2023 Reading Challenge

2023 Reading Challenge
Jill Elizabeth has read 5 books toward her goal of 265 books.

Book Review: The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

About the Book

Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, meant to measure their physical health and psychological well-being, fall below 10 percent. Then they retire themselves, embarking on a ferry ride to the island known as the Nursery, where their failing bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh.

Proctor Bennett, of the Department of Social Contracts, has a satisfying career as a ferryman, gently shepherding people through the retirement process—and, when necessary, enforcing it. But all is not well with Proctor. For one thing, he’s been dreaming—which is supposed to be impossible in Prospera. For another, his monitor percentage has begun to drop alarmingly fast. And then comes the day he is summoned to retire his own father, who gives him a disturbing and cryptic message before being wrestled onto the ferry.

Meanwhile, something is stirring. The Support Staff, ordinary men and women who provide the labor to keep Prospera running, have begun to question their place in the social order. Unrest is building, and there are rumors spreading of a resistance group—known as “Arrivalists”—who may be fomenting revolution.

Soon Proctor finds himself questioning everything he once believed, entangled with a much bigger cause than he realized—and on a desperate mission to uncover the truth.

My Review

So I’m not normally a fan of the post-apocalyptic/dystopian genre…. I tend to find them emotionally exhausting to read, plus the world is crazy and dark enough these days without adding extra crises to the bill. But I still find myself picking up Justin Cronin’s novels, even knowing they’ll break my heart and be tough to read, because he just writes so magnificently. He has an incredible ability to craft complex characters that live and breathe on the page. Pair that with his vivid imagination and a sense of timing and pacing that is spot on, and the result is always a devastating and magnificent tale that will horrify, move, and amaze in equal measures.

The Ferryman is no exception.

There is SO MUCH going on here. The first half of the book feels like one story. The second, another – in another genre – entirely. Yet the two pieces are seamlessly intertwined in a way that not only makes complete sense and is absolutely believable, it’s also completely engaging and un-put-down-able. It took me a while to read – his books always do, and not only because they are long but because of the emotional and intellectual heft they bear as well – but it was well worth the effort and the journey was a brilliant one!

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for my obligation-free review copy.

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