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 funny thing about paranoia is it depends on the truth, right? I mean, it’s only paranoia if I’m wrong.”
Life has always been different for Lauren, who has an unexplained medical condition that forces her to believe every word she’s told. When a treatment is offered that can make her “normal”, she jumps at the chance, but the results brings on sudden, overwhelming paranoia.
This story reads as a non-fiction work compiled by Lauren’s sister, who switches between young Lauren’s journal entries and the therapy notes she was able to retrieve. The alternating timelines let us sample a bit at a time of each phase in Lauren’s life: pre-surgery and immediately post-surgery (as she is forming her suspicions), and a few months post-surgery (when she has committed herself to a psych ward and is neck deep in full-blown paranoia).
“I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but understanding other people is sort of terrible sometimes.”
The thought of not recognizing sarcasm or lies is baffling to me, but it was really interesting to watch Lauren change. Even her manner of speaking in her journal entries reflects the changes in her, as she starts off sounding incredibly young and innocent, and gradually grows to sound jaded and wronged. The depictions of her concerns will feel familiar to a lot of individuals who have struggled with anxiety and paranoia, as they feel super authentic and really suck you in to the drama.
You spend the bulk of the story getting down to the truth: is Lauren really suffering from delusions, or is the government out to get her? I won’t tell you that; you’ll have to pick this one up and find out for yourself!
I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I flew through it. The formatting makes for a very quick read, and while I never fully attached to the characters enough to 5-star this one, I am delighted to have read it and would be very interested in reading more from Ari B. Goelman. I believe that this is a standalone, and it ties up the loose ends well enough by the final chapter, but if it is extended into a series, I would be more than happy to continue it!
Content warnings: ableism, fat-shaming, violence, attempted sexual assault.
All quotes come from an unedited advance reading copy and may not match the quotes in the finished release. Thank you to Roaring Brook Press for providing me with this ARC in exchange for an honest review!
I’m Ari Goelman. I write fantasy novels. Stories, too.
My latest novel, due out in October, 2017, is The Innocent Treatment. Lauren Fielding is a sixteen-year-old high school student with a cognitive disability – she believes everything her friends tell her, and she believes that everyone is her friend. A cutting edge medical treatment helps Lauren, but after the treatment her mental condition soon veers into paranoia. Or does it? The Innocent Treatment comes out in October, 2017, but in the meantime you can read (a little) more about Lauren here. (You can also pre-order a copy here.)
My first novel, The Path of Names came out a few years ago. It’s a middle grade fantasy / murder mystery / ghost story. You can read lots more about it here. Or you could just read the book. Honestly, that’s probably a better idea.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE INNOCENCE TREATMENT! US only.
Click here for the giveaway!
10/9/2017- Howling Libraries– Review
10/10/2017- YA and Wine– Interview
10/11/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
10/12/2017- Kendra Loves Books– Review
10/13/2017- Lisa Loves Literature– Interview