Sunday, 3 September 2017

The List by Patricia Forde

'The here and now is only the smallest part of who we are. Each of us is all that we have been, all our stories, all that we could be'. 

Letta is an apprentice wordsmith in the city of Ark, a dystopian world where all technology and animals have been destroyed in a great flood. Her job is to distribute 'The List' a set of 500 words that the citizens of Ark are allowed to use. All other words are censored. So what would life be like to live in a world without words? Without the ability to express hopes or dreams?

I loved the concept of this book, but I must admit I thought it would extremely difficult for the author to convey a world in which most of the characters were extremely limited in their vocabulary. However, I felt this was handled wonderfully. The main characters were all free to speak 'old' (i.e. 'Proper' English), and the story was not hindered by the others inability to speak in this way. I felt the story perhaps took inspiration from our modern world - how often do people speak in abbreviated terms these days? At one point early on in the story, Marco even uses the term 'LOL', although Letta doesn't understand its meaning.

I loved the idea that words truly are our pathway to freedom and power. However, this wasn't a perfect novel for me.

The pace was quite slow at times, only really picking up pace from about 50% onwards when Letta finally realised what has happened to Benjamin, and what Noa (the main antagonist) was up to. The first half seems to concentrate more on Letta's day to day issues and her inner turmoils over the resistance. Also, as a dystopian novel, it follows the predictable pattern of other similar dystopian worlds (i.e. Dictator trying to pass the world off as a Utopia, an uprising of rebels and the conflicted hero) but it had enough of a unique concept to carry me through.

A lovely little dystopian novel.

 - 4 stars

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