In the city of Ark, speech is constrained to five hundred sanctioned words. Speak outside the approved lexicon and face banishment. The exceptions are the Wordsmith and his apprentice, Letta, the keepers and the archivists of all language in their post-apocalyptic, neo-medieval world. On the death of her master, Letta is suddenly promoted to Wordsmith, charged with collecting and saving words. But when she uncovers a sinister plan to suppress language and rob Ark’s citizens power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.
When I stumbled across this book on Netgalley, I had not heard of it before. I was originally drawn in by the cover; it is just so pretty! In The List’s description on Netgalley, it is compared to the likes of Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver. Being a huge fan of both of these books, I knew right away I just had to read this book! I am so glad I got approved to read an advanced copy of this! I just adored the story!
The List is a middle grade dystopian novel that deals with censorship. This is the type of book I can see being read in middle school classrooms. It deals with important topics such as censorship and standing up for what is right, both topics that I feel should be discussed at this age. While I can’t say this book was completely unique, as it was very reminiscent of other dystopians I have read, it was still a fun and entertaining read that I know I would have really enjoyed reading in school.
The protagonist, Letta, is an apprentice to a Wordsmith, meaning she transcribes words for the 500 word List. The words on this List are the only words allowed to be spoken by the residents of the city of Ark. If a resident is found speaking words outside the List, they are banished from the community. Those banished are left to nature; either they will get taken by the wild animals in the woods or saved by the Desecrators. The Desecrators are rebels who do not live by the rules of John Noa, the creator of Ark. John Noa believes language was the reason for mankind’s downfall that led to the Melting. The Melting was caused by the polar ice caps melting and destroying most of the Earth. John Noa took this opportunity to create Ark where he would be able to have total control. In Ark, he restricts the community of language, music, and art.
When Letta is told her master, Benjamin has died, she goes from being an apprentice to the community’s Wordsmith. After this happens she becomes aware of the evilness of John Noa and of a masterplan to eliminate language from the world entirely. It’s up to Letta and her friends to defeat his evil plan and save the community.
This was a book about working together and standing up for what is right, even if it goes against everything that was taught. I thought this book was a fun read and would recommend it to children of middle school age and fans of The Giver and other dystopians alike. I rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars. Publication date is August 1, 2017.
Thank you to Netgalley, the publisher, and Patricia Forde for an advanced copy of this book in return for an honest review.