cover image The Ferryman

The Ferryman

Justin Cronin. Ballantine, $30 (560p) ISBN 978-0-525-61947-5

Bestseller Cronin’s first novel since his Passage trilogy is a fantastic extravaganza all its own, with a plot that hinges on unpredictable twists that run far ahead of reader expectations. Proctor Bennett, an elite resident of the socially regimented archipelago world of Prospera, works as a “ferryman,” assisting aging fellow Prosperans to transition peacefully to their next “iteration,” the reconstitution of their personalities in younger bodies. Proctor discharges his duties with great professionalism—until the ferrying of his own father goes dramatically awry, exposing cracks in Prospera’s edenic veneer. Now a dangerous fugitive on the run from his own forced iteration, Proctor enters an unlikely alliance with rebellious subversives inhabiting the Annex, the island that is home to Prospera’s disgruntled working class. Having established the foundations for what appears to be a classic dystopian tale, Cronin then pulls the rug out from under his story, audaciously expanding its scope far beyond the hermetic parameters that have shaped Proctor’s account up to that point and pushing it into the realm of provocative conceptual science fiction. Cronin’s firm command of the plot’s sinuous dynamics, and his creation of believable characters shaped by well-wrought strengths and flaws, make this bold gesture work. The result is a sensational speculative tale that is sure to get people talking. Agent: Ellen Levine, Trident Media. (May)