*I received a free ecopy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
I love reading about different versions of the afterlife and all things related, so reading about a ferryman was right up my alley. Oddly enough though, this book turned out to be not so much about afterlife and far more about life and what it means to live.
That being said, the whole concept of the Ferryman Institute, the actual institute in the book, was so unique and creative! There were the ferrymen, and each one had a team that also consisted of a manager, who would choose assignments based on the ferryman’s skill level, and a navigator, who would sort through the info when the person’s life flashed before their eyes and gives the important points to the ferryman. Then the ferrymen would go off and try to convince the person to actually cross into the afterlife. There were rules, a whole control room, etc., and I loved the thought that went into the way the Institute worked.
The book was also funny! Within literally 1% of the book, I was laughing so hard I was almost crying. (It was that part about the envelope not opening—you’ll understand if you read it.) The book wasn’t quite as hilarious from there on out, but it was still somewhat funny. And because their limbs grow back, the ferrymen kept chopping limbs off like it was the most normal thing in the world, and that just became comical to me too.
The book also had some emotion. Not a ton, but there were some parts that made me feel for the characters.
One of the problems I had though was that I didn’t care for Alice. Her personality and sense of humor just didn’t click with me. But Charlie was interesting, kind of brooding and tortured, but also sarcastic and funny. He also gave some really riveting speeches. Even though I couldn’t actually hear the cadence of his voice and all that, I was just as hypnotized as Alice.
Javrouche, however, was possibly even more interesting and a somewhat sympathetic antagonist. When I found out his story, I truly did feel bad for him. And even though it wasn’t Charlie’s fault, I understood why Javrouche blamed him. So I didn’t agree with Javrouche’s actions, but the author did do a good job of making him an antagonist whose actions were plausible, and I could see why they made sense to him.
As for the plot, it took a while for the book to get started. By 10% I understood Charlie’s dilemma, but roughly the entire first 30% was just thoughts and chats with Cartwright and assignments and all stuff explaining the dilemma. I felt like I was being beat over the head with it. But after that, the book got more action-packed, and I got sucked in. And near the end, all these twists and turns started coming, and I was just as confounded and fascinated as Charlie was!
So overall, this was a funny, twisty, somewhat whimsical book with a unique take on ferrymen, and I’m glad I gave it a read.
In this stunning, fantastical debut novel from a bold new voice in the bestselling traditions of Christopher Moore and Jasper Fforde, a ferryman for the dead finds his existence unraveling after making either the best decision or the biggest mistake of his immortal life.
Ferryman Charlie Dawson saves dead people—somebody has to convince them to move on to the afterlife, after all. Having never failed a single assignment, he’s acquired a reputation for success that’s as legendary as it is unwanted. It turns out that serving as a Ferryman is causing Charlie to slowly lose his mind. Deemed too valuable by the Ferryman Institute to be let go and too stubborn to just give up in his own right, Charlie’s pretty much abandoned all hope of escaping his grim existence. Or he had, anyway, until he saved Alice Spiegel. To be fair, Charlie never planned on stopping Alice from taking her own life—that sort of thing is strictly forbidden by the Institute—but he never planned on the President secretly giving him the choice to, either. Charlie’s not quite sure what to make of it, but Alice is alive, and it’s the first time he’s felt right in more than two hundred years.
When word of the incident reaches Inspector Javrouche, the Ferryman Institute’s resident internal affairs liaison, Charlie finds he’s in a world of trouble. But Charlie’s not about to lose the only living, breathing person he’s ever saved without a fight. He’s ready to protect her from Javrouche and save Alice from herself, and he’s willing to put the entire continued existence of mankind at risk to do it.
Written in the same vein as bestselling modern classics such as The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde and A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, The Ferryman Institute is a thrilling supernatural adventure packed with wit and humor.