When dark isn’t dark enough


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 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.”

I’ll start off by saying, I need some distance away from this before I can really process my thoughts about it🙃

But if I were to just charge forth with “first impressions”, I’d say this has a specific audience (trigger warnings for rape, physical/mental/emotional abuse). Admittedly there isn’t anything wrong with the pacing, the writing, or even how the topics of power dynamics, mental manipulation and the existing system (within the novel) are addressed. But. Here I am, not quite sure of what I read – or at least how I feel about it.

The standout –complaints?- no. Dislikes? better but not precise… Letdowns? Let’s go with that– was that it wasn’t as dark as I expected. Yes it’s graphic but almost too surface level, like trying to prove a point but make the characters good enough to be redeemable. And speaking of characters, though done well enough, they weren’t convincing. They’re POVs read to me like a purposely queer ode to 50 shades of gray.

I wanted a darker, serious commentary of the system that wasn’t wrapped in a sheer layer of a somewhat romance. I wanted a more nuanced take on capitalism, debt and the discrepancies between classes but.. I didn’t 🤷🏾‍♀️ To be fair, the real gem nestled inside this story is how unbelievably – and frighteningly – possible such a world feels. There was a point where I honestly thought about why this was SFF and then remembered this isn’t the world we live. And that’s a dangerous realization when a line between reality and a very twisted and abusive system doesn’t seem farfetched. 

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