I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky on August 8th 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Dystopian
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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.
The writing style of this book was definitely the highlight of the book for me. If the book wasn’t as well written as it was, I doubt I would have finished it. While leaning on the simple side (which is perfect for middle grade readers), the writing flowed well and had a great balance of description and action. There were times where I felt the pace start to lag, but before I knew it things would pick up again.
I struggled to decide what I thought about the worldbuilding in this book. On the one hand, the idea of limiting language as a way to control people is really interesting and it was pretty well executed. However, it’s not a new or unique idea. Also the world is quite small and on the simple side, which I think works really well for middle grade readers but doesn’t translate as well for more seasoned readers.
I enjoyed the characters in this book. Letta was a realistic character and I appreciated that she wasn’t fearless and didn’t always know what to do. She makes mistakes and is scared when she gets into sticky situations. There is a bit of a romance, but it’s definitely in the background and doesn’t overtake the main storyline.
Overall, there wasn’t anything about this book that I hated, but there wasn’t really anything I loved either. I found myself bored throughout most of this book because the ideas explored weren’t new to me. I don’t need ideas to be completely new, but to keep my interest there needs to be some sort of new twist or take on it, which was missing in this novel. However, I do think this book works really well as an introductory dystopian novel for middle grade readers. The worldbuilding and writing style are great for middle grade readers, and if they don’t have much experience in the dystopian genre, then I think they will really enjoy the ideas explored in this book.