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The List Hardcover – August 1, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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"An electric sci-fi novel with a strong ecological and moral stance." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"[A] gripping postapocalyptic thriller... it is a well-crafted page-turner, as well as a compelling commentary on censorship and the role of language, while also inviting discussion about what distinguishes humans from animals. For dystopian fiction aficionados, this well-paced entry offers plenty of food for thought.
" - School Library Journal
"Forde's pacing and characterization are compelling... An intriguing speculation about authoritarian futures with a terrific cover." - Kirkus
"Patricia Forde crafts a richly imagined future society, the development of which feels all too plausible in today's climate... This is a story with a message and a purpose, one full of relevance and originality. With this novel, Forde reminds us that words do hold power, both to heal and to destroy, and that because of this we should be mindful of how we employ them. This is a love letter to the ways love and art can lift our spirits and replenish our souls in a world that often seems dark.
" - BookPage
"compelling to readers of all ages, The List is a spellbinding book about language, the environment, and humanity's role in protecting them both...A beautiful and absorbing read you won't soon forget." - Bustle.com
"Forde's exploration of language as both weapon and savior is a noble one, and environmental undertones bolster its power. Pair with Patrick Ness' The Knife of Never Letting Go.
" - Booklist
"This novel could be compared Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember (Random House, 2003) where the corrupt government controls the necessities of life."" - School Library Connection
About the Author
Patricia Forde lives in Galway, in the west of Ireland. She has published five books for children and written for television. In another life, she was a primary school teacher and the artistic director of Galway Arts Festival. Visit Patricia at patriciaforde.com.
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--- "Letta is the word-smith's apprentice, one of the few people in Ark who can speak freely. One day while her master is away, a mysterious boy comes into the shop, and her adventure begins! This is a wonderful novel, with adventure and mystery on every page. I love that answers are gradually revealed throughout the book. My favorite character was Letta, who is a great role model and strong heroine: she's smart, kind and determined. She faces many challenges and makes interesting discoveries. She kept me reading. The book does remind me a lot of The Giver (Giver Quartet) . There is one bad word (starts with a d) said by the villain towards the end, and there is some violence in the plot. For that reason, I'd recommend it for 6th graders and up. I loved the book and how thought-provoking it was!"
Benjamin disappears, and Letta becomes the wordsmith, not just a student. She discovers Noa’s plot to do away with all language, and she rebels. Along the way she makes new friends and must be very careful about to whom, when, and where she speaks words that are not on The List.
I immediately saw parallels between this novel and Orwell’s 1984. The dictatorial Noa quickly compares to Big Brother; Letta compares to a young female Winston Smith. The friends she makes along the way could compare to the Proles.
THE LIST is, however, geared toward a tween audience, not the older-teen or adult audience of 1984. Readers still see peril and harshness, which may be too much for more sensitive tweens, but the peril and harshness do suit the circumstances and are at a level for tweens.
In this case those "games" meet "Fahrenheit 451 as we examine the power of, not stories per se, but the very words that make up language
I think its target audience, middle schoolers, who may be less familiar with the numerous other books that touch on the same area will be even more enthralled by Letta, Finn, Amelia, and the rest as they strive to preserve nothing less than the very heart of what makes us human
An adventure well worth the reading
The Wordsmith keeps all the words and regulates those that compose List, e.g. copying List words onto cards for children in schools. The enforcers are the gavvers, who act like police, marking when people do not use List and/or arresting them. Desecrators live outside of society and speak the old language (ours). The story begins when Benjamin, the current wordsmith, leaves to go on a word finding mission and leaves Letta in charge. A sick young boy named Marlo comes to the shop and instead of turning him in, Letta hides and helps him. Marlo is a Desecrator. As Letta questions the society and the choices Noa has made, she realizes the importance of language to humanity.
I think this is a good dystopian novel for middle grade readers, as it is intended. There are some scarier ideas here (e.g. prisoners are tortured and it is mentioned that one has had all his fingernails pulled off), so this should be considered in terms of the ages which should read it. The ideas are rather simple and not as complex as the YA dystopian books, which makes it better for a younger audience. For older readers, this might seem a little nonsensical (e.g. Noa talks about the scientists having warned people but they didn’t listen- but he also banished all the scientists from Ark. Also, words are associated with politicians who spoke too much and prevented people from realizing the depth of global warming, but words were also used as warnings, so this doesn’t necessarily follow).
Additionally, List seems unclear as sometimes it includes prepositions and other times it does not- without, it is definitely more simplistic and less clear, but the sometimes inclusion makes you wonder if they are actually on List. Of course, some people are allowed to speak the old language (Wordsmiths and the government), which helps to make the story very readable- if it was all in List, it would be impossible. The writing is good and the length is relatively short, making it good for the middle grade audience.
I think this is a win for middle grade (but probably not older) audiences and is a good introduction to the dystopian category. I can definitely see this being a great book to spark discussion about humanity and the development of language/its significance. The end is not final, which makes me think there will be a sequel, and I would be curious to see how this series might evolve.
Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.