Monday, May 15, 2023

Book Review of "The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin


At 560 pages, "The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin is a chunky read and a huge time investment. If you're trying to decide whether or not to pick this one up, keep reading to find out my thoughts and whether I think it's worth a read!

The Ferryman
by Justin Cronin

Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, meant to measure their physical health and psychological well-being, 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.

Meanwhile, something is stirring. The Support Staff, ordinary men and women who provide the labor to keep Prospera running, have begun to question their place in the social order. Unrest is building, and there are rumors spreading of a resistance group—known as “Arrivalists”—who may be fomenting revolution.

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. ( from

Book Review and Discussion of 
"The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin

What Worked for Me

Genre-bending reading experience - 

Reading "The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin felt like the science fiction dystopia of Blake Crouch had a baby with Andy Weir's space based fiction. Both of which are authors and reading experiences that absolutely love. These are the kinds of books that you wish you could have the opportunity to read again for the first time! 

Not only did "The Ferryman" explore different sub genres within science fiction, it also had a great deal of character development reminiscent of your typical literary fiction plot. I think this book would be a great entry into science fiction, as long as the length wasn't a reading deterrent.

The twist is earned - 

This book is easily ruined by spoilers, so I have to be careful here - the plot of "The Ferryman" definitely pulled me in quickly and while I was very confused at times, I think Cronin did an excellent job of making that confusion pay off. Ultimately the story does all make sense and you can tell that Cronin carefully plotted, planned, and rewrote to make sure his story was internally consistent. Too frequently, especially in popular thrillers, a twist is so abrupt that it feels disconnected from the rest of the book, and like a very cheap writer's trick, that was not the case with "The Ferryman".

What I Struggled With

About that Plot Twist - 

There is a significant plot twist that occurs in this book around the 70% mark. And while I do think it is worth it (see above), and I gave "The Ferryman" four stars, the bulk of the beginning was frustrating to make sense of - because it isn't supposed to fully make sense. It took me a really long time to forgive that feeling once everything started to come together - just know that you will likely spend a good chunk of time slightly confused and that it might or might not be worth it.

The Length - 

 I truly think that this book could've been a hundred pages less with the same story and it would likely not negatively effect the reading experience. As someone who does not primarily read science fiction, I'm not used to reading books this long. My typical reads are between 350 and 400 pages. And at a certain point, I start to get reading claustrophobia anywhere past that. It feels like I will be trapped reading this book forever unless I put it down and start a new one. While I did struggle for the first 70%, once the plot twist hit I flew through the ending of the book.

Have you read "The Ferryman" by Justin Cronin? If so, comment below and let me know what you thought of the book! If not, tell me your favorite genre-bending read. Thanks for reading, readers!

Thank you to the author and publisher for providing an early copy for review. Please know that as a "girl about the library" where books are always free, my opinions expressed in this post are truly my own.


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