not only do we get the 'new' paranoid Lauren but though her new understanding, her reinterpretation of past events we really see what 2031 is like, what the Department is like. Beyond that, we also get some great questions about life and knowledge and generally being human. In her struggle with her new self, Lauren wonders and works through things that many will be able to identify with.

I loved that the entire novel is presented as a nonfiction book published in 2041, from the Editor's Note at the beginning all the way through to the end. With this format we get Lauren's journal entries, but also notes (both from her doctor and in footnotes) that give you enough of what's coming for Lauren to up the anxiety and stress level (and the mystery) but not ruin any of the story.

Goelman's imagining of 2031 made for a great read with great social commentary and questions about what to value in life, what's important ("Why is that Dr Corbin? Why would I rather be unhappy than stupid? . .. What does it matter if other people thought I was stupid, as long as I was happy?" -pg 72).  Though, it's not a 2031 I want to see come to fruition.

digital review copy received from publisher, via NetGalley

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