by Patricia Forde
Genre: YA, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic, Eco Fiction, Science Fiction
Publication Date: August 1st 2017 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Original Title: The Wordsmith, published April 16, 2015
Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for tweens in this gripping story about the power of words and the dangers of censorship.
In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice Letta, the keepers and archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world.
On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.
The List is set in a post-apocalyptic future where the ice caps have melted and flooded the world. A small colony has formed where a group called the Green Warriors had identified a place the flooding would not likely touch. Called Ark, the main town is under the control of Noa, a man who blames the disaster on words, on people talking each other into believing there was nothing to the science that predicted the flood.
So, one, this book is very much a story warning against censorship, not only of words, but of culture, the arts, and human nature. But two, it’s also about climate change and a commentary on politicizing the science around it to the point that real threats are disregarded. I thought these elements were both interesting and rather frightening.
Still, the entire story is told from the perspective of a child, just into her teens, who loses her guardian and assumes a massive responsibility all in the same day. A girl who discovers everything she thought was normal and right was actually a lie. It’s a pretty exciting read, actually, but there are some poignant tragedies fed by the brutality and lack of empathy of those who are supposed to lead and protect Ark.
Overall, I really enjoyed this story. It’s a gripping and thought provoking read with a decent amount of action and good pacing. I’d recommend it to folks who like dystopian, post-apocalyptic, and stories that feature young protagonists.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley.
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