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The Innocence Treatment
2017
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After she undergoes a procedure to correct a unique cognitive disability, Lauren's perceptions of reality are challenged as she finds herself at the center of a conspiracy involving genetic engineering and government secrets. - (Baker & Taylor)

After sixteen-year-old Lauren Fielding undergoes a procedure to correct a unique cognitive disability, her perceptions of reality are challenged as she finds herself at the center of a conspiracy involving genetic engineering and government secrets. - (Baker & Taylor)

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, Ari Goelman's 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.

- (McMillan Palgrave)

Author Biography

Ari Goelman is the author of the middle-grade novel The Path of Names. He lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his family. - (McMillan Palgrave)

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Booklist Reviews

Countless doctors have told 16-year-old Lauren that her cognitive disorder is a variant of Williams syndrome, a developmental disorder characterized by medical problems and highly social personalities. When her new doctor suggests that it is something distinctly different and that an experimental treatment could correct her developmental and social delays, Lauren embarks on a risky journey of surgery and therapy held at Paxeon, the government-run corporation in control of almost everything in Goelman's near-future America. A nonlinear structure perfectly joins the speculative plot with aspects of a psychological thriller. Filtered through the lens of Lauren's collected journal entries and therapy session transcripts (annotated by her older sister), the one-sided version of events cleverly casts doubt on Lauren's reliability as a quasi narrator and will have readers second-guessing everything on the page. Tight pacing and a heavy layer of suspense propel the book toward its shocking conclusion. Perfect for fans of Neal Shusterman's Unwind series or Emily Barr's The One Memory of Flora Banks (2017). Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews

Sixteen-year-old Lauren had a unique cognitive disorder that meant she took every statement at face value, leaving her open to mockery and outright abuse. When an experimental operation corrects her "innocence," a newly aware Lauren questions whether her problem was really a disability or something more sinister. Told in post-treatment journal entries and therapy transcripts, the dystopic mystery unfolds engagingly until the surprise reveal. Copyright 2018 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews

Protagonist Lauren Fielding's papers recount her terrifying experiences and revelations as a government experiment in Goelman's unsettling dystopia. It's the fall of 2031, and a post-climate disaster U.S. is in the grip of the Department of Security, Defense, and Well-Being, empowered under the Emergency Act to protect the country at any cost, even the cost of its own citizens. Lauren is a young white teen with a cognitive disability that interferes with her capacity to disbelieve or distrust anyone. Because of the danger to which such naiveté is vulnerable, Lauren undergoes brain surgery to correct the issue, and while thrilled at first, Lauren steadily becomes more paranoid with each passing day as her new clarity of perception unmasks the dissembling corruption of the Department and her role within it. Told in a series of collected journal entries, therapy-session transcripts, and appended footnotes from Lauren's older sister, Lauren's memories of events and dialogue are more detailed than what is altogether believable, and the centering of a (fictional) mental disability simply to "cure" it is disappointingly stale. However, readers who enjoy the moral cartwheels of a nation flooded by fear and the chill of a troublingly plausible future punctuated by opportunistic and insidiously innovative scientists will find all the frissons they could ask for here. Nineteen Eighty-Four meets V for Vendetta in a thrilling package. (Dystopian adventure. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus 2017 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews

Gr 8 Up—In 2031, 16-year-old Lauren Fielding becomes known as the "Innocence Girl." Born without the ability to distinguish truth from lies, she believes everything she is told. Unlike her sister, Lauren has never had a reason to be wary of the government, called the Department. When Dr. Corbin, the doctor who helped Lauren's parents conceive her, offers a surgical treatment to fix the disorder, she eagerly accepts. Within months after the operation, Lauren transforms into a self-sufficient, paranoid, and violent version of herself who is constantly suspicious of the Department. When she befriends Department agent Sasha, Lauren sets out on a mission to uncover the truth. The teen discovers that she has been genetically engineered by Dr. Corbin to experiment with an Innocence Treatment, a chemical compound that will be used by the Department to gather information from disobedient citizens. Lauren makes her findings public, throwing herself and her family into danger. A compelling plot structure, in which her sister has compiled Lauren's journal entries, doctor's records, and video notes, will instantly pique readers' curiosity. Goelman captures the protagonist's spiral from innocence to paranoia vividly. An anticlimactic reveal of Lauren's discovery, which she admittedly forgets to tell readers, is a hiccup in an otherwise rapid plot. Devious characters pivot across the pages of this novel. VERDICT A fresh take on futuristic psychological thrillers and an easy sell to reluctant readers.—Amy McInerney, Falmouth Elementary School, ME

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal.

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