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..
Both narrators breathed life into characters so real that you could step into them like your favorite shoes. In his trademark dry style, Max Barry confronts complex political, social, and emotional concepts with wit, humor, and poignant ethos. Fall in love with your new favorite book: this was more worth the read than anything else I've picked up.
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