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
Say something about yourself!
This is Max Barry's take on the theme of how language affects thought with a special focus on language as a code for hacking the brains of other people in order to control them. There are many interesting ideas here, although the fiction does tend to outweigh the science most of the time and the book slips into the fantasy zone on occasion. Nevertheless, the story is strong enough to counter the hand waving going on, and you can't help caring about Barry's very complicated and compelling characters. I would recommend Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash," and Samuel R. Delaney's "Babel 17" as earlier novels on this same theme. If you read them first, you will actually catch some of the subtle nods to these stories in Barry's book.
Lots of unnecessary graphic violence and swearing. Premise is intriguing but the story didn't come together until the very end. Leaping from one scene to another made it awkward to follow. Characters could be better developed. Not terrible, could have been great.
This book is exactly what I was looking for. I read the concept and was sold immediately. The narration is excellently done. The use of two narrators to tell the two sides of the story is great and well used. WARNING: You can enjoy and still be surprised by the twists and turns in this book even if you read on... that being said this is only SLIGHTLY spoilerish so read on at your own risk.I can't help feeling cheated by the potential for this book. At it's heart this is a love story. The power of love contrasted with the almost supernatural power of the Poets who have the ability to persuade anyone to do anything. It's a good premise.,. slightly used but well chosen. It's the execution I have a problem with. The main character has 2 love affairs. One when she is 16 which feels actually pretty genuine, and reading this I was sure that this was going to be the love story which shapes the book. It wasn't. OK... so she finds a new love, but the interactions between her and her new fling feels more shallow than any relationship I've ever heard of. When I realized that the love story the author was describing was the "true love" that we were supposed to believe can surpass all boundaries I was kinda shocked. I never felt it and that made it ring really hollow. It lacked the gravity that I wanted. I'm not sure how one would fix it. I don't want a 300 page romance novel thrown in the middle of the book so I can get the payoff I wanted, but there's got to be a way to make the feelings the lovers have for each other feel genuine. Now that the book is over. I only remember that she complains he doesn't talk enough and he never says anything at all. It's hard to feel those people have a love that can overcome a speedbump... let alone a mountain.
I was still sustained by the description of the Poets and the society they work in. I would like to have read more about that and less about this love/fling story. If Max Barry writes another novel with the Poets in it I will be the FIRST to get it. I LOVE the concept and the intrigue that you can have with this kind of power and suggestion in it can be incredible to read about... so... I will still recommend this book. But just go in with the understanding that the love story is GOING to fall flat so you have to take it on faith that there is some love story you don't really get to hear about happening.
Full time Internal Medicine practice and serious amateur Landscape photographer. Utilizes driving hours listening to spy and thriller Audiobooks. Loves to travel to places with mountains, green waters and beaches with wife.
Emily, the deviant multi-talented brilliant practical-minded young woman.
Excellent choice of Heather Corrigan. I wanted her to really express her rage like a cat in distress on some of the book chapters. There is something in her tone of voice that captivates her listeners. I started listening to this book while I was tilling my garden at around 8:00 AM here in Connecticut this July 4th weekend and did not stop until I finished the full length of the book the same day while driving to my destination in Southern New Jersey to attend a birthday party.The plot is very contemporary and believable. Our brain has 10+ billion neurons and in our lifetime, I don't think we utilize 1% of it. There is just so much mind power to explore and Max Barry's concept to master our acumen to persuade, command and direct a cluster of population to attack and kill, is not far from reality... and frightening. I bet that there are clandestine agencies out there who continue to develop this Pavlovian deviation and we hope that if it does happen, it will be used for the common good. The interference of the Establishment to continue to dominate our lives is just beginning. Our data are stored every time we browse the internet. All of us are tract down whenever we use our mobile phones. Nothing is secret in this day and age anymore. The only thing left is our mind. Once the government finally unlock this mystery, we are like the subjects in the movie "Terminator"
It was definitely well performed. A couple of times I had to start a chapter over because the author travels to different times and places in the story. Suddenly a character would come in....like Bronte, and you'd think "wait! Isn't she dead???" I had to back track a bit to establish that one of the characters was having a flashback. Overall, the story flowed, but it had a moment or two that were fuzzy like this. The overall story was very good and well researched.
I have not listened to these narrators before. I will definitely seek them out in the future!
I liked the stubborness and ingenuity of the main character, Emily. She started with a very challenging set of circumstances and her survival instincts help her to skirt danger over and over again.
I really don’t’ listen to books twice, once is enough- but that’s not to say this wasn’t very enjoyable.
It’s a new premise, I haven’t encountered a story like this before. Very clever. You really can’t guess where it’s going, but the plot turns are not so bizarre that it seems like the author was just trying to get write themselves out of a corner. It was very enjoyable.
They were both very good, able to distinguish between a multitude of characters. The only thing that grated a bit was the female Austrian accent, it just did not seem right, and it was distracting. The male accent was perfect, not overdone, but very distinguishable.
No, but I did finish it in record time because it was very interesting.
Irina M. Flowers
After I watch a movie I always ask myself: would I watch this movie again? It helps me to determine if I actually liked the movie and how much I liked it. I do the same with the books. I've watched the Matrix more than 20 times. I've read each novel of Brothers Strugatsky more than 10 times. So, after I finished this audio book I asked myself if I ever listen to it again. The answer was "yes, I can definitely see myself listening to this novel again." The story is interesting, although unclear in some places, but I tried to silence my logic, since the story is about magic and magic has unstable characteristics. The main characters and their relationships are well developed, the performance is excellent. I would definitely recommend this book for a rainy weekend or a day on a beach.
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.
Plot full of surprises, good narration, interesting juxtapositions.
Exploring the secrets that underlie her situation with the protagonist.
Not that I know of.
I don't remember being emotionally moved with the exception of laughing out loud. But, I do remember being intellectually stimulated. I listened to the entire over 12 hours of narration in less than 48 hours and I wished it was longer :-)
Pleasantly surprised by the quality of ideas and depth of characters.
Sadly, for a book about wordsmithing, the author could not choose a word other than "F*ck" 50 times in the first 3 chapters. like listening to a 15 yr old curse because they think it is cool.
So much for this being his "most mature" writing.
if they had better material to read.
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