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Lexicon | Max Barry | Book Review

February 6, 2014

lexicon max barry book review

By  for Hachette

PLOT: 3.5/5

CHARACTERS: 3/5

WRITING STYLE: 3.5/5

CLIMAX: 2.5/5

ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 3.5/5

Reading a lot of books can be good and bad. On the one hand, one can learn a lot from books, fiction or otherwise. But on the other hand, you would be able to see patterns in books that you would have already read before. There will certainly come a time when you read a book and end up thinking, “I have already read a version of this before”. Therefore, when you come across a book that offers a premise that you haven’t come across before, you tend to enjoy reading it more than other books.

Max Barry’s “Lexicon” is one such book. It is about an organisation called the “Poets” that use words in a language to control humans. They train young students to be able to use a combination of words to make people do their bidding. The plot runs on two parallel stories of Emily and Wil, with both meeting at the end in a place called Broken Hill, a mining town where a disaster had taken place. Emily is a card trickster trying to make money on the street. Looking at her ability to influence people playing the game, the organisation takes her away to give her a proper education in the art of using words. Wil, on the other hand, is introduced with a needle about to be pierced into his eyeball. He has a connection to the organisation but is unable to recall. But as the story unfolds, things become clear as both Emily and Wil converge at Broken Hill.

The story is gripping from page one, starting with Wil’s abduction in the airport. The way the story is told, running parallel, also lets you keep track of the thread and does not confuse the reader at all. The stories are kept separate until it is absolutely needed to merge. Also, the premise itself is very fascinating, and some of the explanations given are very interesting to read.

However, apart from the idea behind the novel, the execution itself is something to be desired. If you can take out the part where words can play an influential role, the action itself is not so great once the story goes forward. Of course, with action thrillers, one cannot expect much in terms of innovation, and it looked like the author did not try too hard either. Also, the ending was kind of a let-down, being too simplistic, especially when it started with such a grand idea.

On the whole, it is an interesting read, but it could definitely have been better. It suffers the common problem of being unable to provide a proper ending to a grand beginning and while I would certainly browse through other books that the author has already written, it would perhaps only be to see what other interesting ideas he may have rather than actually wanting to read his books.

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