Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books
Date of Publication: May 2nd, 2023
Genre: Science Fiction, Fiction, Dystopia, Fantasy, Thriller, Mystery, Adult, Science Fiction Fantasy, Horror, Speculative Fiction
Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | WorldCat
From author of The Passage comes a standalone novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia–where the truth isn’t what it seems.
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.
Dawn is breaking when she creeps from the house. The air is cool and fresh; birds are singing in the trees.The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
Prospera is an island utopia that the mysterious Designer founded to shield people from climate change and the general chaos of the outside world. Death is not known in Prospera. All residents wear a monitor embedded in their arms, and those monitors measure their physical and mental health. Once the meter falls below 10 percent, the citizens must retire to the Nursery. There, their memories are wiped, their bodies rejuvenated, and they are readied to start life again as a teenager. But things are beginning to change in Prospera. The support staff, who mainly live in the Annex, are beginning to question their place in the social order of the island, and a resistance group is formed. While that is happening, Proctor Bennett, the Director of Social Contracts, is having a crisis. He has been dreaming, something no one on the island should be able to do. Proctor also received a cryptic message from his father shortly before his father forcibly retired. Running into roadblocks, Proctor starts to realize that there is more going on in Prospera than he realized and that Prospera isn’t what he thinks it is. What will happen when Proctor uncovers the truth? Will he be able to handle it?
I first heard about The Ferryman when I read several reviews on blogs I follow. What I read got me very interested in reading it. But I figured I would have to wait for it to be published to read it. It so happens that I saw it was on Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine’s NetGalley page as a wish. So I figured I would wish for it and see if I got it. And as you can see, I did. I was very excited; this became the book I read this spring. I hyped it up in my mind, and I became a little wary about it. Usually, when I get so excited to read a book, I get let down. Not in this case. Nope, this book definitely delivered for me!!
The Ferryman centers its storyline around Proctor. Proctor is an Elite. From the age of 15/16, he grew up lacking nothing on Prospera. He eventually married an artist and became head the Director of Social Contracts (who oversaw the ferryman). Life was good until it wasn’t. The author briefly explains Proctor’s early life, including the death of his beloved mother. More focus was on Proctor’s dreams, his rapidly falling stats on his monitor, and his shaky mental health. Everything started to happen after Proctor was forced to retire his father, and his father kept repeating a word over and over. That starts Proctor’s digging into the truth, and what he uncovers is amazing and, frankly, a little scary (and I am applying what was revealed in the last part of the book to this statement)
The other main storyline in The Ferryman centers around Thea, The Annex, Mother, and the resistance. The author did a wonderful job of keeping me guessing how Thea was involved and why she sought out Proctor. And when he melded the storylines, it was gold. I loved it!!!
There was a major secondary storyline involving the heads of the society. I can’t get much into it, but everything they were doing made sense once it was explained. I can’t give any more detail than that. But I was a little surprised by what Proctor did at the end. I was left scratching my head at first, but then I thought of the old saying: Keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Then it made perfect sense.
The characters in The Ferryman were well-written and fleshed out. I wish I could go more into them because there is more to their characters than what is revealed at first. I loved the comparisons once the author dropped his bombshell. It made sense.
I liked Proctor. He was a natural leader, but he was so confused by what was happening to him. I liked that even his dreams kept telling him to do things. I also liked that his dreams hinted at something that could destroy him. When that was revealed, it did. But then he got back up and resolved to keep fighting.
I thought Thea was awesome. I had her pegged as someone totally different than what she was portrayed as. Her actions throughout the book showed that. She loved Proctor to the point where she was willing to let him go.
The end of The Ferryman was amazing. The author explained everything that was going on in the book. And when I say everything, I mean everything. All of my questions were answered, and then some. Did I agree with what Proctor did at the end of the book? Not really, but I got why he did it. There was also a big twist involving Thea that I maybe should have seen coming, but I didn’t.
I recommend The Ferryman to anyone over 21. There is language, mild sexual situations, and violence.
Many thanks to Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, NetGalley, and Justin Cronin for allowing me to read and review The Ferryman. All opinions stated in this review are mine.
If you enjoyed reading this review of The Ferryman, then you will enjoy reading these books:
Other books by Justin Cronin: