Justin Cronin – The Ferryman Review

Genre: Science Fiction
Length: 560 Pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release date: May 23rd 2023

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.

Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review

Justin Cronin creates an immersive world, drops the reader inside and says “good luck” as The Ferryman is in full motion from the start. I was looking in all directions for clues about Prospera, and where it was all headed. The dystopian world reminded me of Logan’s Run, for those old enough to remember, with the citizens being ‘reiterated’. There are many stories happening at the same time and the dreams remind me of the complex and layered story from the movie Inception. Justin Cronin adds heft to its expansive world-building by gradually unraveling the tapestry around its many mysteries. I loved the complexity and build up to why Prospera was created.

Proctor’s story arc as well as many other key players, Elise and Thea, was nothing short of heart breaking. The Ferryman has a multitude of characters, all with more than enough happening to keep the most attentive reader on their toes. Each character is given a detailed backstory that gives them life and I was quickly invested in them. Caeli was another great character, her mysterious appearance in Prospera was another mystery to be solved.

Once enough puzzle pieces came together I was shocked, and then impressed with Justin Cronin’s imagination. The Ferryman was a joy to read, the post-apocalyptic component mixed with the science fiction was great, and I couldn’t get enough and I didn’t want to put it down. The Ferryman was my first read from Justin Cronin, how have I not read him before! I highly recommend this read if you are a sci-fi fan.

Link to purchase The Ferryman

Justin Cronin, Biography-

Justin Cronin is the New York Times bestselling author of The Passage, The Twelve, The City of Mirrors, Mary and O’Neil (which won the PEN/Hemingway Award and the Stephen Crane Prize), and The Summer Guest. Other honors for his writing include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Whiting Writers’ Award. A Distinguished Faculty Fellow at Rice University, he divides his time between Houston, Texas, and Cape Cod, Massachusetts.


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