The idyllic archipelago of Prospera is a socially regimented island state founded by the Designer. Citizens enjoy long fulfilling lives until their next “iteration,” where their personalities reemerge in younger bodies. Proctor Bennett works as a ferryman, which means he assists aging Prosperans to travel to the Nursery, an island where their bodies are restored. All citizens have monitors embedded in their forearms which measures their health. If it fails below 10 percent, it is time to retire.
Proctor has always had problems with dreaming, which is not supposed to happen, but now his monitor percentage has been dropping too. When he is called to retire his own father, events go amiss and he receives an enigmatic message from him before getting him onto the ferry. At the same time the support staff for Prospera who all live on the island called the Annex, are now becoming disgruntled and a resistance group known as Arrivalists is growing.
At this point hold on tight, set expectations aside, and keep reading because so many unexpected twists and events happen one after another that it is pointless to predict anything. This will be easy to do because the quality of the writing is exceptional and the plot is fast-paced and riveting. Cronin is in perfect control of the plot and his characters so just keep reading. I promise you that the pages are going to fly-by quickly.
The excellent writing will be the first plus you notice as you begin reading. The prose is simply phenomenal. This will quickly be followed by the awareness that the characters are fully realized and believable individuals with strengths and flaws who are firmly part of the narrative. Then the twists begin and new information is revealed. Follow the prose and plot carefully and, even when you think you don’t know what is going on, you soon will understand that you do before the next twist hits.
No spoilers here. If you like science fiction and literary fiction, just read The Ferryman and thank me later. It’s sure to be on my list of best of 2023. Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Random House via NetGalley.