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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.
©2013 Max Barry (P)2013 Penguin Audio
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
4 out of 5 stars
By Tango on 06-22-13

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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53 of 58 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By PlantCrone on 06-22-13

Mind Blowing Plot-Excellent Narration

Having never really paid a lot of attention to the insidious ways information is collected on me-(I even volunteer to participate in studies for which I am rewarded with $25.00 gift cards for Target)-I at first thought this novel was a conspiracy theorists kind of thing. Plus this is my first Max Barry Novel, I wasn't prepared for all the ideas that the story brought to my attention. Even our reviews here can become part of data gathering, all our online purchases are recorded, our purchases via credit card, store "Loyal Customer" input is collected volunteered by us to get minor discounts on purchases.

Other reviewers have already detailed the story arc so I won't repeat it here...I just suggest that even readers who aren't interested in the conspiracy theorists ideas listen to this book...and I suspect it translates better in the audio form than in the paper.

I found the audiobook enlightening, sort of scary, relevant and entertaining. Heather Corrigan and Zach Appelman are excellent narrators and the story is one that responds well to having 2 different narrators....Basically Corrigan is Emily and Appelman is most of the male voices. He brings off Harrys Aussie accent ok and it's pretty easy to figure out who is talking in 1st person from the sound of Appelmans voice. Corrigan is a popular narrator for a reason---she brings so much to the person she's being in any audiobook I've heard her narrate.

As a primary protagonist, Emily isn't always someone you'd identify with-even as a homeless 16 year old hustler. She grew on me.

The story has an unexpected ending - I wasn't at all prepared for it. It's tempting to go into more detail, but I just can't do it without spoiling so I'll just leave my review here.

Worth a credit? You bet. One of the best I've heard on Audible by far.

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27 of 31 people found this review helpful

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