Letta is an apprentice wordsmith in Ark, a community of people who survived the Melting thanks to their leader John Noa. Noa believes that many of the problems in the world before the Melting came about because of how people used words to manipulate others so people in Ark are only allowed to speak using the List of 700 words. Letta and her master are the ones who distribute the words to the rest of Ark. When a strange boy stumbles into her shop one day, on the run from the gavvers who police Ark, Letta nurses him back to help and learns that he doesn't believe Noa is the savior she has always believed. And then when her master is found dead and Letta becomes the head wordsmith, she starts to learn secrets and begins to doubt much of what she has believed her entire life.
This is a standard dystopia without many changes to the format, but it is a well done formula. Things are not as great as they seem, their charismatic leader is not the savior they thought, the rebels might be the ones who know what's really happening, only a crazy plot can save their society, and so on. Despite that, I was interested in the premise and spent a decent amount of time trying to imagine only using 500 words to convey everything I wanted to convey. My only real concern about the book is whether my kids still care about dystopias or not. I think the interest is waning. But if it's not, I really need a list of the 500 words so I can try to craft my booktalk using only those to get them interested!
P.S. The cover looks more like a young girl getting ready for a fantastic adventure in the big city rather than an oppressed society.