Ferryman is Twilight for Greek Mythology nerds. There’s no shame in saying this. For some readers it will be a great boon. The book is the first of a three-part Fantasy YA trilogy in which a teenage version of Charon falls for a human girl whose soul he’s supposed to reap. Leaden and with a morose and foreboding sense of drama, the book follows a formula and rarely manages much in the originality department. But for some teenagers it will have a certain appeal, thus it doesn’t take a trip to my personal underworld – the land of the Ds!
Dylan is a morose teenager whose best friend has recently moved. She’s dealing with bio-parent drama (her dad wants back into her life suddenly, and she is in town visiting him), and she generally can’t wait for college to happen so she can burst out of her old routines. While texting said best friend Katie, the train she’s riding in crashes, and this is where her life is supposed to end.
Enter broody grim reaper Charon/ferryman Tristan, whose job it is to shepherd Dylan from this world to the next. He is thousands of years old and has done this a million times. Naturally for the novel (and unfortunately for Tristan), Dylan is Special. The One. He falls instantly in love with her with the result that they must now avoid everyone on his side of the veil trying to part them. The find themselves traversing the wastelands of the underworld as they try to figure out what to do next.
This book is emotional junk food, but it’s kind of fearless about that fact. It indulges in non-delineated head-hopping which is super annoying; its protagonist just kinda shrugs at the notion of being dead, all the better to get along with the business of mooning over her soulmate, natch. But at least Dylan has a life and spirit of her own, and is no wet blanket Bella Swan.
But does that make her an interesting protagonist? God, no! She’s here for teenagers to project themselves onto and thus offers no qualities or special destinies aside from loving Tristan, who marks her out as special because… well, at least his ENEMIES think she’s special because she’s a virgin, which makes her soul taste sweeter. Yep, that awkward you are special because we haven’t fucked but we really need to fuck but we can’t theme from Twilight is carried over here as clumsily as humanly possible. Don’t think too hard about how Tristan is basically an immortal creeping on a girl who’s supposed to be in her teens and at one point admires her back while she’s changing her shirt. Twilight. That is all.
Also oh, did this book need a good solid hundred pages wacked off of it. The repetitive nature of Tristan and Dylan’s escape does them no favors; the dull wasteland, the easily defeated but scarybad aggressive enemies, the love-conquers-all theme.
Ferryman will be made into a movie at some point, having scored a production deal in 2018. Whether it will become a camp classic like the Twilight series or a complicated and all-but-forgotten show like The Mortal Instruments series will be left up to fate. But unless your teen really likes Twilight-themed romantic connections, pass this one by.