The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, 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. But when Proctor Bennett, the ferryman, is summoned to retire his own father, who gives him a disturbing and cryptic message before being wrestled onto the ferry, everything changes. 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. And how does all this tie-in with the resistance group known as “Arrivalists”?
Cronin combines elements of fantasy, science fiction and dystopian drama to create an absorbing story that touches upon a multitude of themes ranging from social distinctions and power struggles to the climate crisis, along with a strong influence on family and loyalty. But mostly the overall theme is how people deal with grief and the affect it has on those around them.
This is a well-structured and consistently paced story. The narrative is presented through multiple perspectives, with the larger part shared from Proctors’ POV. The science fiction element is low-key until the last few chapters, which places this story amongst movies like The Given, The Island and Inception.
Although it’s a lengthy book, you’ll find yourself never wanting it to end. Each chapter is a treat, and the last quarter of the book delivers a shocking twist that will leave you breathless.