By: Angie Haddock
Founded by the mysterious genius known as the Designer, the archipelago of Prospera lies hidden from the horrors of a deteriorating outside world. In this island paradise, Prospera’s lucky citizens enjoy long, fulfilling lives until the monitors embedded in their forearms, meant to measure their physical health and psychological well-being, fall below 10 percent. Then they retire themselves, embarking on a ferry ride to the island known as the Nursery, where their failing bodies are renewed, their memories are wiped clean, and they are readied to restart life afresh.
I described this one to my husband as “Divergent at the beginning, WandaVision by the end… with a little Lost in the middle.” And I stand by that statement! But, with the paper version expected to come in well over 500 pages, there is obviously a lot more nuance between those basic comparisons.
Our main character is Proctor Bennett, who is a Ferryman in his forties. His job is to collect Prosperans who are nearing the end of their lives, and escort them to the ferry that will take them to the Nursery. He is married, with no kids. He has a leadership position within his profession. Some people are spooked by what he does for a living, but he sees it as helping people.
What I consider the “inciting incident” happens pretty early here, when Proctor is assigned to take his own father to the ferry. His father, seemingly ok with his circumstances at first, suddenly becomes manic and seems to be trying to tell Proctor something. Is it just the ramblings of an old man out of his depth, or no?
As Proctor starts asking questions, his life starts to unravel around him – and so does the world of Prospera. Coincidence? Of course not. But what does it all mean?!
This brings me to the “Lost” comparison. Yes, it’s an island where not everything is as it seems. Certain characters feel more like symbols than real people. There’s even a section where they are literally in a waiting room. But if you’re the type that felt constant frustration at the ol’ TV show, have faith… all does get revealed here in time.
And, as we can see, this is a far cry from the YA themes found in “Divergent,” as well. This is real grown-up sci-fi, where we see characters dealing with midlife crises – marital strife, asking whether their lives to this point have had meaning, etc. – as well as some characters dealing with the ends of their lives.
(Sidenote: do you ever “cast” books in your head? Sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t, but there were a couple characters here that I had clear ideas for! Just a fun thing to think about sometimes…)
This book comes out today, May 2nd. I read ahead on NetGalley, thanks to the publisher, Penguin Random House.