Review: The Ferryman by Justin Cronin

Posted April 17, 2023 by Jen in Rating A, Reviews, Sci-Fi or Fantasy Fiction Tags: , , ,

book cover of The Ferryman by Justin CroninThe Ferryman
Author: Justin Cronin
Reviewer: Nima
Rating: A

What I’m Talking About:

Whoa. The Ferryman is a tough one to review without spoiling it. Let me first say that it is exceptionally well written and edited. I enjoyed some delicious vocabulary and even had to look up a few words because Cronin doesn’t take his readers for granted. After a quick read through the book’s description, I expected something dystopian, maybe with echos of Logan’s Run. It’s not. It is more The Matrix meets Inception, but isn’t those either. It is creative and held my skeptical mind at bay long enough to invest in the characters and their course.

The Ferryman is set on the island paradise of Prospera, a protected grouping of three islands where residents live their best life. It was founded by a mysterious genius known only as “the Designer.” The Designer gives the community its personality, values, and dare I say, a soul? The Designer is seen and felt in all the details while residents make time to pursue personal passions and develop talents.

Main character Proctor Bennett was easy to identify with. He was logical and naturally empathetic. All his next steps made sense to the reader, so going on his journey with him was effortless. Proctor is the Director of the Department of Social Contracts and has a satisfying career as an experienced “ferryman.” It’s his job to help people retire, to leave Prospera and the life they have created. As noted in the official description, “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.” They take the ferry to the “Nursery,” another island in the grouping, where their body is rejuvenated, their memory wiped, and they start over with a new life. It is a kindness that people don’t have to go through that process alone. As the book begins, Proctor must ferry his own father who leaves him with a cryptic message. That message starts a ball rolling which only picks up speed.

The story grows and the mystery deepens. Just when you think it’s going to crescendo, it folds in on itself. Cronin successfully does something which he writes about in the book, he gives The Ferryman a soul. The story is what it is because Cronin is the author. It’s simplistic to say that it would not have been the same book if another author had conceptualized it, but that truth is exceptionally evident by the time you are at the end of the book. The ending is 95% satisfying. Sometimes the whole happy ending isn’t the right ending even if we want it. Cronin gave it the right ending. Seriously, a great, distracting, invested, stop what you’re doing read.

My Rating: A Loved It

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.

Release Date: May 2, 2023
Ballantine Books
Sci/Fi, Fantasy
hardcover (560 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher/ NetGalley

Purchase Info:
Amazon (affiliate link)