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Docile

de K. M. Szpara

MembrosResenhasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
3362578,947 (3.23)11
Erotic Literature. Fiction. Science Fiction. LGBTQIA+ (Fiction.) HTML:

K. M. Szpara's 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.
There is no consent under capitalism.
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.
Content warning: Docile contains forthright depictions and discussions of rape and sexual abuse.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.… (mais)

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    Autonomous de Annalee Newitz (lavaturtle)
    lavaturtle: Human servitude as the logical conclusion of extreme capitalism
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Mostrando 1-5 de 25 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
I went a bit out of my reading comfort zone with this one, but ultimately I’m glad I did! “Docile” is a thought-provoking novel that took me by surprise with its look at capitalism, power, and the manipulation of both. This very much a sexy AND smart book; there are plenty of 50 Shades scenes for the erotica fan, but those scenes also make the reader question what is happening on a deeper level (pun intended).

I think the pacing was off for this novel though. The whole second half of the novel is full of legal scenes, courtroom drama, and inner-turmoil-type moments, and this second half could have been cleaned up nicer. I would have loved to see Alex and Elisha spend more than just the 6-9ish months that the novel takes up, which would have made the rest of the novel more dramatic and high-stakes. The ending felt a bit too easy and sudden, especially after so much angst.

All in all, an engaging book and I’d definitely be willing to read more by Szpara! I’m also happy to support a local Maryland author ( )
  deborahee | Feb 23, 2024 |
Oh, Docile. You were almost the book for me, but I think we just want different things from this relationship.

Docile is a story of debt slavery in a future America. The novel follows Elisha, a young man who decides to forgo the drug that turns "Dociles" into passive drones who are ignorant of their own subjugation. The first half of this book explores the tagline of the book - how can we consent when capitalistic ideology limits our choices? Szpara blends the psychological terror of The Handmaid's Tale with the storytelling beats of noncon erotic fiction. It's disturbing and tense and, in my view, incredibly effective. In the world of Docile, Elisha has legal rights, and he's making a transaction in which he and his family benefits. Yet, even as he exercises his "freedom" to its fullest extent, he becomes a commodity instead of a person, and we the reader become complicit in the worldview of the setting.

I particularly enjoyed the way that the "good guys" are cast as the antagonists here, and not just because Elisha develops the world's most tragic case of Stockholm Syndrome. People working within the system to achieve social justice goals do necessarily become complicit in that system. That doesn't make them responsible for the world's ills, but it isn't fun if you're a casualty along the way.

It's after the 50% mark that this novel loses me. After a series of grueling events, Elisha has the opportunity to regain his personhood, while his captor, Alex, must reckon with the harm he's caused. There's a big tonal shift, which is probably necessary, but it does make for a less gripping story. To start with the good, I did enjoy a lot about Elisha's self-discovery, from experimenting with self-expression to a really lovely, human sex scene which is infused with all the boundaries and enthusiastic consent missing from the first half of the novel.

Then there is Alex. One of the projects of this novel is to explore how Alex became who he is, and ultimately to rehabilitate him. This is about the most difficult character arc that you could possibly tackle in a book about intimate partner violence, and while I recognize that it might be resonant or even cathartic for the right reader, it just did not work for me.

Alex is a character with a lot of deficits; he lacks knowledge of himself and his world. It often appears that he simply did not appreciate the harm he caused, that like Elisha he is so embedded in the values of his society that he can't see himself clearly. I do think privileged men have deficits - there is so much they literally do not know, and that patriarchy does not ask them to know. However, I also think that a deficit of knowledge and intentional, weaponized ignorance look pretty similar if you don't squint. That men like Alex cause harm, and do see it, but allow their minds to slide past it because there lies introspection and emotional messiness and a great deal of personal inconvenience.

I also don't believe that Alex could change on the timeline of this novel. To be fair I don't ask my melodramatic SFF erotic fiction to be mimetic. The world needs big-R Romantic melodrama; Heathcliff and Mr. Rochester were shit boyfriends too, but I acknowledge there is a place for them in fiction. But Heathcliff is haunted and Mr. Rochester is literally engulfed in flames and I just do not see Alex going through the same symbolic purgation of his crimes. He's in love. He's sorry. He suffers a bit and loses a great deal, but none of it, for me, was a sufficient reversal. None of it felt like enough to shake the privilege out of a man who, again, has been willfully lying to himself for thirty years and is much more comfortable not knowing.

Sorry, I HATED the ending.

Finally, I think this would have been a better novel if it at least touched on the American context of its story, and the question of race. To be clear, I think it would be wildly inappropriate for this to be a novel about race. I don't think Szpara wants this to be a novel about race. But it felt odd and ahistorical to not at least acknowledge that all of this has happened before, first as Black chattel slavery, later as mass incarceration. Otherwise, maybe this is a book that would have been better served in a non-Earth setting (though I loved Szpara's future Baltimore, with its gentrified historical neighborhoods and exurban dystopian hellscape). Dunno.

Having said all that, I know there are going to be about a bajillion other reviews that reject this novel out of hand for romanticizing sexual assault. I absolutely disagree with this premise. Just as historical romances explore ideas about romantic love rather than the realities of courtship and marriage in a patriarchal society, erotic stories like Docile are safe spaces to explore messy and complicated ideas about agency and violation. They're not above critique, but I will fight tooth and claw for their right to make you uncomfortable.

ETA: Having dunked on other reviewers, there are many good reviews out there that provide a more thorough critique of the racial elements here. (Like, his name is really Onyx; that's not a super racist codename??)
  raschneid | Dec 19, 2023 |
Finally finished. This book pulled me in quick. Its totally messed up, but has you thinking about things. My mind was spinning for hours one night I couldn’t sleep. I had to take a break. The whole premise gives you a LOT to think about. This was really well done. ( )
  juliais_bookluvr | Mar 9, 2023 |
Hello my name is Ema and I love all dystopias that highlight the flaws of capitalism.

This book was basically all gay and I loved it. Though there were WAY too many sex scenes for my liking (although in saying that, I did feel like a some of them moved the plot along?) My only real complaint is that it could have been tighter. It's long, and necessarily so as the plot requires some build up. But it did begin to lag in the second half when I thought I had found endgame and hadn't.

And plot wise, I think the cure for Elisha's mother was found way too easily. I didn't buy it, and I thought Lex would come to destroy it. ( )
  whakaora | Mar 5, 2023 |
This book isn't for the faint of heart. Aside from the graphic nature of the story, the mental state of two main characters is intense. (Rape, Sexually explicit, PTSD triggers, etc) But with that being said, it is so well written.

Getting both points of view is perfection, makes the story so immersive, and I couldn't put it down. The events were life like, at points relatable, and told a complete emotional journey. When I was in the middle of the book I was so sure by the end I was going to be broken over it, but the story doesn't leave me with the level of pain that it had me experience. Personally I loved the ending, it was choice, growth, and really wrapped the overall message up in a pretty red bow.

My biggest take aways from the book are, anyone can be conditioned without realizing it, or with it being blatant. Conditioning knows no bounds, it doesn't care of sex, gender, financial situation. Everyone is conditioned just by the environment they are raised in. Conditioning can happen with or without drugs, with or without direct violence, disguised as love or safety. This book speaks to society on so many levels.

But that everyone can change, anyone can learn new truths, as long as we are all given a voice, respect and autonomy. People are a work in progress.

Also, it is crimes against humanity to past down debt. Debt should always dissolved with death. Everything boils down to economics, and human rights. Where does one end, and one begin, which should rule the life we lead? Can their be a balance? Such a great book. ( )
  SabethaDanes | Jan 30, 2023 |
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Erotic Literature. Fiction. Science Fiction. LGBTQIA+ (Fiction.) HTML:

K. M. Szpara's 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.
There is no consent under capitalism.
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.
Content warning: Docile contains forthright depictions and discussions of rape and sexual abuse.
At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.

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