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The Doubt Factory by Paolo Bacigalupi

The Doubt Factory

by Paolo Bacigalupi

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review to come ( )
  captainbooknerd | Jan 11, 2018 |
Shades of Cory Doctorow....this is a book about truth and lies and the manipulation that takes place when big companies want to hide or distort what is really happening. Our story begins with Alix who has just started her final year at school. She has a small group of friends including a new girl called Cynthia who has seamlessly slotted into her life. She goes to an exclusive private school, is a straight A student, is wealthy and her life is perfect. Until one day she looks out the biology lab window and sees a young black man smiling up at her. The smiling guy is confronted by the Principal so he punches him and then Alix's life is never the same. A huge prank with paint bombs, rats and swat teams a few days later finds her next to the same man in the gaping school crowd. He calls her by her name and Alix realizes that she is the target - the guy is a stalker - or is he? He asks her to speak to her father as she will find answers with him.
Suddenly Alix and her ADHD younger brother have bodyguards and there are security people watching the house...what is happening?
Meanwhile Alix is being watched on hidden cameras in her house and her every conversation tracked and listened to....all with a spectacular kidnapping in mind.

This is a story about trust...who can you trust to tell the truth? The story is told in 2 parts. The first part where Alix is kidnapped and told what is going on and the second part where a type of Stockholm Syndrome kicks in and she falls for her kidnapper and betrays her family.
The ending is a little too James Bond drifting into happily ever after for me but it kept me reading. ( )
  nicsreads | Sep 29, 2016 |
Alix, the privileged daughter of a man who is paid to protect the reputation of large Corporations by sowing doubt, falls into the hands of tech savvy orphan pranksters set on changing the world. Doubt invades her own life as she discovers that her bright future will not be the product of wholesome PR work after all and must decide what path she is on, despite both offering a reasonable outcome. Can she believe what she is told by either side?

I am a fan of Paolo BaciGalupi and believe he has one of the most unique and potentially important voices of this generation with his thorough manipulation of image-building language. He really rocked the imagination in the works ‘Ship Breaker’ and ‘the Windup Girl’. His talent and skill is more than impressive, and he hugely deserved every award. This book is not on the same level.

If a mediocre novelist had written the Doubt Factory, it would be considered a fine book and a good story executed with precision and mature talent. Bacigalupi is not a mediocre novelist, so this book feels forced and flat in comparison to what is expected. It is a complex story wrapped in brown paper wrapping. Sure it’s ecofriendly, but is it exciting? Yes, but in a utilitarian way not in an unexpected way. The characters are not surprising, the story is just another indictment of Corporate Greed and Big Pharma lies, the tech is just okay. Where is that Bacigalupi wonderment?

Read it like you are out to enjoy a solid YA tech thriller (which it is sort of), not a fantastically unique Bacigalupi mind journey (which it is not). That’s about it. For a well written YA thriller, I give it 3.5 stars, but for a Paolo Bacigalupi original, I give it 1.5.

This review and others at annevolmering.com. ( )
  avolm | Feb 26, 2016 |
Recommended for fans of Cory Doctorow's YA fiction.

The theme and feel here seriously reminded me more of Doctorow than Bacigalupi. Now, I quite like Doctorow, so that's no insult. It's got hackers, activists, and thoughts on information (and disinformation).

But I have to admit - this just wasn't as good as I expected. I've absolutely loved pretty much everything else Bacigalupi has published, so I had very high expectations.

Here, we've got Alix, a rich, white, privileged private school kid. She's sort of the stand-in for the audience that Bacigalupi is hoping to convince, here. (And make no mistake, the aims of this book are #1. to convince, and only #2. to tell an entertaining story.) Unfortunately, Alix and her life are not wholly convincing. She and her family feel like "the 1% as imagined by the 99%." (It's no Donna Tartt - now she can write spoiled brats.) But of course, Alix isn't like the other spoiled brats at her elite school. She's Special and Different.

These qualities are immediately seen by the hacktivist who's stalking her - an orphaned black teen, who just happens to be super-duper-hot. He and his radical alternative crew have an agenda that involves Alix - who will soon find her loyalties torn between her loving family, and the guy who calls himself "2.0" (because, y'know, he's hot.)

The main plot points hinge on the idea of "everyone thinks anyone challenging the status quo must be a conspiracy theorist, but that's not always true." It aims to encourage people (hopefully, the wealthy, influential youth who will be tomorrow's leaders) to challenge accepted ideas, and become activists. It talks about how it's important to present your ideas in such a way that you won't be perceived as a whack-job.

I agree with all this, incidentally.
Unfortunately, the book is not 100% successful at not sounding conspiracy-theory-ish. It is very good at introducing the concepts of these two books - referenced in-text - to younger readers:

However, it's very vague about how to actually sort out 'junk science' from actual science. It is very dismissive about the possibility that frivolous lawsuits really do exist. It makes a little bit of an effort to show how regular people can accomplish 'evil' goals - but in the end, it ends up painting the villains as pure evil and the opposition as pure good, in such a way that I felt it was unconvincing, and weakened the book's arguments.

Overall - it's not bad. But it really could've been better.

Copy provided by NetGalley - many thanks for the opportunity to read.
( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
This is a novel about drug companies and the PR machine that helps them keep making money. A young-adult suspense tale, the book’s main character is torn between destroying her family and letting the machine keep pulling the wool over people’s eyes. Tightly cinematic, I can see this coming soon to the big screen at a Cineplex near you. ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
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"When a radical band of teen activists [claims] that Alix's powerful father covers up wrongdoing by corporations that knowingly allow innocent victims to die in order to make enormous profits from unsafe products, she must decide if she will blow the whistle on his misdeeds"--

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