The List

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Author: Patricia Forde
Genre: Middle Grade, Dystopia
Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Release Date: August 1, 2017
Pages: 336 (HC)

Author Website|Book Depository|Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: 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 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 of their power of speech, she realizes that it’s up to her to save not only words, but culture itself.


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I first wanted to read this novel because the concept really caught my attention, living on only five hundred sanctioned words is just mad, but it makes for an interesting read. There were many times I moved along chapters with such ease, others where I needed to pause and pick it up another day. Even so, I was very pleased with The List. Noa, who is the leader of Ark, has twisted things in such a way that has left almost everyone fearing anything and everything. Of course, the law doesn’t really apply to him.

“The key glided through the mechanism with a tiny metallic click. The heavy door fell open, and Letta caught her breath as she always did when confronted with the master’s library. Here were the words he in isolation, the words forever removed from everyday use. Shelf after shelf, from floor to ceiling, the boxes were packed with words that would survive, even if they could never be used in Letta’s lifetime.”

Then there is Letta, the newly titled Wordsmith, finding herself in the middle of an uprising when she gets involved with Marlo whom she believes might be a Desecrator, against everything that the Ark stands for, but there is so much more going on that will bring her world crashing down. There are feels that resemble The Giver in this novel, worlds that are almost void of all free will, with nothing that makes a person unique like art or music. Everything is set in its ways and anyone wanting to change that gets banished with no hope (not even in writing) of making it past one day outside of the Ark.

“Stop!’ Noa said ‘Enough. I don’t want to hear about your barbarity. Where is he now?’ ‘In the holding cell. If he hasn’t died yet.’ Letta heard Noa sigh. ‘Take him to the forest then and dispose of him.’ ‘Maybe it would be safer to kill him, master?’ ‘No!’ Noa said. ‘We do not kill. Nature will take care of those we need to eliminate. How long can an injured old man survive in the forest? We need not interfere.”

At times, I found The List to be a little more than a middle grade book, at other times it fit right in with the genre. Even though there were many similarities with other dystopian novels, it had enough uniqueness to make it worth the read. I enjoyed very much how the list of words came to be, what caused all of it, and the final chapters kept me very much interested and wanting to find out the outcome of Ark and everyone residing within its walls.

***I received this copy from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.***


  1. Jana Leah

    October 29, 2017 at 4:51 am

    I love the premise of this story.

  2. danielle hammelef

    December 1, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I haven’t heard of this book before. Based on your review, and my need to read more middle grade, I’m going to check this book out.

  3. Fee Roberts

    December 21, 2017 at 2:35 pm

    This sounds really good. I love middle grade reads.


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