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
Good book overall. Makes you think. The guy reader does a better job than the girl. His Australian accent was definitely better. Hers sounded more Irish than anything.
This is one of those books that requires full focus. It's confusing even if you are following. And I'm not certain I agree with the ending. But it was still really good.
Author Max Barry weaves a well conceived story with great irony and likeable characters.
If you are a hardcore science fiction fan insisting that everything works according to the science books or at least some yet to be proven theory, you are not going to like this one. If you are looking for some good old fashioned fun and action based on a stretch of the imagination, you will like this. The twists and turns kept me interested. There is enough action to make it exciting.
I recommend it.
This book feels like it would be great as a 1 3/4 hour sci-fi futuristic movie. The underlying plot is interesting, but the author jumps back in forth in both time and geography. Therefore, the reader spends unnecessary time just trying to figure out details that could better be shown on the big screen. On the plus side, the female lead character shares some of the same basic personality traits with the heroine from the Girl with Dragon Tatoo, so this made the read more interesting..
I know I'm reading great fiction when I can't figure out what is true and what is made up. This book is very smart. It connects on a very human level, but is rife with literary and scientific references. I have no doubt that Max Barry is a truly interesting person. You would have to be to write a story this rich with reference.
The dual performance was outstanding. At first I thought it would distract, but it quickly becomes expected and comfortable.
I have no doubt that some will be confused by the chronography of the plot. It jumps from past to present quite frequently. But I never got lost.
Finally, like the truly great stories, you think you have it all figured out. And in the end, maybe you actually did. But there were enough hairpin curves to make you feel not so smart after all.
It has been a long time since I enjoyed new fiction this much. Definitely recommended.
The story wasn't bad at all. I enjoyed it and wouldn't change much. Good pace and overall decent sci-fi. And I hate to give it three stars for performance, but oh my goodness... The female narrator's Aussie accent is maybe the worst experience I've ever had on an Audible listen. It was like she was trying to do an Irish accent but she kept losing track of it and would switch to Valley Girl. I honestly don't think she has ever heard an Aussie speak. Incidentally, she was great the rest of the time. The accent just really took me out of the story. ...to the extent that I would miss what was being said because I couldn't hear it...over my own shouting at the narrator. Just kidding. Sort of.
The male narrator was pretty incredible, so I hope my average rating on narration isn't too misleading.
I didn't buy some of the female protagonist's story, but it was still entertaining. Just thought it was going in a different direction at times and was disappointed with some outcomes of her conflict. I thought she could have been more interesting. And the dark elements of her character were sort of abandoned for a slightly cliche love story.
Again, I did enjoy it. Just can't give it five stars anywhere.
The over use of the "F" word made for a distraction from the story. I am not a prude by any means but the excessive use of the word and the shocking context seemed to be a tactic to distract the mind from the missing content of the story.
Character associations were alluded to but never fully developed leaving questions whose answers may have helped fill in some gaps in the story glossed over by the shocking factor of the "F" word.
The concept however, was very clever, and worth at least 3 stars, but I most likely will not purchase another book written by this author.
wow. good characters.good twisty plot. I usually save such books for trips but I had to finish this one out with stolen time.
This book was captivating. I love stories that take myths or histories and turn them on their head or add a layer of depth that plunges you into new possibilities.
It has something for just about everyone, especially lovers of language and linguistics. It's hard to believe a book about words could be so thrilling, but it absolutely is. You always have at least two storylines, so if one character isn't doing it for you, you don't have long to wait. Barry knows what's up!
This is a well-written, interesting, and compelling work of speculative fiction. It approaches the venerable trope of mind control from a grounding in linguistics, semiotics, and psychology that is solid enough not only to support the story line, but also to serve as a reminder that we are constantly barraged by misinformation, disinformation, persiflage, and outright lies that are uttered in an attempt to change our thinking and behavior.
Don't let the preceding comment make you think that the book is didactic or tedious in any way. I was awake all night listening to it and recommend it without hesitation.
Report Inappropriate Content