The book description calls Patricia Forde's The List "Fahrenheit 451 meets The Giver for middle grade readers!" That seems pretty apt. The List is cut from the same cloth as the recent trend of teen-oriented post-apocalyptic and dystopia fiction. While this whole genre of YA novels would point to classics like Fahrenheit 451 and The Giver as sources of inspiration, none of them measure up, including The List.
Letta, Forde's young, female heroine (most of these have young, female heroines, of course) is the assistant to the Wordsmith of Ark. Ark was founded by an environmentalist named Noa (haha) who became frustrated when no one heeded his warnings about the rising sea level. He established Ark, the ice caps melted, and his new city was high and dry, seemingly the last remnant of human civilization.
Noa, the authoritarian leader of the tightly controlled community of Ark, believes that language was the root of all of humanity's problems. "Our aim is to curtail the use of language," he tells Letta, who becomes the Wordsmith after her mentor disappears. "As you know, throwing words around is quite irresponsible, considering our history." His public agenda is to limit language to The List, a list of a few hundred words. His private agenda, which Letta eventually catches wind of, is much more insidious.
The List isn't bad. It checks all the boxes for the genre. Noa is a caricature of the evil dictator with a charming side. The central planning and the enforcers of societal structure are stock as well. The List is not wholly cookie-cutter, but it was not original or well-written enough for me to love it.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the complimentary electronic review copy!