MixedThe Chicago Review of Books... an incredibly clever set-up for a novel. And though parts of its set-up are predictable, the point of view toggles between Elisha and Alex effectively. It makes for an energetic opening to a dystopian narrative, one with a keen eye toward our current culture’s most fraught dynamics ... At times throughout my reading, I worried the world-building was almost too easy, that Szpara was simply reaching for every dial he could find and turning it up times twenty, but to his credit, the narrative remains grounded in the transforming relationship between Elisha and Alex ... Szpara is a master at making Docile feel like a love story when we know it’s not ... It’s perhaps Szpara’s most brilliant move, using salacious material to engross the reader until they are implicated in the horror of what is happening. In its ability to lead the reader astray, Docile shares more in common with Lolita (albeit a much simpler written version) than it does Fifty Shades of Grey...Or it does for its first movement, before the complexity of the novel’s sexual and personal dynamics are abandoned in the interests of narrative momentum ... The world of the novel dissolves into courtroom proceedings, and there is no shortage of the genre’s tropes ... should a book with themes so complex prioritize reader satisfaction above truthful engagement? Szpara’s empathy for even the most despicable of his characters is admirable, but should they be let off the hook so easily? ... When Docile does miss the mark though, it tends to be because its author shows a fidelity to the trappings of the novel. It displays the shortcomings of narrative itself, prioritizing catharsis and pacing above a rigorous engagement with its complicated themes. Docile, while compulsively readable, is limited by its own form, revealing the commercial novel as a weak vessel with which to try and critique oppressive capitalist systems. I can’t help but wonder what this book’s set-up might flower into with a set of less commercial sensibilities.