Book Reviews, Misc

Book Review: The List by Patricia Forde

***This book was reviewed for Sourcebooks- Jabberwocky via Netgalley

*Words are… tears of the sun, given shape.

   Words are… Awen manifest; fruit of the soul.

       Words are… arbitrary symbols of communication.

Patricia Forde’s The List is a clarion call for the future, echoing the lessons of Fahrenheit 451 and Equilibrium. Set in a post-apocalyptic future where the polar ice caps have melted, flooding the land and killing thousands, one man has built a false utopia. John Noa, founder of Ark, created a city where surviving inhabitants live in peace with the environment. On the surface,everything seems to run smoothly, but dark currents run beneath. To maintain his utopia, Noa has restricted language to a List of a mere 500 words.

It is Noa’s belief that language is not a thing of great beauty that sets humanity apart, but rather our deepest evil that clouds the mind and separates humans from harmony with the natural world. The only people accorded the privilege of full language are Noa, his close advisors, the wordsmith, and the wordsmith’s apprentice. Certain jobs are allowed the use of specialist words amongst themselves.

It is Benjamin and Letta’s job to scribe out the List words for students and specialist words for apprentices, and to go out into the world to collect and catalogue words. When an injured young man stumbles into the wordsmith’s shop when Benjamin is out on a word hunt, Letta takes him in and cares for him. This single act of kindness will forever change her life, and the very future of Ark itself.

First, I have to say I adore the cover! It’s simple and elegant; a minimalist testimony to the language of List itself. With The List, Forde has woven an enduring tale about the value of language and communication. It is a tale of ethic and civic responsibility. It is humanity who hastened the Melting, and this scenario is a portent of our future, if we are not careful. It is a morality tale. For Noa, the ends justify the means. He has a sincere desire to preserve and protect, but it has clouded his mind and opened the way for drastic measures. Many of his attempts at eradicating language are horrifyingly tragic. It is a tale of censorship. By attempting to eliminate language, Noa has declared free thinking, imagination, and creative works of song, art, poetry and more as sacrilege, and labels those that embrace them Desecrators. But humans are wired for creativity. Deprived, the mind withers and dies.

Favourite quote: “Music comes in all colours, Letta, just as we do. Before I knew the word ‘Creator’, I called us colour-catchers, the musicians, the painters, the dancers. That’s what we try to do, catch the colours in our own hearts and share that with other people.” ~Leyla to Letta

*’Words are…’ by J Aislynn d’Merricksson, Jonas Merricksson, and Winter Dolan

????? A must read for fans of dystopic and post-apocalyptic fiction.

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