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
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.
It's a good story. Predictable after the first bit, but still fun to listen to.
I have not. However, the female narrator - Heather Corrigan? - has apparently never heard/listened to/talked with an Australian of any sort. Ever. Her 'Australian' goes from high society British to slightly brogue-y Irish. It was EXTREMELY distracting from the story. Top marks to the male narrator for doing good voices.
I will and I have. The ideas in this books are fascinating...pushed just passed reality...or are they?
Like I said the ideas that are fundamental to the story fascinated me. The idea that persuasion is far more than charm, that its scientific. Amazing. You keep guessing the whole book; who is the bad guy? Is there a bad guy? Is everyone the bad guy?
The initial testing scene
Most definitely wanted to. I hated to put it down
This book was mind bending. A great read I would gladly have spent a credit on it had it not been on sale when I discovered it
Fast paced and cerebral. Excellent example of speculative fiction. It reminds me of reading Foucault's Pendulum by Eco.
No. I got burned on this book. I am not going to trust Max Barry with more of my money.
So how do you rate a book that starts out really strong and end average? Do you just rate the net quality average out over the book or do you rate it on the sense of disappointment you have when you reach the end? This book is deceptive. The preview with the interesting imagery and high tension is not the book that you end up with. It starts out as a great thriller then takes a left turn and morphs into a run of the mill "Wizard School" knockoff and ends as bland uninteresting romance. Many things that are brought up in the beginning are never mentioned again and certain plot point are introduced without justification in the story. The villain, once they are finally introduced at the very end of the book, is phenomenally dumb and only get anywhere because the universe warps to fit his stupidity. Not to mention the number of unused Chekhov's Guns in this book probably qualifies it to be an NRA chapter.That being said the actual writing is pretty good. The author has a way with words. And the story is not boring till the very end. It can be an entertaining popcorn listen. Honestly this feels like a first draft of a book by a skilled writer. There are some good ideas in the pages but it has not been edited to put everything together into a compelling story.
Didn't know what to expect, and it took me a little while to figure it out but I really got into it. The time jumping got a little confusing, but it made it more interesting all said, and I do think that it told the story better that way. I really couldn't put it down. Have a 5 min break? Ok, I'll fire up audible! I'll do the dishes today, just gimme my headphones!
Appelman is staggeringly good. His Australian accent is so excellent that I thought he was two narrators in his own right. Corrigan is also good, and I came to appreciate her as the recording went along, but her work (especially at the beginning) suffers for being up against Appelman's excellence.
This is an odd book, which I think of as a reason to read it. On the plus side, it begins with an adrenaline rush that's not easy to pull off. I found myself gripped in the early pages, and I eventually came to admire its experiments in chronology and perspective.
That said, the central conceit, while very interesting, doesn't always lend itself to a satisfying story. [SLIGHT SPOILER ALERT] Because "compromising means, in effect, destroying an individual's character, it effectively means that characters who are compromised can no longer function as characters. The climax addresses that head on, but it does so very late in the game and very much against most of what the novel has established as its world.
If Neuromancer takes you deeper and deeper into the world it creates, and if Harry Potter adds increasing nuance, the world of Lexicon is mostly finished from the time we first fully understand it. It's clever stuff, and there's a lot to enjoy, but the biggest problem it does have -- that the stakes of any conflict are victory or annihilation -- seems hard-wired into the cleverness that gave birth to it in the first place.
Without spoling the book, the premise is that we are all bio-computers who have words as our base code. Words have a magical ability to cause us to be manipulated. Too bad that the words used by the author fell flat and the sinister plot lines really hard to believe.
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