Lexicon: A Novel Paperback – Apr 1 2014
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A New York Times Summer Beach Read
An Amazon Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Pick June 2013
A Best of June iBookstore Pick
A Time Magazine "What to Read Now" Pick
A Huffington Post Best Book of Summer 2013
A Salon "Summer's Best Reads"
A Hollywood Reporter "Buzzy Books for Hollywood's Reading List"
A Pittsburgh Post Gazette Beach Read
A Kirkus Ten Best Novels for Summer Reading 2013
“A dark, dystopic grabber in which words are treated as weapons, and the villainous types have literary figures’ names. Plath, Yeats, Eliot and Woolf all figure in this ambitious, linguistics-minded work of futurism.”
—Janet Maslin, New York Times
"Imagine, if you will, a secret group of people called Poets who have the power to control others simply by speaking to them. Barry has, and the result is an extraordinarily fast, funny, cerebral thriller."
"Imagine blending the works of Neal Stephenson with Michael Chabon and the end result would come close to the world envisioned by Barry. The words brilliant and exemplary aren’t adequate enough to convey the amazing craft of Lexicon."
"A clever blend of sci-fi and thriller, with touches of romance and humor… persuaded me anew that words are, indeed, the bomb."
—Dallas Morning News
"It's a pitch-perfect thriller, a jetpack of a plot that rocketed me from page one to page 400 in a single afternoon, and it kept me guessing right up to the end. Imagine Dan Brown written by someone a lot smarter and better at characterization and at hand-waving the places where the science shades into science fiction, and you've got something like Lexicon."
—Cory Doctorow, Boingboing.net
"[A] speedy, clever, dialogue-rich thriller."
"A crazily inventive conspiracy thriller."
“Brazen and brilliant”
—The Wichita Eagle
“Mind-bending... an action novel that nicely exercises the brain as well as the heart rate.”
"A large helping of both action and thought… anyone who knows 1984 will remember the fanger of allowing people to love each other—but Barry handles it with skill."
"An absolutely first-rate, suspenseful thriller with convincing characters who invite readers’ empathy and keep them turning pages until the satisfying conclusion."
"A scary and satisfying blend of thriller, dystopia, and horror."
"An up-all-night thriller for freaks and geeks who want to see their wizards all grown up in the real world and armed to the teeth in a bloody story."
"[An] ambitious satirical thriller… amuses as much as it shocks."
“The sort of thriller that pricks real-world anxieties about privacy and coercion while rushing on with an outlandish clockwork plot. Lexicon’s clockwork is excellent, too: The book succeeds largely through Barry’s skill in managing his reader and his plot, suspending disbelief by intercutting a pair of storylines until they inevitably intersect. He always chooses immersion over exposition, letting his reader feel his way through the Chomskian mix of surveillance-society paranoia and linguistic geekiness.”
—Philadelphia City Paper
"I bid you, read this book… Not that much of anything is certain in this blistering literary thriller. Lexicon twists and turns like a lost language, creating tension and expectations, systematically suggesting and then severing connections."
"About as close you can get to the perfect cerebral thriller: searingly smart, ridiculously funny, and fast as hell. Lexicon reads like Elmore Leonard high out of his mind on Snow Crash."
—Lev Grossman, New York Times bestselling author of The Magicians and The Magician King
"Lexicon grabbed me with the opening lines, and never let go. An absolutely thrilling story, featuring an array of compelling characters in an eerily credible parallel society, punctuated by bouts of laugh-out-loud humor."
—Chris Pavone, New York Times bestselling author of The Expats
"Dazzling and spectacularly inventive. A novel that jams itself sideways into your brain and stays there."
—Mike Carey, author of The Devil You Know
"I don’t know how you could craft a better weekend read than this novel of international intrigue and weaponized Chomskian linguistics. It’s the perfect mix of philosophical play and shotgun-inflected chase scenes. Like someone let Grant Morrison loose on the Bourne identity franchise."
—Austin Grossman, author of Soon I Will be Invincible
“Insanely good. Dark and twisted and sweet and humane all at once.”
—Lauren Beukes, author of Zoo City and The Shining Girls
"Best thing I've read in a long, long time."
—Hugh Howey, New York Times bestselling author of Wool
About the Author
Max Barry is the author of four previous novels, Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, and Machine Man. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
The basic premise is that everyone, or nearly everyone, is susceptible to certain power words, which will take away free will and compel one to follow commands. There is an organisation, known as The Poets, who appreciate this and use it to train suitable practitioners and to exploit its potential. The truly powerful words or Barewords, have the potential to create mayhem, destroy civilisations or even to bring down the legendary Tower of Babel. Whilst this a struggle of good against evil, it is fairly clear which side is evil, but it is not at all clear which is good. The boundaries are rather blurred.
This is a really interesting book and one in which the outcome is not signposted in advance and keeps you guessing until the end. Initially less than compelling it is a story which will reward if you stick with it. This tale is not obviously the basis for a series of books but the concept is so compelling that it must have further potential. Highly recommended!
However, if you push on you'll find that after the first chapter, things really pick up. I try to describe this book of language, persuasion, secret societies of "poets" and a tragedy in the Australian outback, but it's difficult.
Read this book, get past the first chapter, and get sucked in. I was very pleasantly surprised and love the style of writing and how much you come to sympathize with the main characters.
Throughout this engrossing and thrilling novel, I saw aspects of my wife's profession...psychotherapy and my own...branding and marketing, "What we're doing, or, I should say, what you're doing, since no one has taught me any good words, is dropping recipes into people's brains to cause a neurochemical reaction to knock out the filters. Tie them up just long enough to slip an instruction past. And you do that by speaking a string of words crafted for the person's psychographic segment. Probably words that were crafted decades ago and have been strengthened ever since. And it's a string of words because the brain has layers of defenses, and for the instruction to get through, they all have to be disabled at once."
This is both a thriller and thinker of a book. It moves with speed, engages with credible characters, and entertains by presenting a shadowy world that exists just below society's surface. The conspiracy element is accentuated by the breaks in between chapters that draw on social media conventions and questionable traditional media reporting. In the end, Barry gets us thinking about power and control, "All empires fall, eventually. But why? It’s not for lack of power.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Very riveting plot, characters were hashed out nicely. I bought this book after reading a friend's copy, will be reading again.Published 2 months ago by Robin
One of the few instances where, upon finishing the book, I wanted more. Barry has created a world that had me thinking about words and language in a way I hadn't before.Published on Feb. 17 2014 by John Callaghan
Can't remember where I first heard of this book, but I was pulled in and really enjoyed it! Makes me nervous to answer questions from strangers!Published on Oct. 16 2013 by Daryl Manderville