Lexicon

  • by Max Barry
  • Narrated by Heather Corrigan, Zach Appelman
  • 12 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fasten your seat belt...

You are in for a wild ride with this near future science fiction thriller. One thing that defines this novel is movement and the pace in Lexicon is always brisk. The novel shifts quickly between time periods, locations, and points of view with many twists in the road. That almost breathless pace is a double-edged sword. It makes for a story that is exciting and there is never a dull moment. But the pace doesn't allow for the science fiction side of the tale to develop as much as I would have liked to see. The premise of using words as psychological triggers to control others has been used before, but Max Barry does have some nice new twists on the idea like the hypothesis that there might be a "machine language" for human beings - a base language that every brain uses to communicate internally and would therefore respond to if you could find those "bare words". But Barry doesn't ever quite slow the pace enough to really develop the concepts; just as one of these ideas starts to flower, we cut to an action sequence. So the sci-fi aspect of the story is relegated to mostly a plot device.

Most of the shifts between point of view were nicely done, but the plot does not unfold totally linearly and I found the shifts in time a bit confusing. In addition, there are some gaps in the plot (like a guy who can't be compromised until he is and you don't really know why) - some things don't quite jibe, but I have to admit those things didn't really hit me until after I finished the book and thought about it because while listening I was so caught up in the story.

Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman were both good narrators on the whole. My only criticism of the performances being that neither of them did a good Australian accent. I also want to note for anyone else this may happen to - when I bought this audio book, it showed up in My Library with Part 1 and Part 2 in reverse order of the way every other book has shown up. Part 2 was first under the title and then Part 1. So, I accidentally downloaded Part 2 first and had a little bit of the middle of the book's "secrets" spoiled for me before I figured out what happened.

This is a "page turner" kind of book (a great one if you are looking for something to keep you alert on a long drive) with some good characters, action oriented plot with some cool twists, interesting settings, and competent narrators. Not classic science fiction, but a very entertaining listen.
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- Tango "Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres."

Super, creepy fun

I stopped listening only long enough to run to the Ace hardware store where they wouldn't let me have a discount unless I gave them my phone number. Gave my work phone number and voilĂ , all my personal details showed up on the screen. This story hits so close to home that I want to pull down the shades, throw my cell phone away, get off of the Facebooks, store up enough water and vittles, grab a shovel and get off the grid. Today.

Highly recommend this intriguing, modern story about how They control us. Also curious what "type" I am (both a cat *and* a dog person).....
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- mindusq "Typical cat lady: lazy, sings off-key, craves spicy bloody marys."

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-18-2013
  • Publisher: Penguin Audio