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‘The Ferryman:’ Advance Book Review

Prospera seems like a perfect world with its comfortable lifestyles, white-collar jobs, and lack of death, at least in the most common sense.  Once the monitor implanted in each citizen’s arm falls to a certain level, they are gently shepherded to the Nursery by a ferryman to be reset into a childlike state and eventually returned to Prospera as a ward of adult members of the community; however, the Support Staff that take care of the menial jobs on Prospera live ordinary human lives with aging, illness, and suffering, while resentful towards the idyllic Prosperan community is growing rapidly.  Whispers of a rebel group known as the Arrivalists spread, and an unsuspecting ferryman called Proctor Bennett will be sucked into the heart of the conspiracy when his father’s retirement doesn’t go as planned.

Justin Cronin has written numerous speculative fiction novels (translated into various languages including Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German), but The Ferryman was my introduction to his work.  The subtle mystery of Prospera sucked me in from the first chapter, and as I teased out the facts, I realized the core of Cronin’s story was an exploration of grief rather than a tale of proletariat versus plebeian. Simultaneously, The Ferryman leaves the reader with a sense of hope for the future even while the novel’s final pages present a bittersweet fantasy for some of the main characters.

I have a knack for reading books that will be ruined if I reveal too much about the plot, and The Ferryman definitely fits that mold.  The magic of learning the truth of Prospera, Proctor Bennett, and the world as you read cannot be understated.  Clues to the relationship between Prospera and the Support Staff’s world lightly pepper the plot, and when there are big reveals, it’s easy to look back and see the subtle foreshadowing; however, knowing how all of the pieces fit together before you start removes some of the joy of this book’s journey.  I can only encourage intrigued readers to take the plunge.

At times, I found The Ferryman a little dense and deliberately paced, but when I reached the end, I understood.  Cronin set the readers up as Prosperans who only know what they’ve been told by the leadership.  To discover the truth, we must follow in Proctor’s footsteps and slowly decode the dystopian world we’ve entered. Ultimately, I felt it was worth the journey.

4.5 Paintings of Faces in the Waves out of 5

Creative Team:  Justin Cronin
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Click here to purchase.


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