Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Lexicon

Lexicon
By Max Barry
Penguin June 2013
387 pages
From the library

Lexicon

Emily Ruff is a smart girl. That's important because her wits are the only thing she has as she navigates the tough streets of San Francisco. Emily is performing slight of hand tricks when she is approached by a man. He say that he works for an organization that looks for people with powers of persuasion - people like Emily. With nothing to lose, she accepts his offer to fly to D.C. and go through a battery of tests. If she passes, she will enter a strange world where people are known by the names of great poets and use the power of words to manipulate. 

In places, this book reminded me a lot of Lev Grossman's The Magicians. Both books feature characters who are taken to a school for training in an art they don't fully understand yet. In both stories, the students must harness their powers and attempt to figure out how they work and who they can trust. As often happens to those with a great deal of power, some of the poets are up to no good. The lines are blurry though, especially with the goals of so many characters left unknown to Emily and to the readers. 

The pacing on this story is perfect. Barry utilizes a dual storyline. As we see Emily learning about the power of words and the organization behind it all, we also go on the run with a man named Wil Parke. Parke is kidnapped by the poets, who claim that he is the only person resistant to the power of words. He quickly finds out that the poets are engaged in a war among themselves and he is dragged along for a very dangerous ride. Emily's days of testing and education create a wonderful contrast to the edge of your seat adventure that Wil has unwillingly embarked on. The anticipation of discovering the connection between these two characters will keep you turning pages.

As readers, we are people who love words. Barry plays with that here, creating a book that is both compelling story and a treatise on the way we use words. Although using a string of gibberish to force people to do something is fictional, it doesn't actually seem so far-fetched. With new insights into the brain every day and increased knowledge of psychology and personalities, could words someday be used as weapons? We certainly know that words can be persuasive. That power of persuasion can be used to help and it can be used to harm. In the world of Lexicon, that power can have devastating consequences. 

This book is incredibly imaginative and unlike anything else you will read this summer. Lexicon will grab you from the first pages and not let you go until you reach the end. 

8 comments:

  1. I hadn't heard of this before but I think I would love this book. I really must get around to The Magicians, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really great read. I love thrillers that feel like they stretch your brain a bit.

      Delete
  2. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one, but it was so much fun!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a lot of fun! It's one of those books where you tell yourself "just one more chapter..." and then you look up an hour later! :)

      Delete
  3. I've not heard of this one before, but it sounds great! :) Definitely one for me to check out, I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

      Delete
  4. This sounds so interesting! I'm glad I doubled checked my feed for blog updates because I think bloglovin skipped Friday for me. (or I deleted the message accidentally, but I'm totally blaming bloglovin)

    ReplyDelete