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Lexicon | [Max Barry]

Lexicon

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics - at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets": adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.
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Publisher's Summary

At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics - at least not in the usual ways. Instead, they are taught to persuade. Here the art of coercion has been raised to a science. Students harness the hidden power of language to manipulate the mind and learn to break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. The very best will graduate as "poets": adept wielders of language who belong to a nameless organization that is as influential as it is secretive.

Whip-smart orphan Emily Ruff is making a living running a three-card Monte game on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization's recruiters. She is flown across the country for the school's strange and rigorous entrance exams, where, once admitted, she will be taught the fundamentals of persuasion by Brontë, Eliot, and Lowell - who have adopted the names of famous poets to conceal their true identities. For in the organization, nothing is more dangerous than revealing who you are: Poets must never expose their feelings lest they be manipulated. Emily becomes the school's most talented prodigy until she makes a catastrophic mistake: She falls in love.

Meanwhile, a seemingly innocent man named Wil Jamieson is brutally ambushed by two strange men in an airport bathroom. Although he has no recollection of anything they claim he's done, it turns out Wil is the key to a secret war between rival factions of poets and is quickly caught in their increasingly deadly crossfire. As the two narratives converge, the shocking work of the poets is fully revealed, the body count rises, and the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless.

©2013 Max Barry (P)2013 Penguin Audio

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.0 (1059 )
5 star
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4.0 (962 )
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Story
4.2 (955 )
5 star
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4 star
 (378)
3 star
 (112)
2 star
 (33)
1 star
 (15)
Performance
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  •  
    Lynne 08-26-14
    Lynne 08-26-14
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    199
    17
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    "Linguistic Impossibilities...or Not?"

    This book attracted me because of my linguistics background. You have to read the book to "get" the title, but it doesn't require an understanding of linguistics nor even of the word "lexicon" to understand the plot.

    I wanted to see what Barry would do with the language. The answer is "nothing much." It's just background for yet another world-domination-by-elitist-group-gone-rogue story and is overall rather predictable. I don't want to spoil the ending, but let me just say that it left me yawning. That's not to say that I didn't listen avidly to the whole thing--after all, Barry has a way of keeping you plugged in with his twists and turns of the story. The problem, though, is that in this book, the twists and turns are unexpected mainly because they are improbable.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chris Nashville, TN 07-06-13
    Chris Nashville, TN 07-06-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    23
    ratings
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    35
    10
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    2
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    Story
    "Very unique and imaginative"

    Lexicon is a great listen. It has the most interesting theme that I have read in a long time. Half Jason Bourne spy novel, half super hero comic, it takes a unique idea and many well written characters and weaves a dramatic and very entertaining tale for them. My only complaint about the book is that I think it should have been longer. The ending feels a little rushed, and there are some back story and character development that could... no, should have been fleshed out. All in all, though, one of the best books on Audible.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aSimpleMan 05-09-15
    aSimpleMan 05-09-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    3
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    0
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    Story
    "Good performance, I wasn't a huge fan of the story"

    I thoroughly enjoyed the many accents by the actors. It really was a joy to listen to and made everything more believable. However, I found the story a so-so interpretation of an interesting idea : words and neuro chemistry. I didn't find the writing particularly strong and things, overall, felt a little in the dull side. I would maybe be open to a different interpretation of the themes and ideas of this book by a different author.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marylou J. Valencia 04-29-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    54
    5
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    "A worthy story for the commute"

    A very good book. I usually judge my books by whether or not I want to take the long way home from work and I definitely added extra miles to my truck while commuting home this week.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Taryn 03-01-15
    Taryn 03-01-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    6
    2
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    0
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    Story
    "Unique and Engaging Story"
    Where does Lexicon rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This ranks near the top of my list of books I've listened to thus far.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Eliot. He is the one mysterious character that even to the very end you still could not fully understand who he was.


    What does Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Their interpretations of the characters made it more interesting. I think if I had read the book I might have interpreted them a little differently.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    This book made me laugh and it made me sad.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Shawn Dundas, ON, Canada 02-23-15
    Shawn Dundas, ON, Canada 02-23-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    20
    4
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    "Not my favorite"

    A great premise, but a confusing timeline. not one of my favorites, but worth the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Houser Fort Wayne, IN 02-13-15
    Paul Houser Fort Wayne, IN 02-13-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    6
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    0
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    Story
    "Clever near-future thriller"

    By the end this book was an audio page turner. Clever concept and compelling subplots that converge in unexpected ways.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CT 02-03-15
    CT 02-03-15 Member Since 2013

    I'm a PhD student in Linguistics in California, and I like to be positive (but my reviews maybe don't support that statement). I <3 books!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    9
    2
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    0
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    Story
    "Hate terrible Australian accents? Steer clear"
    Where does Lexicon rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Top 15%


    Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?

    Yes, the plot was great. The author made sure there was always something I didn't know, keeping me guessing what was next.


    What didn’t you like about Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman ’s performance?

    Worst accents ever (except "Jennifer Government" was even worse). SO painful.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    What's the audo equivalent of a page-turner? Not sure. But that, even with the terrible fake accents.


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Miller Rochester, MN 01-19-15
    Bob Miller Rochester, MN 01-19-15

    Magician

    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    0
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    "Fantasy made into believable reality"
    If you could sum up Lexicon in three words, what would they be?

    Mind Control Organization


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Lexicon?

    A memorable moment for me was when I realized who was the antagonist from the beginning of the novel. It was a surprising perspective change.


    Which character – as performed by Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman – was your favorite?

    Emily.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    If you can be categorized, you can be controlled.


    Any additional comments?

    If someone were to describe this book as a powerful organization that can control people by saying phrases imbued with power, you might assume that this is a fantasy book about witchcraft. But the author has made what could be described as fantasy into a believable science-fiction story through the progressive development of the science involved. Coolio!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Huebert San Francisco, CA United States 01-11-15
    J. Huebert San Francisco, CA United States 01-11-15 Member Since 2013

    I have been a voracious reader since I was a child.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    ratings
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    129
    11
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    0
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    "Excellent narration, but the story needs some work"

    The synopsis looked great and I was very happy with both the male and female narrators (though the woman did an Australian accent terribly, it wasn't too distracting). But the storytelling was a letdown. Crazy, gritty chase and destruction scenes played out for far too long. Instead of going on and on about them, the author should have taken more time to develop the story surrounding what these students were learning and why. The sci-fi nerd in me wanted more details about the mechanics of mind control, and fewer high speed chase scenes. This could have been a great novel.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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