This 7-part series’ strengths, it seems to us, are first, its ability to keep readers wondering, its handling of suspense. (Notice the suspenseful section endings in particular.) Second, the series persuasively links a particular narrative to larger social themes. One theme the piece pursues is the government’s ongoing battle against science, the public’s fear of science—and the consequences of these trends. Finally, the series engages readers with another, more primal theme: our fear of being wrongly accused.

The series’ tone changes markedly in the final installment. The section is a sort of coda—the climax of the story has been reached in the penultimate section—and is much more topical. Mangels’ overall purpose emerges more strongly as he more directly gets at the social themes mentioned above.

We applaud using narrative as this piece does, making complex issues compelling through story.

Read “Plagued by Fear,” by John Mangels

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