In the near future in the USA, debt is inheritable. People live in extreme poverty, can be branded as debtors and dragged off to prison. The ultra rich have a solution – debtors can become Dociles, indentured servants that must do everything their master demands. Bishop Laboratories has invented Dociline, a drug which, when injected, makes the person lose their own wants and needs and do whatever they are told.
Elisha’s family has so much debt he is worried one of them will end up in debtors prison. He decides to go and offer himself as a Docile, before his father sees through his plan to send his 13 year old sister.
Alex Bishop III, current CEO of Bishop Laboratories, has been threatened by his father. He must find either a partner or a Docile or lose his position.
Alex offers Elisha a contract he can’t refuse, and, at Alex’s birthday party, Elisha exercises one of his seven rights and refuses to have Dociline injected. His mother has been a Docile for 10 years and has been damaged by the drug.
Alex is distressed – how is he supposed to trust this stranger in his house? He sets out to break Elisha with everything he can think of, including rape, bondage, confinement and more. Elisha becomes a very well behaved off-med Docile. And Alex falls in love.
CW for rape and sexual assault, brainwashing, suicide, anxiety and other mental health issues.
I love what Szpara has done with this book. It is a wonderful exploration of what consent is, both in and out of the bedroom. It is also a statement about capitalism (which you can probably guess from the tagline.)
Szpara’s examination of capitalism is both intense and uncomfortable. It has left me wondering about how much unintentional harm I am doing to others with my purchases.
Like Elisha, I wanted to hate Alex, and yet I couldn’t. He was a wonderfully sympathetic character brought up with so much privilege that he didn’t recognise it until it slapped him in the face. And when it did, he tried to do better. I was rooting for Elisha the whole way through, and his journey is incredibly painful and difficult.
The ending is incredibly conflicting! No spoilers, but I would really love a sequel.
Have you read this one? Chat to me in the comments!