Review: The List

The List
The List by Patricia Forde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

“1984 meets The Giver”

3.5 stars

I just love dystopian novels and when I read the summary of this, I knew I had to read it. I’m so glad that I did! It’s an entertaining read even if there’s a lot of familiarity to it. Some of the references are obvious, but it’s a refreshing twist on a few well-loved classics.

Speech is limited to five hundred words, so dialogue makes everyone sound like non-native English speakers. Words such as “please” and “thank you” aren’t list words. Desecrators are banished. Their leader, John Noa, helped build the city of Ark, and the citizens simply call him Noa. Ok, so the names aren’t very original, but the story is still fun to read. Noa wants the city to be wordless, permanently. Many people want to stop him, so they form an army and secretly plan to battle Noa and his people before it’s too late.

The storytelling was engaging, although the beginning was a little slow. Once it picked up, I couldn’t stop reading, because I was so curious to know how it ended. There’s tension and mystery that keeps the story moving forward and the pacing does pick up after a while. I just wish the first half had the same pacing as the last half.

I wish there was more character development, but they were developed enough that I cared about them to either like or hate them. I liked Letta, Marlo, Finn, and Benjamin the most, but there were other interesting characters. I hated Noa. You couldn’t even imply that you supported desecrators without being sent to prison where they tortured you. I wasn’t sure what some of the characters looked like, but their personalities were clear. I worried about some of them and wanted them to win the battle at the end. I was heartbroken over a death, although it’s already mentioned in the Goodreads summary. I actually had some sweaty palms a few times. I could feel the character’s anxiety, especially when people showed up on official business.

I thought this had pretty good world building. I loved the fact that I had a general idea of what their city looked like. The living conditions were vivid. You could see that the city was poor and medicinal treatments are limited primarily to herbs. Food was rationed and you collected it at the Central Kitchen. Sometimes your meal consisted of two hard-boiled eggs, a piece of bread and baked apples. There was a lot of concern about the safety of their drinking water and even water was rationed out. Families were limited to two children to control the city’s supplies. Open fires were banned, because of concerns about the ozone layer. Also, music and art are banned. It’s hard to imagine living in a place with no music or art and a place where you can’t speak freely. I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a city such as Ark.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this. If you’re undecided, I’d say read it, but it’s more of a book that I’d borrow from the library than one I’d add to my home library.

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