Lexicon was one of those books that grew out of seemingly nowhere; I'd heard nothing about it, then I saw it everywhere. It was on blogs I read, mentioned on the radio, featured in a podcast. And when I browsed the shelves of Politics and Prose with Rachel from Home Between Pages (Note to self: Browsing a bookstore with a fellow book blogger is bad for the budget.) and found a signed copy, it was destiny: we were meant to be together.
I ended up reading the entire novel in a day. I've since recommended it to several other people, two of whom have come back and told me that they read the entire novel in a day.
That could probably suffice as enough of a a review, but in order to truly do the book justice:
Lexicon is a story about the power of words. In a construction that is at first reminiscent of the recruiting scenes of X-Men, eerily talented professional something-or-others travel around the world looking for people with a certain skill. Though the details are fuzzy at first, it becomes clear that it has to do with persuasion: the ability to persuade, and the ability not to be persuaded.
When these recruiters find Emily Ruff, she is taken to an elite school in northern Virginia, where she learns that every person can be categorized, and each category influenced by a different set of words. In order to remain unpersuadeable, she can never let anyone truly know her--which is all fine and dandy until she falls in love.
Armed with the knowledge of the school, a fierce desire to be left to her own devices and a broken heart, Emily is a force to be reckoned with--and reckon they will. Except, all of a sudden, it's unclear who, exactly, "they" are. Who is on what side? And what are they fighting for--and against?
Max Barry, author of two previous novels, has created a world in Lexicon that is stunning and spellbinding, weaving a fast-paced novel that is as smart as it is action-packed. Written before Snowden's name was known across the globe, Barry's novel also raises key questions about data, privacy and identity--who is tracking what, and what trails do we leave in our virtual--and non-virtual--lives? It is a story that is at once hard to read but also impossible to put down, rushing at a breakneck pace to a thoughtful, and thought-provoking, conclusion.
Don't miss this one. Just make sure you have a whole weekend free before you start it, to be safe.
Lexicon | Max Barry | Penguin | Hardcover | May 2013 | 400 pages