Justin Cronin delivers a compelling and fantastic book with his new release, The Ferryman. He seamlessly blends psychology, action, character study, and dystopian elements. Plus, the twists kept coming during the entire second half. If that’s not enough, I can’t wait to reread The Ferryman.

This is a challenging story to explain without moving into the twists. Since I’m committed to blogging spoiler-free, you’ll have to trust me on the effectiveness of the last half of the book.

But, as the book begins, we meet Proctor Bennett. He lives on an island called Prospera, presumably after cataclysmic events on Earth. Using future technologies, island residents are “reiterated” multiple times. They reach “retirement” only to be shipped to a lab and recreated as a new person. And Bennett is part of a team responsible for delivering the retirees to a ferry where they travel to the lab. As you can see, the story relies on science fiction and futurism.

At the same time, we learn that Proctor experiences sleepwalking incidents and begins to feel unsettled with his life and job duties. As a counterbalance, Cronin also introduces Thea. She’s a woman who straddles the world of Prospera and the nearby Annex. At the Annex, no one gets “reiterated.” The population lives and dies in the typical human way. They also live to serve the residents of Prospera. When Thea and Proctor connect, events in these very different places start imploding.

My conclusions

As I said above, I couldn’t put The Ferryman down. I spent every spare moment for a week reading it and loving every moment.

Cronin is a storytelling master. He built characters I cared about, even if I didn’t always like them. And while the plot draws from other futuristic stories, Cronin offers an original approach to post-apocalyptic events and decisions.

You can’t read dystopian fiction without suspending disbelief. Reiteration? Sure, it seems far off in the future. But that’s the point here. And how Cronin develops the final chapters wasn’t unexpected. He subtly projects the big twist, which added to my enjoyment. Once the big twist hits, the book’s lens opens wider, and then Cronin adds more complexity and layers. It’s positively excellent work!

Pair with some Octavia Butler. For example, Parable of the Sower, Dawn, or Wild Seed. I noticed elements from all three in Cronin’s work with The Ferryman.


Thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books, and the author for a digital advanced reader’s copy in exchange for this honest review. The expected publication date for this book is May 2, 2023.