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
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..
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.
Potential spoliers throughout.
Concept was interesting, but the timeline jumped back and forth too much. It always took me too long to figure out if we in the past or the present and to parse out who knew what in this moment.
Feels a bit like Hunger Games, with Emily/Katniss, a reluctant pawn in Yates'/Snow's vision for the future.
Finally, I felt like there was a lot of hints about how men control women (Lee's abuse of Emily, Henry's refusal to say he loves Emily, Yates in general) vs. women only having sexual control of men that was not-so-subtly looked down on. This wasn't really explored, just presented, so it felt incomplete.
I was kinda annoyed by the accents for the various characters. A few worked for me, but the Australian accents felt really off. I could be totally wrong, it just wasn't believable.
I feel like this has been my mantra of late, but this feels like alot of the sci-fi I've been reading lately. really interesting thought provoking basic idea with a very boring story shoved in at the end. Any story with such a loving homage to TS Elliott is worth it, there is alot of literary humor that is right on the line of awesome and eye rolling corny, but I'm siding with this book being well worth it when it's all said and done.
I've listened to this book more than 7 times.
The characters are full on people that you feel you could bump into on the streets.
Do yourself a favor and jump in.
I loved this book. It was recommended by a friend who usually has good taste and boy did it live up to expectations!! Normally, it seems storylines are tweaked and re-done multiple times... But this was actually very unique and well thought through. 5 stars from me!
It's slow going with the book constantly explaining the rule of lexicon... Or something. Ok
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