Title: The Innocence Treatment
Author: Ari Geolman
Blurb (taken from Goodreads):
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.
The beauty of the epistolary novel is that it allows you to dig into the private thoughts of a character, and makes the book feel more real. The Innocence Treatment handles this so well that I sometimes felt like I was reading a nonfiction book, but set in an alternate universe. It is extremely well-structured, alternating between diary entries from a younger Lauren, to the present-day Lauren as she discusses these entries with a therapist. Geolman managed to give each character their unique voice, but also to keep the different formats from blending into one another.
For instance, Lauren’s diary entries are annotated by her sister, and readers can clearly see the different writing styles between the two sisters. The therapy sessions are written down as a conversation between the two characters, and you can recognize (especially further in the book) that Lauren’s voice is her own, recognizable from her diary entries, while the therapist’s is his. It’s also interesting to see the point of views from different characters, and how they think of one another.
The content itself grabbed my attention early on and held onto it throughout the entire story. With the formatting of the novel, we get many unreliable narrators, and this keeps you guessing until the very end about how the book will be wrapped up. It is also a dystopia, but the story revolves more around Lauren’s life within this world, and doesn’t only revolve around her fighting this dystopia. It contains a story about a family affected by constraints of this supervised world, without necessarily revolving around how they are all working to suppress the regime. It was refreshing to read!
Honestly, though, this book makes me wish I was still in university so I could dissect it through an essay on the difficulty of mastering the epistolary style and its strength if done correctly. Geolman wrote what became one of my favourite books of 2017 and I highly recommend it.
I’d like to thank Roaring Brook Press and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.