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Lexicon (2013)

by Max Barry

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,9311337,233 (3.87)111
Emily Ruff belongs to a secretive, influential organization whose "poets" can break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. Then she makes a catastrophic mistake and falls in love with Wil Jamieson who holds the key to a secret war between rival factions of "poets." In order to survive, Wil must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, as the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless.… (more)
  1. 30
    Mr Penumbra's 24-hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both books are non-traditional geeky mystery/thrillers.
  2. 30
    Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (kaipakartik)
    kaipakartik: Similar concepts about Language and all powerful words
  3. 20
    Embassytown by China Miéville (Longshanks)
    Longshanks: A gorgeously-written modern sci-fi tale that examines the power and foibles of our own language.
  4. 10
    The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (dmenon90)
    dmenon90: Resourceful heroine, mad circumstances, (sort of) unknown adversary, supernatural element, large mysterious multinational organization, heroine becomes outlier, fighting within organization
  5. 10
    The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (TFleet)
    TFleet: Both novels feature a female protagonist, whose ability with language is crucial, in a life-and-death struggle with antagonists of greater power.
  6. 00
    The Incrementalists by Steven Brust (reconditereader)
    reconditereader: Both are twisty books about secret organizations, and both are page-turners full of action.
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» See also 111 mentions

English (131)  German (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
As it starts off, it's kind of Harry Potter like as the main character is recruited, but then it becomes very thriller-like. Many twists and turns. Very enjoyable read. The language science in it is light (and sometimes a little off): more psychology. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Sep 16, 2022 |
Re-reading due to enjoying Barry's latest Audible short story.

It was nice. The ending timelines got a little muddled. And the plot is a teeny bit YA. But I like that I can see the author's growth from Lexicon to his recent short story. I have to hear more Barry soon. ( )
  josh513 | Aug 13, 2022 |
This was a surprise. I didn't even read the description of this book. I just picked it because it was about words. I was blown away by the theme of the story and how it was put together. Big gold star ⭐️. ( )
  christyco125 | Jul 4, 2022 |
This was such a weird book to me. The reviews on the back praised it as a weekend read. It wasn't, at least for me. I am sure someone will make it into a movie and either you will love or hate it like Inception. ( )
  Sunandsand | Apr 30, 2022 |
This book makes you wonder -- and fear -- what rough beast might be slouching toward Bethlehem to be born.

And regarding the ending: when I am told that two competing desires will always try to express themselves, and when one of those desires is love, it satisfies me very deeply that love, on a primal level, wins. ( )
  TheGalaxyGirl | Feb 23, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
Poets—yes, you read that right, poets—are specially-trained operatives who can change the minds of anyone, provided they use the right words in the right way. This two-tiered narrative gives us Emily, who has been recruited to join the mind-control group, and Wil, who is being tortured when the book opens and as his amnesia recedes, we see more and more of his link to the poets. ... As always, Barry is a social critic first and foremost. The power of his work comes from the absurdist take he has on already-absurd elements of our consumer-driven, advertising-fueled culture. Mark this one up as another winner in the Barry canon.
added by KelMunger | editLit/Rant, Kel Munger (Oct 10, 2013)
 
So there are several different genres and tones jostling for prominence within “Lexicon”: a conspiracy thriller, an almost abstract debate about what language can do, and an ironic questioning of some of the things it’s currently used for. The sheer noise of the thriller plot and its inevitable violence end up drowning out some of the other arguments Barry is making.
 
Modern-day sorcerers fight a war of words in this intensely analytical yet bombastic thriller.
added by melmore | editKirkus Reivews (Jun 18, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Max Barryprimary authorall editionscalculated
Achilles, GretchenDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mader, FriedrichTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Staehle, WillCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Every story writen is
marks upon a page
The same marks,
repeated, only
differently arranged
Dedication
For Jen, again
First words
"He's coming around."
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Disambiguation notice
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Emily Ruff belongs to a secretive, influential organization whose "poets" can break down individuals by psychographic markers in order to take control of their thoughts. Then she makes a catastrophic mistake and falls in love with Wil Jamieson who holds the key to a secret war between rival factions of "poets." In order to survive, Wil must journey to the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, as the world crashes toward a Tower of Babel event which would leave all language meaningless.

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Book description
At an exclusive school somewhere outside of Arlington, Virginia, students aren't taught history, geography, or mathematics — at least not in the usual sense. They are taught to persuade, to use language to manipulate minds, to wield words as weapons. The very best graduate as "poets" and enter a nameless organization of unknown purpose.

Whip-smart runaway Emily Ruff is making a living from three-card monte on the streets of San Francisco when she attracts the attention of the organization's recruiters. Drawn into their strange world, which is populated by people with names like Brontë and Eliot, she learns their key rule: that every person can be classified by an extremely specific personality type, his mind segmented and ultimately controlled by the skillful application of words. For this reason she must never allow another person to truly know her, lest she herself be coerced. Adapting quickly, 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 Parke is brutally ambushed by two men in an airport bathroom. They claim he is the key to a secret war he knows nothing about, that he is an "outlier," immune to segmentation. Attempting to stay one step ahead of the organization and the mind-bending poets, Wil and his captors seek salvation in the toxically decimated town of Broken Hill, Australia, which, if stories are true, sits above an ancient glyph of frightening power.

A brilliant thriller that connects very modern questions of privacy, identity, and the rising obsession of data collection to centuries old ideas about the power of language and coercion, Lexicon is Max Barry's most ambitious and spellbinding novel yet.

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