Docile
There is no consent under capitalism Docile is a science fiction parable about love and sex, wealth and debt, abuse and power, a challenging tour de force that at turns seduces and startles.To be a Docile is to be kept, body and soul, for the uses of the owner of your contract. To be a Docile is to forget, to disappear, to hide inside your body from the horrors of your service. To be a Docile is to sell yourself to pay your parents' debts and buy your children's future.Elisha Wilder’s family has been ruined by debt, handed down to them from previous generations. His mother never recovered from the Dociline she took during her term as a Docile, so when Elisha decides to try and erase the family’s debt himself, he swears he will never take the drug that took his mother from him. Too bad his contract has been purchased by Alexander Bishop III, whose ultra-rich family is the brains (and money) behind Dociline and the entire Office of Debt Resolution. When Elisha refuses Dociline, Alex refuses to believe that his family’s crowning achievement could have any negative side effects—and is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect Docile without it.

Docile Details

TitleDocile
Author
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherTor.com
ISBN-139781250216151
Rating
GenreScience Fiction, LGBT, Fiction, GLBT, Queer, Adult

Docile Review

  • Chaima ✨ شيماء
    January 1, 1970
    the gay intern at Tor who wrote the following description of the book on Twitter deserves a raise:"Dramatic Trillionaire ContentBDSM & then some more BDSM & then a lot more BDSMHurt/comfort & hurt/no comfortCinnamon roll of steelThe most scandalous kink: loveCourtroom drama, bedroom drama, Preakness dramaDebt & Decadence"
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  • Elise (TheBookishActress)
    January 1, 1970
    most publishers currently: oh well I guess we can start including lgbtq characters in our books, occasionally, maybeTor.com, intellectuals: they’re all gay. they’re all gay and we don’t make the rules
  • Melanie
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by Tor in exchange for an honest review."DOCILE is like eating a chocolate and you find half a spider inside but the spider is also your ability to love yourself, an ability you sold to a bad man for some stale bread." - Tamsyn Muir My most anticipated 2020 release? Perhaps. Also, Tor.com is so far ahead of every single other publishing house. Good Lord, their power. I'm quaking. Youtube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Twitch
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  • destiny ♡⚔♡ [howling libraries]
    January 1, 1970
    THIS SYNOPSIS. I WANT IT. "There is no consent under capitalism."*SCREAMING*
  • James Lafayette Tivendale
    January 1, 1970
    I received an uncorrected proof copy of Docile in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank K. M. Szpara and Tor for the opportunity. Docile is the story of Elisha. He is a young gentleman who volunteers to become a Docile to pay off his parents' debt which is at a catastrophic amount of 3,000,000. If he had not proposed this then his mother and father would have been placed in debtors prison. A docile is essentially a slave. They become the property of the patron who pays off their I received an uncorrected proof copy of Docile in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank K. M. Szpara and Tor for the opportunity. Docile is the story of Elisha. He is a young gentleman who volunteers to become a Docile to pay off his parents' debt which is at a catastrophic amount of £3,000,000. If he had not proposed this then his mother and father would have been placed in debtors prison. A docile is essentially a slave. They become the property of the patron who pays off their debt in exchange for a set time of service. For the £3,000,000 to be cleared Elisha is to be the property of his patron for life. Most individuals who are forced into this life of slavery tend to take a drug called Dociline. It's a drug to make the dociles obedient. It leads them to have the charisma of a robot or a zombie yet most beneficial for the takers is that they don't really know what horrible tasks, duties or punishments are being forced upon them. It is a brainwashing drug. Elisha, having witnessed the effects of Dociline on his mother vows to refuse to take the drug, which is one of his rights. He will be completely aware of what happens to him during his time as a docile which, of course, is for the rest of his life and may not be very pleasant. In addition to Elisha's first-person point of view perspective, we also follow the trillionaire Dr. Alex Bishop who becomes Elisha's patron in the first-person too. Alex is the CEO of the company that creates Dociline and wanted Elisha to be his guinea pig for a new version he is hoping to release to market. When Elisha refuses to accept the drug, as is his right, Alex is frustrated yet decides to mould him as he wishes as he owns him for life and can do with him anything he wishes... and I mean anything.This is a queer dystopian novel that is often uncomfortable to read, extremely graphic in nature, is thrilling, beautifully written and yet is often a mind-fuck and has quite a few trigger warnings to discuss. Although other reviewers have referred to this as science fiction, it never really came across that way to me as what is presented is far too close to our current reality. Some of what happens here is not that farfetched when analysing where the human race could be heading in the near future. Docile features BDSM, explicit gay and group sex scenes, torture and punishments, suicide attempts, and rape scenes sometimes from the first person point of view of the rapist. At this point, Elisha is a piece of meat that Alex uses whenever he fancies. It also presents love, friendship, family, and how people change, especially the two main characters over the length of the narrative. Although it's often uncomfortable to read and is probably the first novel I've read that has incorporated gay sex scenes that were this explicit and detailed I have to admit that Docile is a masterpiece of dystopian fiction. I'm pretty certain that I've read nothing like it. It was engaging and I completely lost myself in the narrative. It made me question our reality, the gravity of debt, my sexuality occasionally, and however horrid some of the actions committed by Alex were, I never really hated him. If anything I often felt sorry for him which shows Szpara's talent to make me care about someone who I should have straight away written off as an utter bastard. It took me three days to read these 500 or so pages and the finale of this standalone novel is actually nice and fitting which was a surprise after many of the nightmare segments throughout. Docile is an exquisite, well-written and often uncomfortable mindfuck of a debut release. I'll be following Szpara's career closely. Recommended.
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  • Tucker
    January 1, 1970
    Me: Can I have an ARC?Publicist #1: NoMe: OkayMe: *asks another publicist************It's sci-fi and m/m romance.MY HEART IS PALPITATING! | Goodreads | Blog | Pinterest | LinkedIn | YouTube | Instagram
  • Jenia
    January 1, 1970
    Content warning: rape (also from the POV of the rapist), dubious consent, sexual harassment.Docile is set in near-ish-future Maryland, at a time when people who’ve amassed debt can erase it by selling themselves into (usually temporary) slavery. Most slaves take “Dociline”, a type of drug that makes a person highly obedient and keeps them from forming long-term memories. This way, they don’t have to remember what happened to them. For Elisha Wilder, however, Dociline isn’t an option. His mom had Content warning: rape (also from the POV of the rapist), dubious consent, sexual harassment.Docile is set in near-ish-future Maryland, at a time when people who’ve amassed debt can erase it by selling themselves into (usually temporary) slavery. Most slaves take “Dociline”, a type of drug that makes a person highly obedient and keeps them from forming long-term memories. This way, they don’t have to remember what happened to them. For Elisha Wilder, however, Dociline isn’t an option. His mom had taken it while serving her ten-year sentence, and she never fully recovered; he’s terrified of losing himself as she did. Elisha is bought by Alex, whose family invented Dociline. When Elisha refuses to take the drug, the shocked Alex is determined to turn Elisha into the perfect slave without it.Okay. Right. The tagline for this book is, There is no consent under capitalism. I think that gave me pretty incorrect assumptions about what it would be, and I guess that’s on me. In short, this book is standard slavefic.For those of you not in the fanfic community, slavefic is… exactly what it says. A story that focuses on how one character is enslaved to another. Such stories generally come in two broad varieties: Type A is about a (hot) master breaking in a new slave, while Type B is about a slave recovering from past abuse (usually with the help of a (hot) new master who’s horrified by slavery). And because slavefic is a proper subgenre, like e.g. farmboy fantasy, it comes with its own tropes. The master-who's-never-wanted-a-slave suddenly needs to acquire one for vague "societal pressure" reasons! Crazy rich people parties where the slave is rented out to the master's friends! (Alternatively, the master may growl they're mine! and refuse to rent them out.) The master's jealous ex who hates how obsessed the master is with their new slave! The recovering ex-slave gets to choose their own clothes for the first time and is overwhelmed by the experience! Bucketfuls of angst about whether the master-slave relationship can truly be called love! Buttplugs!And Docile is, well... a very by-the-numbers slavefic. Because it’s a super niche subgenre, I’m struggling with how to word my critique for a broader audience. If you’ve never encountered slavefic before, then the broad question the book asks is quite compelling: is love possible when there is monetary pressure involved? If you do know the genre, then the book’s blandness makes it hard to take that question seriously. I’m just saying, I think it’s possible to examine the issue of consent without Alex taking Elisha’s virginity a couple hours after they meet and then sticking a buttplug up his butt to hold the semen in him for the night. But you can’t write slavefic without it, jazz hands.(Side-note: I know you think I’m some world-weary pervert, but Alex “locks” the buttplug with a fingerprint lock and I was so confused by how that mechanism would work that I ended up questioning two friend groups about it. Which led to some fierce buttplug debate. With diagrams.)Once I readjusted my expectations to slavefic, I also readjusted what I wanted out of the book. The goal of slavefic is, of course, Feels-with-a-capital-F. Unfortunately, I didn’t find any of the characters likable. I did feel bad for Elisha, but he spends most of the book as a severely traumatised slave in love with his abusive master; the feeling was more frustrated pity than sympathy. I was sincerely hoping that super-privileged, super-naïve, self-pitying Alex would get murdered in a slave revolt by chapter 7. I don't mind entertaining asshole love interests, like Laurent in Captive Prince or Cardan in Cruel Prince, but I do need them to be entertainingly awful. Alex is more like the rich white guy in your literature class: not evil, just privileged enough that hanging out with him is an exercise in teeth-grinding. The other characters don’t get that much focus. Special shout-out, however, goes to Elisha’s dad, who bullies him for having learned fancy-pants big-city piano playing skills while being a sex slave to save his whole family from debt.I think Docile would have worked better for me if the world was fleshed out more. People inherit their family’s debt and if they don’t pay up by a certain point they get thrown in “debtor’s prison”. (Not sure which point specifically: Elisha’s family is already three million in debt when he sells himself, but some guy who “only” has 200k college debt is also selling himself.) I think the point of the debtor’s prison is to make it clear that Elisha is becoming a slave “by choice”. But I never quite got what choice B is — what horrible tortures are happening in prison that make sex slavery preferable. I had other questions too. What does the rest of the world think about the US bringing back slavery, this time with brainwashing drugs? On a global market, how economically competitive is it to have a significant part of your workforce be brainwashed slaves in the 21st (22nd?) century? The 200k college debt guy went to uni for philosophy -- how has academia not collapsed yet?! (I realise Americans nowadays also go into severe debt for uni, but at the moment the answer to, "What's the worst that can happen if I follow my dreams instead of studying something 'practical'?" isn't "Spend 10-odd years as a drugged-to-the-gills sex slave".) But this wasn't that type of book.One last note I want to emphasise again is that there is a lot of explicit non-consensual and “dubiously consensual” sex in this book. A fair amount is kink-based (some of the kink-based play is consensual, with safewords). If you’re not comfortable with that for whatever reason, definitely stay away. This is pretty typical for slavefic, but one aspect in particular really bothered me. Spoilers: (view spoiler)[Two of the characters who Elisha is forced to have (manual and oral) sex with while a slave are actually members of the anti-slave resistance. One of them was pretending to be a slave on Dociline. This further traumatised Elisha as he believed himself complicit in having “taken advantage of” someone who could consent even less than he could. It really, really bothered me that the two resistance members just go, “Oh, sorry about that” and that's it. Nobody ever brings it up again, not even when Elisha goes on to have a sexual relationship with the fake slave he'd had nightmares about taking advantage of. (hide spoiler)]Anyway, in short. If you thought the book was gonna be some in-depth critique of capitalism where commies pop out from behind the bushes and yell, “Ahaaa, but isn’t all work slavery because of the implicit threat of starvation otherwise, vive la Universal Basic Income!”, Docile is not for you. If you’ve read more than, say, three slavefics before and get the basic idea, Docile might or might not be for you. But if you’re curious about slavefic and aren’t sure how to navigate AO3, maybe pick up Docile? I guess?P.S. There's also the whole... thing of setting this book in the US specifically, a country which historically had institutionalised race-based slavery, which I don't feel is my place to pick apart. Here's a link to a review that did.
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  • Dennis
    January 1, 1970
    Docile is one of my most anticipated reads for 2020 so thank you Tor Books for this advanced copy. It's safe to say that Docile is one of my favorite reads for the year. Set in a near-future dystopian world, Maryland, the setting for this story, passes the Next of Kin Law where debt cannot be erased by death or bankruptcy, but passed down for generations. Families crippled by healthcare costs, student loans, and other expenses value up to the millions and the disparity between the rich and Docile is one of my most anticipated reads for 2020 so thank you Tor Books for this advanced copy. It's safe to say that Docile is one of my favorite reads for the year. Set in a near-future dystopian world, Maryland, the setting for this story, passes the Next of Kin Law where debt cannot be erased by death or bankruptcy, but passed down for generations. Families crippled by healthcare costs, student loans, and other expenses value up to the millions and the disparity between the rich and the poor has never been more profound. In order for families to pay off the debt, adults may enter into contractually authorized partnerships with wealthy individuals. In return for substantial money, either paying entire debts or partial, the debtor will live an extended period time as a "docile". By accepting this role, you essentially are a slave, and the person who is paying off the debt can essentially do whatever they want (with a few exceptions). Some dociles are servants and housekeepers, some are companions, and some can be sex slaves. In order to make the process a bit more manageable, medical company Bishop Laboratories created a formula, Dociline. This formula helps dociles relax and become subservient—allowing for their term to go more smoothly. Elisha Wilder is the older son of David and Abigail, and they also have a daughter Abby. The family has crippling debt so Elisha decides to enter the Docile Program. He would never have expected that Alexander Bishop III, heir to Bishop Laboratories, would select him as a docile in hopes of having a disciplined companion that would calm his parents' anxiety about finding a partner. What's the worst that can happen? I will not go any further than here with any synopsis notes—READ IT AND FIND OUT! You won't be disappointed. Docile is dark—seriously folks, there's graphic rape in this book so I am putting this disclaimer now for anyone who is excited about picking this book up. While the book is dark, it is also very erotic and hot at times, which was unexpected. What?! Docile is a dystopian 50 Shades of Gay. I've never read anything like it and for that, I'm thankful. For years now, I've been reading LGBT romance(ish) novels and have been bored to tears. The book either "fades to black" during the sex scenes, or the characters are unrealistic and unrelatable. To my last point about characters being unrealistic and unrelatable, Author KM Szpara changes the landscape in Docile with character development. I loved every single character in this book. Whether or not they were meant to be likeable, that's up for debate. Every single character in this story has a purpose and it keeps the story moving. At almost 500 pages, Docile feels like it will be long read, however I finished this book in two sittings. I could not put it down. Docile is one of the most bingeworthy books I've read in a long time. It's very unapologetic and dark, so it's definitely not for everyone, and that's ok. The ending is not only satisfying, but provides a possible series introduction (FINGERS CROSSED, PLEASE KM SZPARA!!). Docile will be out March 3, 2020, and I will make sure every single one of you puts this book on your TBR!
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  • Charlie Anders
    January 1, 1970
    Don't call KM Szpara's Docile a dystopia. This book is something much stranger and yet closer to our own reality. Szpara has an amazing gift for immersing us in a world of exploitation and unbearable tenderness, and making it feel familiar and inescapable. Reading Docile changed me and left me with a new awareness of the structures of oppression that surround me. This book is an unforgettable story of human connection and the struggle to remain yourself in a world of debtors and creditors.
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  • Liz
    January 1, 1970
    My general opinion of Docile by K.M. Szpara is that it was fine. The writing was beyond excellent, lots of delicious word pictures. The indulgent decadence of the upper-class, the fine layers of dust over everything else, the quiet horror of a terrible system, the lush descriptions of this Maryland society. Love that for this book! Docile wants me to take it seriously, so let me a downer for a few paragraphs. Perhaps the real lesson of Docile is of tempering expectations. The hype around it, My general opinion of Docile by K.M. Szpara is that it was fine. The writing was beyond excellent, lots of delicious word pictures. The indulgent decadence of the upper-class, the fine layers of dust over everything else, the quiet horror of a terrible system, the lush descriptions of this Maryland society. Love that for this book! Docile wants me to take it seriously, so let me a downer for a few paragraphs. Perhaps the real lesson of Docile is of tempering expectations. The hype around it, that gorgeous tagline, I was expecting something very different from what I got. I waited for this book to pop the fuck off, to shred itself to pieces, to point a finger at me before punching me in the gut. Instead, it existed in a very specific set of tropes, of narrative beats, and rarely veered off-course. If you’ve ever read more than one slavefic, you know the drill. Obviously, I knew to expect the tropes this book included, but I wish it leaned more into its other concepts. It has a lot going on in regards to ethics of labor, consent (obviously), capitalism, all that good shit. Unfortunately, it doesn’t dig exceptionally deep and rarely frames itself on a larger scale. The world-building leaves a lot out, which creates a necessity to suspend your belief on…many, many things. For example: (view spoiler)[ The system of slavery as debt relief has been in place for decades, but we’re only shown one resistance organization that’s steeped in patronizing liberalism. No grassroots, no rebellions, people just…accepted it? (hide spoiler)] Furthermore, the reinstatement of slavery is contained to Maryland, and I’m wondering how the rest of the country and the world responded. If there was a response at all. There’s a substantial amount of logistical hand-waving, which is totally fine, but not what I was expecting from such an involved idea. A pretty big part of the plot is Elisha’s mother’s experience with Dociline, and, again, it’s difficult to believe that no one else tried to report or punish those responsible. Also, I totally get that Docile is a sci-fi parable, but I couldn’t help consider current conversations on sex work and consent and drug use/addiction and money and SLAVERY. Do the Black people in this universe have no feelings about this at all? There are zero mentions of any form of sex work in this world, which…does it exist? I JUST HAVE A LOT OF QUESTIONS, K.M. SZPARA. Elisha and Alex aren’t the most compelling of narrators. I obviously sympathized with Elisha and rooted for him, but there was never a spark I connected to with either of them. Their development is also fairly predictable. (view spoiler)[Elisha learns how to be a real boy after months of brainwashing! Alex learns that slaves are people and *gasp* he’s been complicit in their suffering this whole time! (hide spoiler)] There are several side characters who add different perspectives to the story and, frankly, I enjoyed the women so much more than the men. I was incredibly turned off by one side character, though. (view spoiler)[ Onyx is introduced as an “on-med” (a debtor using Dociline) and has a non-consensual encounter with Elisha as their “patrons” (contract owners) watch. Elisha is understandably traumatized and it hangs over him. Later, Onyx is revealed to be an undercover spy and was sober for the encounter. All kinds of fucked up! They engage in a consensual BDSM dynamic, but Onyx is pretty unsympathetic to Elisha’s trauma. Also….naming the only prominent dark-skinned Black man “Onyx”…..I’ll see myself out. (hide spoiler)] I wanted Docile to go deeper. It landed on as horny on main with a vague conscience. There aren't really any consequences for wrongdoings. (view spoiler)[Alex's life is absolutely upended, but that's more a result of growing a conscience than any true punishment. (hide spoiler)]Ultimately, I was of two minds. It was enjoyable for me! It was fine! If you like slavefic and the tropes it contains (rape, dubious consent, Feelings, Angst, picking out clothes, etc.) then you might like Docile. If you’ve never encountered these tropes, because they’re EXTREMELY THERE, or you’re expecting the narrative to do some serious dismantling, you might go elsewhere. Docile is for readers with very specific tastes.Edit (10/20/19): This little prickly thought has really been on my mind since I wrote this review, and I just have to talk it out. If a white author uses slavery as a focal point of their book's plot, a plot that revolves around dismantling capitalism and consent in AMERICA, there needs to be a serious interrogation of like...context, history, trauma on the bodies of BIPOC. It was like slavery and racism never existed in Docile and that continues to bother me! It's bothersome to have two white narrators as the lenses through which we see the horrors of slavery, because UH...all of these things happened to BIPOC! I get the heady, sexy, sharp appeal of Docile, I do, that's why I requested an ARC in the first place and I'm not trying to take the moral high ground on slavefic because that's a whole thing. But y'all...this book did not push hard enough into what it wants to be for me to push aside what it's left out.
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  • Freya Marske
    January 1, 1970
    Do you ever find yourself thinking, "Gee, I wish CAPTIVE PRINCE and PRETTY WOMAN would have an alarming baby that they then dressed in pastel button-downs and frat boy glasses"?WELL THENThis is a smart, super-readable m/m social-sci-fi romance novel about debt slavery, the complexities of consent, and OUR INEVITABLE CAPITALIST HELLSCAPE. I read my ARC at the speed of light and had a wonderful time.
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  • Emily A. Duncan
    January 1, 1970
    This book held me by the throat and punched me in the face and I said thank you very much.
  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    I still have no ARC. :(---Who do I have to kidnap to get an early copy?Jk. But srsly I need dis I still have no ARC. :(---Who do I have to kidnap to get an early copy?Jk. But srsly I need dis 😱 💸💸💸
  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    Thank you very much to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. There is no consent under capitalism. Docile is an unforgettable dystopian novel that draws the uncomfortable reader in, making you feel safe and warm ... before ripping out your heart and while you're crying on the ground, gives you a swift kick on the way out. So yes, I adored it. It's a phenomenal story that dismantles wildly abusive power structures, while discussing issues Thank you very much to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. There is no consent under capitalism. Docile is an unforgettable dystopian novel that draws the uncomfortable reader in, making you feel safe and warm ... before ripping out your heart and while you're crying on the ground, gives you a swift kick on the way out. So yes, I adored it. It's a phenomenal story that dismantles wildly abusive power structures, while discussing issues surrounding consent and the dangers of capitalism. Szpara handles these difficult topics with nuance and sensitivity, and proves that he is an author that's going places. I can't wait to read more of his exceptional work. Prepare yourself to fall head over heels into Elisha's incredible story. This is a book you won't be able to put down. "You're going to do just fine without me, Elisha Wilder. You're going to be amazing." Longer review to come closer to the 2020 March release date.
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  • Taylor Brooke
    January 1, 1970
    I READ THIS BOOK IN A DAY. I don't normally do that, pals. Anyway. This is a tough book. It deals with a romance I hated myself for routing for, social and political dynamics that were chilling to recognize as potentially near-future ideals, and it has a cast of incredible Queer characters. The close first person POVs had me turning pages well into the night. This is a gritty, sexy, uncomfortable book with a razor-sharp hook and a hopeful ending. Get ready to cry. Get ready to scream "ALEX, YOU I READ THIS BOOK IN A DAY. I don't normally do that, pals. Anyway. This is a tough book. It deals with a romance I hated myself for routing for, social and political dynamics that were chilling to recognize as potentially near-future ideals, and it has a cast of incredible Queer characters. The close first person POVs had me turning pages well into the night. This is a gritty, sexy, uncomfortable book with a razor-sharp hook and a hopeful ending. Get ready to cry. Get ready to scream "ALEX, YOU FUCKING DUMBASS" and "ELISHA, SWEETIE, NO" again and again. Get ready to swoon and hope and wonder if you're a bad person for swooning and hoping. It's the type of book that'll make you think - challenging, thought-provoking, steeped in hope and strength, and deeply unsettling. I can't wait to get a hard copy in 2020!
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  • ☙ percy ❧
    January 1, 1970
    "There is no consent under capitalism." szpara and tor are literally not even in the VICINITY of fucking around
  • Silvia
    January 1, 1970
    this sounds gay and all but what drew me in is a quote directly, and I shit you not, taken from the publisher's website:"The most scandalous kink: love"WELL count me in
  • Madison
    January 1, 1970
    This is an incredibly challenging book to review. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down. It pushed the boundaries of what I feel like is acceptable in commercial fiction, and there's a lot of value in that. It contends with really thorny questions of consent and medical ethics and morality. On the other hand, it vacillates painfully between interesting, meticulous commentary and absolutely cringeworthy Kink 101 sex scenes and tropes straight out of "my mom sold me to One Direction" fanfiction This is an incredibly challenging book to review. On the one hand, I couldn't put it down. It pushed the boundaries of what I feel like is acceptable in commercial fiction, and there's a lot of value in that. It contends with really thorny questions of consent and medical ethics and morality. On the other hand, it vacillates painfully between interesting, meticulous commentary and absolutely cringeworthy Kink 101 sex scenes and tropes straight out of "my mom sold me to One Direction" fanfiction erotica. The ending undoes any good that happens in the middle. It reads like Szpara really labored over the premise of the book, then rushed through the actual resolution--or perhaps his editor did. The grammar is...not good, and the interesting, dark exploration of capitalism and sexuality gets quashed beneath a more or less standard romance novel/courtroom drama conclusion. Not to mention the fact that the one black character with the most face time is named...literally...Onyx. Cringe, cringe, cringe. In many ways, this book really fits the stereotype of dystopian fiction: "What if the stuff that already happens to marginalized folks happened to nice white people?"
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  • Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5/5CW: bad view of BDSM (as in, vaguely consensual), slavery, forced drugging, and forced sexIf I say it once, I'll say it many times. I can't believe that this is Szpara's debut novel. Because, damn. This book was amazing.It takes place in a futuristic world where debts can now be passed down to children through the generations. To clear these debts, people can become Dociles. Aka, slaves to people who are clearing them of their debts in exchange for years of their life doing whatever they 4.5/5CW: bad view of BDSM (as in, vaguely consensual), slavery, forced drugging, and forced sexIf I say it once, I'll say it many times. I can't believe that this is Szpara's debut novel. Because, damn. This book was amazing.It takes place in a futuristic world where debts can now be passed down to children through the generations. To clear these debts, people can become Dociles. Aka, slaves to people who are clearing them of their debts in exchange for years of their life doing whatever they want to do. To make this easier on Dociles, Dociline was developed. That's a drug that helps calm the Dociles down and make them more complacent. Of course, the Dociles have rights. If their contract is violated, they can appeal and have that made right. They can also refuse Dociline if they so choose.And that leads into Elisha Wilder. He wants to clear his family's debt of three million dollars and give his younger sister a chance to have a real future. He decides to become a Docile. Then there's Alex Bishop. He needs to take a Docile to look good in the eyes of the public. Why is that? Because his family created, and continues to develop and evolve, Dociline. Except Elisha refuses Dociline.From there, the story goes. I really liked this book because it plays with the meaning of consent and what makes it up. While reading it, Elisha came across to me as being lured into Alex and Alex's needs. While Elisha wasn't drugged, I would hardly call him a consenting party. He has a contract and has to do whatever Alex asks him to do. The sex that they have -- which is graphic, so if that's not for you, be warned -- feels voyeuristic and a bit gross once you finish the story. In the moment, it's passionate and hot, but when I kept going with the story I found myself recoiling from that memory as Elisha starts to wake up to what consent means.I also enjoyed how Alex woke up to what's going on in the world, and what his family is doing at the same time. Both of the characters' developments felt realistic. It was wonderful to read it and to catch where the story was going.I can totally see why this is being called the book that Fifty Shades of Grey could have been. Instead of being full of bad sex and sticking with the status quo, Docile challenges it and makes the reader critically examine the world of the book and what's in our reality. Fantastic book and I can't wait to read Szpara's next book!
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  • Lauren James
    January 1, 1970
    [Gifted]DOCILE is a near future sci-fi with the incredible tagline 'There is no consent under capitalism'. It's about people in debt going into service as slaves to billionaires to pay off their debts, taking a medication that makes them docile and subservient for the duration of their slavery. I'm enjoying the book hugely. Though it's not one for younger readers!
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  • Ash | Wild Heart Reads
    January 1, 1970
    So I have to leave my full review until a little closer to the release date but Docile is phenomenal. It's one of the most nuanced and powerful books on consent and agency I've read.Because of this it is intense and at times heartbreaking reading what Elisha goes through, so do bear that in mind if you're picking it up. "You're going to do just fine without me, Elisha Wilder. You're going to be amazing." TW: dubious consent, discussions of rape and coercion, attempted suicide and mention of So I have to leave my full review until a little closer to the release date but Docile is phenomenal. It's one of the most nuanced and powerful books on consent and agency I've read.Because of this it is intense and at times heartbreaking reading what Elisha goes through, so do bear that in mind if you're picking it up. "You're going to do just fine without me, Elisha Wilder. You're going to be amazing." TW: dubious consent, discussions of rape and coercion, attempted suicide and mention of suicidal thoughts. Full review to come.
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  • TJ
    January 1, 1970
    Yes, this book has some smutty scenes in it. Yes, most of them explore the idea of “can consent exist under capitalism?” This book made me question myself throughout my entire reading journey, in the best way. /Should/ I enjoy these two characters as a couple? Should I be rooting for them? What is love and consent in this future world? I felt uncomfortable and even disgusted at times, but then I also felt the complete opposite at other times. Szpara’s writing is skillful; my feelings were Yes, this book has some smutty scenes in it. Yes, most of them explore the idea of “can consent exist under capitalism?” This book made me question myself throughout my entire reading journey, in the best way. /Should/ I enjoy these two characters as a couple? Should I be rooting for them? What is love and consent in this future world? I felt uncomfortable and even disgusted at times, but then I also felt the complete opposite at other times. Szpara’s writing is skillful; my feelings were directed all over the place depending on what the prose wanted me to feel, from one extreme to the other. If you think you can handle the (sometimes very sexy, sometimes off putting) graphic scenes, I highly recommend this book. It was an experience, and the characters will stick with me for years to come. Also, it’s always great to support a Baltimore local author! 5/5 stars and a new favorite!
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  • Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
    January 1, 1970
    this book has big sexy energy. is it the gayness? that cover? the tagline? the content?
  • Jo Ladzinski
    January 1, 1970
    Read an ARC provided by Tor.comTW: depictions of rape, dubious consent, sexual harassment, trauma, PTSD, on-page depiction of suicide, suicidal ideationIn a near-future version of the U.S., debt has gotten so bad that people seek relief in the form of becoming Dociles—slaves to the rich in the promise of relieving immense debts. To help them with these terms, Bishop Labs developed Dociline, and it does exactly what you expect, but doesn't wear off when the company says it will. To save his Read an ARC provided by Tor.comTW: depictions of rape, dubious consent, sexual harassment, trauma, PTSD, on-page depiction of suicide, suicidal ideationIn a near-future version of the U.S., debt has gotten so bad that people seek relief in the form of becoming Dociles—slaves to the rich in the promise of relieving immense debts. To help them with these terms, Bishop Labs developed Dociline, and it does exactly what you expect, but doesn't wear off when the company says it will. To save his family from prison, Elisha sells himself to Alex, the CEO of Bishop Labs who has his own legacy to take care of.This book takes its time when it comes to the set up of the rules around the Docile system, both Elisha and Alex before their "relationship", the courtroom drama, and everything in between. It is meticulous and emotionally-driven. Every character gets enough page-time and you wind up feeling for all of them (even though there are a handful I'd like to have a word with). The language is also simply elegant, never pulls any punches, and you get uncomfortably close with both Alex and Elisha. Both those kids need help, but it's up for them to decide. Docile never lets the reader forget that, even though the odds of them making fully informed decisions are stacked against them.Szpara also excels when it comes to the relationship between the men and their families. Unlike in a lot of adult work, the parents are largely absent. Here, they are essential to the plot and I cannot say more about that. It would be spoilers, but I found myself weeping over the amount of healing everyone has to do.This immersive work lures you in with its tagline and keeps you around for its deconstruction of themes around consent, power, disparity, and sooths you with enough tenderness to keep you from falling into absolutely despair.
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  • Sana
    January 1, 1970
    You had me at queer Gossip Girl. Tor.com is a force of nature publisher
  • mina reads™️
    January 1, 1970
    I have the physical arc in my hands and I’m not okay!!!!!! Thank you to the publisher for this arc in exchange for an honest review
  • Acqua
    January 1, 1970
    - with that premise, it can't be forgettable- this author wrote one of the best short stories (well, more precisely a novelette, but anyway) I've ever read- gayyes I need this book
  • Jane (It'sJaneLindsey)
    January 1, 1970
    I’ll be honest, I have no idea how to rate this book. I think I need a few days to process things.
  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    Docile by K.M. Szpara is one of my favorite reads of the year. In Szpara’s capitalist dystopia, the poor are forced into indentured labor to escape debtor’s prison. Many of them take Dociline, a drug designed not only to make them servile, but also to make them forget their struggle while they’re on it. Elisha signs up to save his family, but is determined not to end up like his mother—a shell of a person after years of being drugged. And so when he becomes contracted to Alex, heir to the Docile by K.M. Szpara is one of my favorite reads of the year. In Szpara’s capitalist dystopia, the poor are forced into indentured labor to escape debtor’s prison. Many of them take Dociline, a drug designed not only to make them servile, but also to make them forget their struggle while they’re on it. Elisha signs up to save his family, but is determined not to end up like his mother—a shell of a person after years of being drugged. And so when he becomes contracted to Alex, heir to the Dociline empire, he refuses the drug, and Alex must find other ways to prove to his own family that he has Elisha under control.This is an incredible book. It features BDSM twisted within an abusive relationship with a huge power differential; and then it deals with it, portraying what real, consensual, and equal BDSM actually looks like, and asking questions of love, consent, and control. Drugged or no, when you are a servant who must obey or face the imprisonment of your family, is there really such a thing as giving free consent? Even when Elisha interacts with groups protesting Dociline, even if he goes back home to live in poverty, how much choice does he have in this world? Szpara leaves no rock unturned as he writes of the difficulty of achieving any real free will in a system that is desperately, systematically turned against you but that still insists that you have a fair shake at opportunity.I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. A dark and fascinating science fiction tale that is compelling from the first page to the last, this novel will make you think, burn, and gasp. Docile comes out March 3, 2020.
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  • Nomadic Reader (Baba Yaga)
    January 1, 1970
    Me: I'm really not into slavefic and I also don't tend to go for m/m pairingsAlso me: ughh but gays fighting capitalism though
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