The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
Dystopian Science Fiction
Random House Audio
May 2, 2023
Review by Jen
A friend recommended The Ferryman by Justin Cronin and while SciFi isn’t my normal go to read, I was intrigued. I’m SO glad I gave this a listen. I’m still thinking about it, working through the twists and turns in my head.
I can’t get into the story too much, because so much of the fun is the surprises that happen towards the end of the book.
The gist is this-
Proctor and Elise are a married couple living in the future world of Prospera. The big rule about Prospera? Much like the Hotel California, you can ever leave. Life outside of Prospera is damaged, dangerous and utterly broken.
Couples require contracts to marry, these contracts can be for any amount of time. Couples need a contract to adopt a child. And when a person is sick, or just tired of living, they go through a “retirement” contract that takes them to a “nursery” where they are basically reborn, healthy and ready to get back to the world. Prospera is an isolated place with two very distinct classes. One is the wealthy people, more of the creative class, and the other is people who are living in the streets or have supporting roles like housekeeping, sanitation, etc…
Proctor is a Ferryman and works in the Department of Social Contracts. His job is to guide “retirees” through the process of leaving the island by an unmanned ferry to the island where the nursery is located. He lives a fairly dry life, going through the motions, a very proper by the rules kind of guy. His wife Elisa is a fashion designer who’s mother is the most influential leader of the government on Prospera. They have nice things, live a good life. But, there’s something off about their marriage. Very little passion, love or warmth going on with Proctor and Elise.
One day, Proctor has a sealed envelope delivered with the name of someone he must Ferry away to retirement. And that’s when it all starts to get super interesting. There’s chaos, mayhem and Proctor’s life changes forever.
I’m stopping the story summary there. Trust me, it’s terrific and you’ll find yourself trying to solve the mystery of Prospera and Proctor throughout the entire book. Even afterward, you’ll be questioning if you got it right. At least I am. :)
If you like fantasy, you’ll like this. If you’re a fan of dystopian novels, you’ll like this. And if you enjoy SciFi, you’ll really like it. I thought the world building was fascinating and original. The characters complex (LIKE REALLY COMPLEX, once you get to the giant twist). You’re treated to multiple perspectives, with my favorite being Proctor’s. I also loved the actors voicing the audio book. The male voice has a James Spader quality. At no point was I bored. In fact, I wanted more SciFi and picked up a new book, Project Hail Mary. I’m still listening to it. So far, so good.
The Ferryman is a long one but totally worth the commitment. Try something new, expand your horizon. Thanks to Libro.FM and my local bookstore, Copperfields, for the audiobook!