Book review for : The List
Author : Patricia Forde
Rating : 3 stars
Series : None—there could be, but I see no mention of it anywhere.
Fun premise that gets lost in the Melting
The List is a dystopian story that takes place on Earth after some tragic ‘Melting’ that wipes out much of humanity and animals and technology and words. The only island these survivors know of is their own, with their kindly city called Ark, run by John Noa. Noa is convinced that it was the meaningless wordplay that kept humanity from dealing with the problems that led to the Melting, and thus has instigated The List, a required set of vernacular that at the beginning of the book he cuts to 500 words.
Letta is the apprentice Wordsmith, someone who hones The List, and writes out List vocabulary cards for everybody (by hand), and collects other words for a time when humanity may need them. Letta thinks everything is dandy until a series of events—starting with her harboring an injured dissenter—make her question everything John Noa has told her.
As far as the story of Letta and the List is concerned, this was a fun book. Most of the characters were a bit flat, but that was ok; Letta wasn’t bad. The Wordsmith idea was fun, I liked when it talked about her work; she was a horrible rebel because she couldn’t keep a straight face and the government enforcers were on to her from the first moment, I’m not sure why they left her loose for as long as they did, but it was kind of funny how inept she was at that.
Speaking of the rebels though… they played music and painted art pieces, trying to influence the populace with this forbidden material. Not a bad idea to raise awareness that Noa was keeping more than words from them, but really, that’s ALL they seemed to do. Not impressive. And I guess they didn’t have any scientists in their group, or didn’t employ them, just artists. Meh. Weak, but I let it slide.
I’m also not sure that people who knew music (anyone older than 50? I think) would allow it to be banned. Honestly.
What annoyed me most though was the not-at-all-hidden preachiness of global warming. Noa tried to warn people but the politicians continued to say everything was ok, and that’s why the warming happened, and although it was gradual I guess humanity never adapted, and it rained for 3 weeks (…everywhere? or just here?) and that flooded everything. Kind of hard to believe. And last time I heard, most politicians aren’t saying anything of the sort. Also it annoyed me that the book (Noa) mentions it was also the scientists’ fault, that they were ‘deniers’. What was Noa, then? A preacher? And he was surprised people didn’t listen to him?
For a work of fiction, it was awfully intent on current events, even though the point of the book was the WORDS. The author would have been better to leave the Melting as an unexplained and un-dwelled-upon phenomenon, and concentrated on her actual story.
However, it was a fun concept, and a good YA read. There is definitely violence but it’s not discussed in much detail (someone gets fingernails pulled off, a pregnant woman is tortured, etc.). There is a slight (maybe forced) romance where nothing happens. The scariest thing that happens is I’m not sure the people (humanity, Letta) really end up in a better spot than where they started, and they don’t seem to have a plan to do so. How far humanity falls.
Review also posted on Amazon. I read this book as an ARC in exchange for a fair review. I love the book cover and the quality of the printing.