After global warming hits the world and the Biblical flood happens again, a man creates a modern ark. In this eco-friendly ark, the last survivors on earth try to recreate a world where people are controlled. Noa has seen how humans have betrayed themselves by the foul use of words. By consequence, the Ark can use only 500 chosen words.
This world is minimalist since it rations everything. It proves the power of the words to humanize or dehumanize. Being limited in words rips us of choices and makes us feel trapped. Some emotions, some feelings cannot be expressed with just a few words to choose from. Art cannot exist. Communication is reduced.
When Letta, the main protagonist, uncovers a plan to suppress language altogether, which will rob Ark’s citizens of their power of speech, she decides to act against it.
Although the concept is fascinating, the novel in itself is on the slow side and many characters are two-dimensional. The idea of everybody in the Ark being indoctrinated and following like sheep did remove some of the pleasure of reading because it was hard to care for them. The people outside the Ark on the other hand are more developed and seem more enlightened. That makes this world seem more black and white: the good guys on one side and the bad guy on the other side. Honestly, I am surprised that so much violence and such a grown up concept would slip into a Middle Grade novel. I almost want to say that this novel would have done better with an older audience in mind.
The part where they rebuild the world was interesting and the novel overall is unique because it gives the reader a reflection on how important culture plays in our happiness. Communication, invention, art, choices in food and in mates, freedom of deciding on our fate, etc., are important to thrive. Mere surviving and being enslaved by a code of conduct are not living. In brief, a novel that has a lot to please, but that lets me with mixed feelings.
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Date of publication: August 8, 2017
Author's website: http://www.patriciaforde.com/