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The Word Exchange

by Alena Graedon

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6137330,200 (3.28)41
"A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word"--
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» See also 41 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
I actually was really excited for this book when I first read the description. Futuristic dystopian novels are a love of mine and the concept was one that spoke to me. But I found myself a bit disappointed in how this was executed.

The narration is a bit spotty. The stream-of-consciousness style just doesn't really allow the reader to really connect to the characters and I really had a hard time feeling immersed in this world. Of course, there's also the fact that no only is the crux of the story completely unbelievable, but there's actually no attempt to even explain how it might be physically or scientifically possible. One of the hallmarks of good speculative/science fiction, to me, is being able to present phenomena that may not be possible using current science or technology without leaving the reader going "How is that even possible? That makes no sense."

It's unfortunate. I really wanted to like this one, but I just couldn't.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.) ( )
  crtsjffrsn | Aug 27, 2021 |
I liked the book but had hoped it'd be a little more highbrow than it turned out to be. It sits for me in the same tier of literary accomplishment that a lot of Stephenson and Powers sit, in that it takes an interesting idea and deals with it in a way that's more sophisticated in a literary sense than the way in which a Dan Brown or a Michael Chrichton deals with it but that falls short stylistically of other authors I admire and is accordingly sort of disappointing. ( )
  dllh | Jan 6, 2021 |
A very good, quirky story. A bit crazy at times, but that was the fun. And I still don't think I got all the "Alice" references - the rabbit hole, the looking glass, that type of thing.

This is a world that diverged from our own not that long ago. It diverged when this world created smartphones that can read your mind. They are called Memes. They will order you a cab if you're too drunk to drive. They will order you a drink when you're really explaining you want coffee (but really want a drink), they will help you decide if you really should send that break-up text when you've had too much to drink (by sending it).

I want a Meme!

I don't even own a smartphone. I'm lucky I have a cell phone. So, the Luddite in me really likes this book. There is a plot here - a nasty virus is unleashed in humanity and it's transferred, in part, by Memes. Scary. Scary because I can really see some of this actually happening and in not too distant a future!

Oh, yes, back to the plot. Anana (aka Alice) works at a Dictionary. So does her dad, Doug. So does her friend, Bart. And when the virus starts to decay everyone's language and speaking ability, all hell breaks loose. We must save the English language! We must save all language! It's not a commodity to be bought and sold, but where there's a buck to be made. . . .

*****
As an after note, I read some of the other reviews and personally, I liked the footnotes. Bring on the footnotes! (I didn't read this on my Kindle. How creepy to read this on an electronic device!) And, yes, the word flu premise was totally way out there, but I thought it was fun (well, that may not be the right word). I think I was most confused by the Alice references, believe it or not. Still, I thought it well worth the read. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Imagine: In front of you, a plate of the most delicious dessert you could imagine - your favorite dessert in fact. You’ve had desserts like it before and now that you find yourself with another just like it, you can’t wait to stuff it in your mouth. But as you do, you barely have time to savor its taste before it gets lodged in your throat. It does down, but not without a significant amount of gagging and pain on your part. This is how it was reading “The Word Exchange” for me.
I don’t think this is a bad book. In fact, I was excited to read a book with a mixture of some of my favorite genres: dystopian, romance, and the subject surrounding the terrifying loss of the printed and spoken word - it was so promising.
Unfortunately, while it had so much potential, “The Word Exchange” got caught in the muck of its own writing over and over again. With words you’ll need a thesaurus to decipher and a story which takes a backseat occasionally to the ramblings of its not-so-lovable characters, “The Word Exchange” fails to make itself accessible. By the end, I was practically skimming, just wanting to get to the nitty-gritty of the narrative.
And it’s too bad - I wanted to like this dessert so much. ( )
  gracenovaktv | Aug 15, 2020 |
Not the easiest book to get into - the third time I started it, I finally got it read. An eerie book to read during the pandemic in 2020. This near-future novel is about the importance of words and language. It's really not hard to imagine a world where definitions are monetized and a devastating 'word flu' spreads over the globe. ( )
  KatyBee | Jul 21, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 72 (next | show all)
Readers will recognize just from this outline traces of many other books, from Emberton to Stephen King’s Cell and Tony Burgess’s language-virus classic Pontypool Changes Everything. These echoes only highlight how deep a cultural anxiety Graedon is addressing. Anana is not alone in seeing something end-of-the-worldish in the war on the word
added by ozzer | editToronto Star, Alex Good (Apr 11, 2014)
 
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Epigraph
"I am not yet so lost in lexicography as to forget that words are the daughters of the earth, and that things are the sons of heaven."
—Samuel Johnson, preface to A Dictionary of the English Language
"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, "it means just what I chose it to mean—neither more nor less."
"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master—that's all."
—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass
"As a boy, I used to marvel that the letters in a closed book did not get scrambled and lost overnight."
—Jorge Luis Borges, "The Aleph"
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On a very cold and lonely Friday last November, my father disappeared from the Dictionary.
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"A fiendishly clever dystopian novel for the digital age, The Word Exchange is a fresh, stylized, and decidedly original debut about the dangers of technology and the power of the printed word"--

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