The Ferryman by Justin Cronin was one of my most anticipated releases in 2023. I am a huge fan of his Passage trilogy and was excited to slip into this science fiction fantasy. While quite different from his previous works, Cronin takes us to a utopian world where all is not as it seems. With twists and surprises, I found myself caught up in the Ferryman’s fate.The Ferryman
by Justin Cronin
Genres: Science Fiction
Purchase*: Amazon | Audible *affiliate
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.
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Passage comes a riveting standalone novel about a group of survivors on a hidden island utopia--where the truth isn't what it seems.
Cronin takes us to the archipelago of Prospera. Created by the Director, select humans live and are reborn on these islands. They are sheltered from the outside world where natural & man-made disasters have left the world uninhabitable.
Citizens arrive as young adults and are adopted by the citizens of Prospera. They are nurtured and sent off to school. Such was the case with Proctor Bennett. He is now an employee of the Department of Social Contracts. He helps aging citizens retire and board the ferry to be re-birthed. The job is mostly comforting them as they get ready to embark, but occasionally, force is needed.
Proctor lives with his wife Elisa but has been restless lately. He is having dreams and his health monitor is dropping in numbers. When he escorts his own father to the ferry, he says something that sets off a chain of events. The story that unfolds hooked me and never let go. While I had hints about what was happening, Cronin still surprised me.
The tale is told from multiple points of view from the elite in Prospera to the workers who cross over to the island and work for them. Conspiracies, factions, upheaval and power grabs bring suspenseful moments. As cracks appeared their society mirrored more of what we see that is wrong in our current society.
The story puts forth some intriguing questions while pointing out some inherent flaws in society. An addictive, thought-provoking science fiction that you’ll ponder long after you close the book.
The story has a Matrix vibe and I could not set it down. The world-building is lush and complex and the pacing slowly builds until you grip the pages with each discovery and climatic scene.
While this appears to be a standalone and I was left satisfied, I would be curious to know what happens next. Either way, I look forward to more from this author.
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