Note: Top Shelf Text was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own!
The category of dystopian books is pretty well saturated at this point. We have our classics, our pop-culture phenomenons, and it can be hard to find something original in the mix. To me, The List is a stand-out, a unique spin on dystopian society and a middle grade book that I'll certainly be recommending to readers this year. The List is set in a dystopian future, one in which climate change led to an event called the Melting, when polar ice caps plunged into the sea, creating floods, havoc, and few survivors. Letta lives in the city of Ark, a haven from the pollution and chaos that rules the outside world, founded and preserved by the city's leader, John Noa. Letta is an apprentice to the city's wordsmith, a man who collects the words of Ark and carefully controls The List.
The List features 500 words, the only words that citizens of Ark are permitted to speak. Noa claims that language -- flowery, persuasive -- was the catalyst to the downfall of man. In the former world, while climate change raged out of control, politicians used language to calm the people, stopping them from taking action and dooming all mankind to a bleak future. Noa believes that language should be used for basic function only, so citizens are forbade from using words that are not on The List, and those who do so are cast from society.
Letta, being the wordsmith's apprentice, has access to all of the words, not just the ones on The List. She's a devout follower of Noa, but she can't help loving language, real language, as it was used before. One day, Letta's master goes missing, and Letta is promoted to the position of wordsmith. Soon after, a boy stumbles into Letta's shop and on impulse, she hides him. She discovers that the boy is from outside Ark, that he is known as a Desecrator, a threat to her beloved community, but she cares for him anyways. It is then that the façade of Ark begins to unravel, and Letta discovers some deeply disturbing information about Ark and the future of its citizens.
I thought that the world-building in this novel was outstanding, and when I finished I was hoping to discover that it would be a series. I'd happily follow Letta and her friends for another adventure, if that ever became the case. I think, too, that this book brought up a lot of great discussion points that are relevant to the state of our society now. Recommended for fans of The Mapmakers Trilogy and for readers fourth grade and up.
This title will be released on August 8, 2017.
Bottom-Line Rating: 5/5
Title: The List
Author: Patricia Forde
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2017
Price: $10 to Pre-order on Amazon
Format: Ebook / Hardcover
Source: Net Galley / Sourcebooks Jabberwocky