A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word.
In the not-so-distant future, the forecasted "death of print" has become a reality. Bookstores, libraries, newspapers, and magazines are a thing of the past, as we spend our time glued to handheld devices called memes that not only keep us in constant communication but have become so intuitive as to hail us cabs before we leave our offices, order takeout at the first growl of a hungry stomach, and even create and sell language itself in a marketplace called the Word Exchange.
Anana Johnson works with her father, Doug, at the North American Dictionary of the English Language, where he is hard at work on the last edition that will ever be printed. Doug is a staunchly anti-meme, anti-tech intellectual who fondly remembers the days when people used e-mail to communicate - or even actually spoke to one another. One evening, Doug disappears, leaving a single written clue: ALICE - a code word he and Anana devised to signal if one of them ever fell into harm's way. Thus begins Anana's journey down the proverbial rabbit hole.
Joined by Bart, her bookish colleague, Anana's search for Doug will take her into dark basement incinerator rooms, underground passages of the Mercantile Library, secret meetings of the anonymous Diachronic Society, the boardrooms of the evil online retailing site Synchronic, and ultimately to the hallowed halls of the Oxford English Dictionary - spiritual home of the written word. As Ana pieces together what is going on, and Bart gets sicker and sicker with the strange "word flu" that has spread worldwide and causes people to speak in gibberish, Alena Graedon crafts a fresh, cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a thoughtful meditation on the price of technology and the unforeseen, though very real, dangers of the digital age.
©2014 Alena Graedon (P)2014 Blackstone Audiobooks
Probably a better book to read. Narrators lost me. Just did not gain momentum. Not terrible and may look at another book by the author but would be hard pressed to recommend this audiobook.
I won't go into a lot of detail about the story itself, nor the writing, both of which held promise that never materialized. I suspect this writer has another, hopefully better, book in her that will come to light eventually. I wouldn't recommend this book.
The audio quality of this narration, however, I have to comment on. The narrators, themselves, were good, no complaints there, but the technical quality of the recording was marred constantly by spliced in re-recordings of small sections where the entire tone/volume/atmosphere of the recording changed, distracting me from the story each time it happened. Which was: frequently. I'm no audio technician, but it seems to me that if you have to re-recerd parts of an audio book, you do so in the same setting with the same equipment set to the same levels. These parts sounded like they were re-recorded on an iPhone and edited in much later.
The summary looked great! I moved this book up to the top of my "Next Read" list. And boy was a disappointed. From the start, I had a very hard time focusing on this book. My mind wandered with easy because it was just not engaged. I was finding other things to listen to when commuting. I decided I would give it a little more time but when it shifted to the perspective of another character with a different narrator, it devolved into a long-winded recollection that might eventually have some relevance to the novel but at the time was utterly boring and uninteresting. I understand this is a book about people who love words but that is not a license to use them indiscriminately just to for the sake of using big words.
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