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
As I began listening to "Lexicon," I couldn't help but draw parallels to "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins. In both books, the protagonist is a disadvantaged teenage girl using her smarts to beat the elite who control the masses in a near future dystopian society. I enjoyed "The Hunger Games" a lot. I enjoyed "Lexicon" almost as much.
The difference is, Lexicon kept me hankering after details and information that would explain exactly where these characters came from and how they tick. Author Max Barry knows how to tell a story - and crafting a tight, exciting plot is clearly his strength. I wonder if he's written screen plays because that's the flavor of this book every once in awhile. And yet I have to concede, Max Barry is a talented wordsmith, so why not use some of those words to explain some "whys" in addition to the "whats" and "whens?" Maybe clue us in on how the characters became who they are before they hit the ground running for the thrill ride of "Lexicon." The characters seemed almost incidental to the story, if that makes any sense. The author's amazingly creative idea of a world where words are weapons and transparency is weakness, intrigued me. However, in his excitement to show the reader all the cool stuff that happens in this world, characterization suffers. Barry glosses over details that would give the story more poignancy and heart. The biggest explosion or gun battle ends up sort of "meh" for me if I'm not significantly invested in the person in peril.
All in all, I liked "Lexicon." The ideas and themes of the novel are worth pondering. The warning bell sounded in response to our society's propensity for sharing information way too easily (but wait a sec! I got 10% off at Macy's just for signing up for their emails!) is ample food for thought. It's just that in the real world, providing personal information for your novel's protagonist elevates the book from "good" to "great."
The premise was excellent. The writing simply didn't live up to it.
The parts where the protagonist is young and "innocent" are way too simplistic. The effort to build suspense is too painstaking and heavy handed. The language that the author creates to show the power of words is almost ridiculous. Most of the characters are one-dimensional, even the ones who supposedly 'change' do so in very predictable ways.
Maybe this is a novel for teens and I missed that. It was certainly not for me. I could not make myself finish it.
The male narrator is not bad. The female narrator is grating.
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.
I would give this book 2.5 to 3 stars.The idea of the book was good however the writing was quite simplistic, it was quite disjointed and there were was one part in particular which was quite illogical and didn't make sense.. The author never really developed his ideas and I was left wondering why he introduced some of them. Many chapters just ended and left things unexplained which is often a great way for the reader to use their imagination, in this case, however it felt more like the author either didn't know how to explain it.
I thought that the narrators did a good job except for the appalling Australian accents. The male wasn't too bad but truly it would have been better if the lady did not attempt it. Very off putting for Australian readers.
I found the book to be an easy, pleasant enough listen but definitely lacking and didn't reach it's full potential. I won't be reading any other Max Barry books.
Max Barry’s 2003 novel Jennifer Government was a spectacular, and terrifyingly possible, near-future dystopia of corporate overreach and government impotence. And his latest novel, Lexicon is a worthy followup — a crazily inventive conspiracy thriller about the abuse of language as a weapon.
i love Sci-Fi, and i hate capitalizing the letter i. it should be done automatically in this day and age. i hate boring books.
Really enjoyed this. It was a fast paced, exciting story that captivated me. Really clever ideas and well written action. Good characters and great twists. All through was a thread of underlying commentary on society and communication as a whole. The resolution was satisfying and left me feeling that the story was worth the listen.
The narrators voices were pleasant and diverse. Great performance.
If this came recommended to you through some audible filter, just get it. You won't be disappointed.
Well done Max Berry! This book came out of nowhere and smacked me in the face, I had no idea what kind of a wild ride I was getting into. Not only a thrilling, fun story but a smart perspective on current culture that made you pause and think.
The concept was original. The book kept me guessing throughout. Who was bad? Who was good? The only thing that was disappointing was the end. It kind of left things hanging.
I enjoyed it quite a bit. maybe I am just an easy audience, but this book was great. I was a little lost as to the temporal jumping about at first, but I caught on quickly enough. neat concepts, engaging storyline, and interesting characters. well done
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